Suggested Reading: Echoes 2!

eBook coverAfter the success of Echoes: Neo-Victorian Poetry, we have now been gifted with another wonderful collection of poetry by JaniceT!

Once again, the works you will find in this volume are all of a classical style.  There are no confusing prose, or ostentatious turns of phrase.  These are poems that echo the more refined and understandable rhymes and rhythms of Emily Dickinson and Poe, but with JaniceT’s own unique voice.

I find that much of modern poetry is aloof and self-important, as if the work itself were looking down its nose at me with judgmental eyes, assuming that I could never truly understand its so-called greatness.  Others are so rough and simplistic as to make me wonder why it’s called a poem at all, and not simply a very short essay.  Slam poets can reach me once in a while, but usually I’m off-put by their aggressive shouts and clear intent to offend.  Either way, I always end up going back to the more inviting, delightful, and damned understandable works of old, where I can enjoy a moment of truth and beautiful melancholy with Yeats, or dance happily through the clean air with Shelly and his skylarks.

Because of all of this, I’m very happy to announce that JaniceT’s work is something anyone can easily relate to and enjoy.  She took great care and attention to give these pieces rhyme and structures that are familiar and comforting, while bringing up many new and fascinating ideas.  She writes both about the modern condition with poems about organic foods and on-line trolls, as well as venturing farther into Steampunk than before with airships and a delightful look at Verne.  All the while, you will find graceful moments of relateable human experience and true emotion.

If you’re put-off by poetry in general, or feel that you just don’t get it, then do yourself a favor and give this one poet a try.  These poems will welcome you in with open arms, and show you that this art form really is one that you too can deeply enjoy.  You were simply reading the wrong poems, all along.

Get the paperback or eBook on Amazon or Smathwords.

Get a taste for JaniceT’s work on her blog, at http://janice-t.weebly.com

Janice T’s Facebook page.

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

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Suggested Reading: Top 5 Victorian novels every steampunk must read.

Sure, we all talk about the great Victorian novels, but how often do we Steampunks really sit down and read them?  We’re all so busy sewing, writing, reading modern Steampunk, larping and making, who’s got the time to read the classics?  Well, I do.  If you manage to carve out a few hours for a proper novel and a cup of tea, then check over this list to see if you missed any essentials.

1, Around the World in 80 Days,  Jules Verne.

That’s right, I’m on Team Verne.  Sorry Wells, but Verne is just more fun.  When I first realized that Steampunk was a genre, this was the first book I ever read specifically looking for Steampunk inspiration.  I gobbled it up in one breath and was inspired enough to start writing my own Steampunk adventures.  This book has it all: fantastic and unique characters, exotic destinations, Victorian social commentary, and enough humor, adventure, and excitement to delight anyone.  And for those of you who think, “Oh, I’ve seen the movie.  I don’t need to read it,” I will tell you that you’re utterly wrong!  First of all, there’s no balloon in the book.  Second, I have never seen a decent portrayal of Passepartout in any film or show.  And lastly, although one actor has played Phileas with dignity, none have ever truly captured the damn sexy subtlety of his true nature.  If you adore gentlemanly adventure like any good Steampunk, and you haven’t read this book, then you are doing yourself a great disservice.

2. The Time Machine, H.G. Wells

Don’t take my siding with Verne as an insult to Wells.  Even though a great deal of his novels were bridging past the Victorian era, The Time Machine is as much a part of Steampunk lore as goggles and airships.  This book has the Dystopian edge that permeates modern Steampunk, and more metaphorical social commentary than you can shake a stick at.  While I personally prefer more layered characters, I can say nothing at all against Wells’s skill in storytelling.  I would say that the movie (the original, not that weird thing from the 90s) did a better job of portraying the story in the way that it was written, and any movies based on Verne.  Even so, this great work deserves to be read.

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde.

