I’ve just finished reading my first Steampunk novel. It’s called The Affinity Bridge, and it’s written by an English writer called George Mann. It’s the first in a series of books featuring Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes, and it’s a thumping good read.
The setting is Victorian London, at the turn on the 20th century – but it’s not the London historians would be familiar with. It’s the age of Steampunk: a sub-genre of science, speculative and fantasy fiction that combines alternate realities with modern-day technology. Whereas “proper” Victorian London was all gas-light and horse-drawn carriages, Steampunk London adds automatons, airships, a daring sense of fashion and a hint of the Dark Arts to the mix.
The forerunner of Steampunk is believed to be Jules Verne with his 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The term itself was coined, it seems, by writer K.W. Jeter, who was looking for a way to describe his own writing. Steampunk became mainstream with the release of the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, created by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. You may remember the disappointing movie adaptation rather than the novel, but the elements are the same: technology at a time that historically wasn’t ready for it. (The less said about the Will Smith movie, The Wild Wild West, the better.)
It’s a unique genre; well, unique to me, at any rate. So much so that when I was reading Mann’s book, I couldn’t help but envisage Dublin from a similar angle. I began asking myself questions. What would Steampunk Dublin look like? What would its citizens wear? And what kind of adventures would they have? By the look and sound of what Mann and other Steampunk writers have done, absolutely anything could happen.
Imagine the relationship between Ireland and England in a Steampunk setting. I already have an idea about what I might do. I already have a working title for it, too.
It’s going to be called Minus Ten. You read it here first.