Steampunk: What it is and why you should care

If you’re not in the loop, the next book to come out of the mind of Jack Wallen (after T-Minus Zero) will be Klockwerk Kabaret. This story is a dark steampunk tale about Nathan Gage and Olivia Nightingale, the proprietors of the Klockwerk Kabaret. As the name implies, the establishment (resting in the heart of Mainspring) is a cabaret that features the song stylings of Olivia as well as the mechanical, sensual wonders — the Klockwerk Dolls. But there’s so much more to the story than that!

But before I go too deep into the gist of Klockwerk Kabaret, I wanted to first enlighten you as to what the Steampunk genre really is. According to the all-powerful Wikipedia, Steampunk is:

…a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Therefore, steampunk works are often set in an alternate history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace’s Analytical Engine.

Steampunk may also, though not necessarily, incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre. The term steampunk’s first known appearance was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created even as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.

So, it’s an alt-history cum alt-technology mixtape wrapped up in a bit of high fashion and high invention. The term “Steampunk” was a play on the word “Cyberpunk”, so the element of “punk” doesn’t actually exist. But… like with everything, rules are meant to be broken.

For my take on the Steampunk world, I have created a city called Mainspring where you will find the Klockwerk Kabaret. Within the world of Mainspring, there are, basically, four types of beings:

  • Bios — humans
  • Perps — mechanical beings that have had perpetual motion winders installed within their bodies
  • Winders — mechanical beings that require regular winding
  • Steamers — outcast mechanical beings that have had a steam-driven engine permanently attached that serves to wind their mainspring engines.

The horror in the novel comes when the ruler of The Keep of Keys releases a few, shall I say, nastier Steamers onto Mainspring. By using the trans-dimensional clock, Hieronymus Ebauché (pronounced Aboosh — long “A”), releases a pack of demons upon Mainspring. The town’s only hope — you guessed it, Nathan Gage and Olivia Nightingale. Our protagonists also serve as night-time vigilante crime fighters. So they kick ass and look sexy all the while.

The tapestry should be fairly thick with enough goodness to entice both Steampunk and non-steampunk fans into its loom.

The beauty of genres like Steampunk is that they are so wide open to interpretation. It’s a genre that was born of someone breaking the rules of another genre to create something quite lovely. This book (and genre) has allowed me to meld together a number of my own personal styles into one, tasty treat.

In the writing of this book, I have experienced such a breath of fresh air. It’s been an absolute joy to create a new Steampunk world and I am confident that joy of writing will transfer to a joy of reading. It’s different than my usual fare, but I believe you’ll know it is certainly a Jack Wallen original. I can’t wait to pass this book onto the fans of the Dark Hayride and hope to bring in even more fans to the velvet and brocade fold.

As always, I want to thank everyone for being a part of my world. It wouldn’t be the same without you here.