Ah, Wilde…  I’ve had a literary crush on the work of Oscar Wilde since I was in my teens.  It usually takes me twice as long as normal to finish one of his stories, simply because I keep having to gasp, pause, and re-read every gorgeous line I find … which is usually about every-other one.  But wait! you say.  Wilde didn’t write about submarines or airship travel, or time machines!  No, he didn’t.  He wrote of men’s true nature and the murky, shadowed depths of the human soul.  In this glorious novel, Wilde explored the dangers of the ego-centered detachment, which the wealthy and the beautiful London aristocrats danced so blindly about.  Here in 2014, it can be difficult to get a clear perspective of what life was really like back there.  If you want to know the motivations of a Londoner of the time, feel the eerie quiet of an empty life in a grand old house, and taste the terror of one’s own limitless potential in a world of too much freedom, than you will find no better prorate.

4. A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

More than just taking us through wonderfully entertaining stories about murder and mystery, Watson provides another great snapshot of what life was like under the rule of Victoria.  From mentioning popular culture (like novels that were once wildly popular but are now unheard of, and which plays, operas, and even fashions were popular at the time) to noting that the sky over London is rather brown today, Watson weaves a tapestry of the time.  The way that the two characters relate to their world in the original stories, tells more than you will ever find on Wiki, or in any of the TV shows and movies that have been made from it.  Not that there is anything wrong with SherlockBBC.  I was simply staggered by the bulk of raw insight that I found in all of the Holmes stories.

5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

I mean really.  How could this book NOT be on any steampunk list?  Sure, there’s more fish genus than are at all needed.  Sure, Nemo’s past is never truly explored.  Sure, Ned can be a bit annoying.  But honestly, what would our beloved genre be with this massively inventive, thrillingly adventurous, and truly beautiful work?  All I can say is that, as with most of Verne’s works, you must be very careful when selecting a translation to read.  The first time I tried to read this book, I couldn’t get more than a few pages in before I got bored.  But, I found out later that I had been reading a highly abridged version, with truly awful re-writing.  I tried a much more modern translation by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter, and suddenly I couldn’t put the book down!  I tell you right now, if you ever tried to read this book and didn’t like it, it was entirely because of the translation.  Get a better copy and try it again today!

Well, that my top 5 classic Victorian essentials list.  What’s yours?  Do you agree with my line up?  Did I missing something dreadfully important to the genre?  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  And happy reading!

Steampunk, and Disney, and Marvel, Oh My!

I stumbled upon something quite interesting on Twitter, on Wednesday.  The nerdy powerhouse, Geek & Sundry started a Twitter tag chat thing (still learning my terms…) #ComicChat with writer Jim Zub, about a fun looking comic called Figment, that will be released this summer.

Doesn’t that image just inspire curiosity?  The story of this 5-part comic will center around two characters from a Disney Epcot ride, Journey Into Imagination, called Figment and Dreamfinder.  I’ve never been to the park myself, but these two look wonderfully interesting.

According to the Disney Wikia: “Dreamfinder was a character created by Walt Disney Imagineering. He created Figment, a tiny royal purple dragon made of two tiny wings, big yellow eyes, horns of a steer, the body of a lizard and a nose of a crocodile, plus a dash of childish delight. He teaches Figment about the wonders of imagination and takes riders along through all of Figment’s overdone splendors in his machine’s Idea Bag.”

As Jim said on Twitter, this comic “has an Oz, Little Nemo, fantastical steampunk approach.”  To which I reply, shut up and take my money!  As little info as there is on this comic, I’m already stoked and can’t wait to follow the adventures of Figment, the child-like purple dragon, and Dreamfinder, the “steampunk stud” as Jim called him.

Jim was nice enough to answer all sorts of interesting questions with the #ComicChat tag.  He’s a well established writer, with many a comic under his belt.  Check out his site for writing tutorials, FAQs about the comic industry, and more!  You can even read some of his digital comics on comixology.com.  He recommends Skullkickers.

As for the artist, Filipe Andrade has worked with Marvel on loads of different comics.  You can find more information on him on his blog.  And here’s one of my favorite images from one of his other projects.

All in all, this comic looks nothing but good.  Follow @JimZub on Twitter, or keep an eye on this blog for updates.  I’m sure I’ll be doing a review as soon as I get my own copy.

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

Suggested reading: The Map of Time

I want you to take a moment, and breath in a lung-full of air.  Savor the taste of it.  Notice that it’s ordinary, clean of the ozone-spark of anything like magic.  And now that you know what you’ll be leaving behind, let me introduce you to something truly magnificent.

