Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Achievement unlocked: agent acquired

Scott Pilgrim art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
It feels strange sharing good news when half the country is being knocked around by a hurricane, but I guess that if I waited for a period of calm and peace then I'd probably never get to share this.

Just so I don't bury the lede: I now have an agent who will represent me and my novel, Zomburbia. Ann Collette of the Rees Literary Agency has decided to add me to her roster, for which I am very grateful. I wrote previously about how I met Ann.

Even before signing with her, Ann helped me a ton by giving me notes on my novel. Is this something agents do? Help authors with their manuscripts even if they don't have a formal relationship? I have to admit that handling the rewrite felt a bit like an audition. I guess I got the part...

For now, I have a few more rewrites -- minor stuff -- and I need to write a bio. Ann is beginning to put together a list of publishers/editors to whom she'll submit the manuscript. She thinks she should be submitting it around the middle of November. I hope I'll have good news soon after that. Either way, I plan to use this space as a means of recording the book's progress through the hurdles of publishing. Wish me luck.

You know, I really should write that post about query letters...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is there still room for the punk in steampunk?

The Tesla Rangers pin that I proudly wear 
on my jacket. It's from the steampunk comic, 
Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

Here's something I'm pondering these days as I start to once again work on a steampunk novel.

It seems to me that when the original steampunk writers began to explore the world of alternate Victorian history, they had a definite political bent in mind. And by “original,” I mean James Blaylock's Homunculus, Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates and K. W. Jeter's Morlock Night. Jeter, of course originated the term. And, yes, I'm aware that he may have been riffing on the term “cyberpunk” and probably had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he came up with the name, but that doesn't take away the fact that the original group to define the subgenre used their novels, in part, to address some social issues. Their immediate antecedent, Michael Moorcock, was also interested in exploring an opposing view of imperialism with his Warlord of the Air trilogy and William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, part of steampunk's second wave, carried on this tradition with The Difference Engine. So, I think it's safe to safe that the bedrock of the subgenre has a political substrate running through it.

Which seems not to be the case anymore. And before I go any further, I'm going to admit that my knowledge of the field is not exhaustive, nor am I deriding steampunk works that contain little or no political commentary. I am simply asking if today's audience will still accept stories that do.

Having said that, a lot of steampunk I read today seems more concerned with the neo-Victorian aesthetic more than anything else. And there's a large section of the subgenre that features supernatural elements, which seems strange to me, but I'll admit that it might just not be my cup of tea.

So, here's the question: Are there modern works of steampunk that feature political commentary? That's it. I'm not trying to stir up any controversy, I don't hate on one aspect of the subgenre versus the another. I simply want greater exposure to a subgenre that interests me. That is all.