The Map of Time, by Felix J. Palma is without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever read.  It’s not a classic (yet), it’s not Poe, or Dickens, or Wilde, and it’s certainly not flawless, but it is still the very best.  Let me attempt to explain what I mean.

Rather than listing all of the ways this book is exceptional, first let’s take a look at what’s wrong with it.  Palma breaks loads of literary rules.  There are more red-herrings than I can count.  He uses real, dead human beings as characters.  He makes fun of Terminator in the middle of the Victorian era.  He’s writing in Spanish, but writing exclusively about English people.  He switches POV whenever it suits him.  He smashes the 4th wall to bits so frequently that I got used to it, and made fun of his own novel, inside of his own novel!  And yet…  When he breaks these ancient rules, he does it with such grace and smug brilliance that I not only forgave him for it, but I wanted to thank him for his bravery and for proving that it could be done.

I fell in love with this book on the first page.  I had no idea what was in store for me (or H.G.Wells) when I read that first page, but I could smell the magic.  But it’s not just the first page.  Every character in this massive tome (I recommend the eBook simply so that the book is physically manageable) is treated with near-Vernian compassion, which gives them all a full life of their own.  The plot is revealed in endless layer upon layer, each one perfectly plausible at the time and yet obviously ridiculous once you see the next.  The actual events are dense and complexly connected, and yet there is always time to sit down with the Elephant Man for tea, and learn through sublime implications just how human he really is.  How human we all are.

This book is a treasure trove of delight and beauty.  There’s something wonderfully clever around every corner, and something honest, raw, and bittersweet tucking into every silence.  There were moments, when reading this, that I honestly could not put the book down (even if I was supposed to be working, or I was starting to run late for my appointment) because I felt that electric tingle in my blood that always tells you: Stop.  This is rare.  This is something worth being late for.  This, right here, is going to change your world and make it a little wider … even if just by a little.

I should, also, mention that there are actual flaws that I can’t exactly excuse.  There seems to be no filtering when it comes to “romance” or gruesome violence.  Although they are few, some of the scenes are so unexpectedly detailed, and yet surrounded by such charming passages, that I felt they were incongruous with the rest of the book.  And so, as much as I’d like to, I can’t recommend this book to anyone under-aged or easily offended.  I noticed many, many, typos throughout the book, probably due to the fact that it was translated from Spanish to English and is longer than Harry Potter.  And yet…  I found I could forgive Palma all of this, easily.  I guess, in this case, an overwhelming amount of good really can outweigh the bad.

Now, I will not tell you what this book is about.  If I did, it would spoil so many wonderful moments.  So, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.  If you’re fine with your air the way it is, then go read something else.  But, if you’re like me and you prefer your air scented with a hint of magic crackling in the corners, then I have just the book for you.

Try the official first Chapter excerpt right here!

Get the Kindle version (seriously, the paperback is huge!) here.

Check out the gorgeous Official Site.

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

Suggested Reading: Edgar Allen Poe, The Cask of Amontillado

With the coming ghouls and ghosties, that new chill in the air, pumpkin flavored everything, and nature dressed all in her best colors, I thought that this month I’d give you a truly creepy tale from the grand master of horror himself.  But when I looked at the sheer number of amazing stories on offer, I was overwhelmed.  How do you pick ONE great story out of so many?  Then, I remembered my very favorite story by our lovely Poe.

“For the love of God, Montresor…!!”  Ah!  Wonderful.  It’s got costumes, dark catacombs, and murderous intent.  Perfect for Halloween!  Sure, it might not be the scariest Poe story, but I think it’s one of the very best.  If you’ve never read it, you must read it this instant!  If you have read it before, wallow in the nostalgic awesome with me.

This was actually the first Poe story that I ever read myself, when I was about 12 or 13.  If I’m perfectly honest, reading these masterful, dreadful, brilliant words had a huge influence on me.  Young little me, my eyes alight with true wonder, vowed that day to write something even half as good, even if it took the rest of my life.  And I’m still striving for that same goal today.  Enjoy!

THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO
by Edgar Allan Poe

Continue reading

An Extra Suggested Reading: A Pinch of Snuff

Greetings, delicious friends!  Remember that awesome browser game I told you about?  Check out Fallen London now, if you missed it.  Well, if you do remember, and fell as much in love with the game as I did, here’s a lovely little treat for you!

Failbetter is not only working on their new, non-browser PC game, The Sunless Sea, but on comics now as well.  Here’s a tantalizing little taste of the gruesome  and glorious work.

A Pinch of Snuff is a wonderful first taste of a comic series that is only just beginning.   It is dim, dank, and delectable.   The art by Paul Arendt is a perfect example of the sublime and shadowy beauty of Fallen London, while the story by Chris Gardiner is funny and sinister in all the right ways.

To be plainly honest with you, I want them to make more of this comic because I think it could be awesome.  So, please go read it, giggle, comment, and share!  If you have a gently dark sense of humor, or just like a bit of intrigue and bizarre, this little comic is sure to give you a chuckle.

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, comic, or your own work featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

Suggested Reading : Model A (comic)

Have you ever laughed yourself silly watching an old Charlie Chaplin, or Buster Keaton clip?  Do you own robot toys?  Do you still watch Looney Tunes and giggle more than your kids do?  If you answered yes to any these questions, then boy oh boy, do I have a great little treat for you!

Model:A, by Jef Bambas is the story of an obsolete and rather clumsy robot who breaks free of storage and accidentally blows up half the town as he tries to escape the newer models.  But unlike every other comic I’ve ever read, this one feels exactly like an old silent movie, without the the lame, tinny, piano music track.

There is no dialog whatsoever in this book, and true to classic SLG style, no color either.   What there is, however, is some of the best exaggerated motion, comedic timing, and snigger-inducing bad luck I’ve ever seen in any form of still artwork.  I’ve read through the first two books in the series and honestly, the single negative remark I can make about this comic that there isn’t nearly enough of it.

You can get the first section of book one for free (at the moment) at comixology.com, but the full books one and two are available on-line at the links below.  I wish I had more links to share, but this thing is so small that I can’t find any.  I bought the books at a local art fair, directly from the artist.  Even though SLG is famous for giving Jhonen Vasquez his first break with JtHM, it’s still a smallish comic publisher.  I fear that this wonderful little gem could get lost without enough support.

So, give the book a read, giggle like a child, and then tell all your friends!  Let’s drag Model:A out of obscurity and get the artist to write more of it!  Are you with me?!

Get the first section for free!

Buy Book One and Book Two on Amazon.com,

or direct from SLGcomics.com

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

Suggested reading: The Dark Victorian, Risen

The ghost of a kindly Quaker, and a very cheeky skull with a top hat, fight supernatural crimes in London, 1880, during a curious murder spree perpetrated by the illegally reanimated dead.

How could you anyone resist a premise like that?

The Dark Victorian, Risen by Elizabeth Watasin tells a wonderfully gothic, gritty, and intriguing story, full of real-world Victorian values, thrilling dangers, deep mysteries, and otherworldly adventure.

Artifice the ghost, and Jim Dastard the skull, are agents of the mysterious “Prince Albert’s Secret Commission.”  Both of our heroes were executed for the crimes of their previous life.  Now they have both been brought back to half-life and put into the service of the state.  But while they have no conscious memory of their previous incarnation, some things of Artifice’s past are seeping out of the shadows now to haunt her…  Meanwhile, there’s a necromancer running around, raising dead children and sending them out to kill their parents.

Mysteries abound in the shadows of these cold, fogy, London streets.  If you’re in the mood for something chilling, thrilling, and unique, then give this brilliant novella a try!  You can even read a sample of  it on Goodreads, right now!

This novella is available on Amazon.com in paperback and eBook.

Check out the Goodreads page.

Follow Elizabeth Watasin’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook Page.

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

Suggested Reading: Ashes by Kelly Cozy

Jennifer Thomson was having a fairly normal day until the bomb went off.  She survived the terrorist attack by the skin of her teeth, but a photo of her being rescued from the rubble became the single most iconic image of the event.  And that was when the trouble really started.

Meanwhile Sean Kincade, a former covert operative, watched the whole attack and Jennifer’s rescue on TV.  Sick to death of his unwanted retirement in suburbia anyway, he decided to take matters into his own, highly skilled hands.

While I usually only mention steempunky things on this blog, I’m making an exception for this fantastic Author.  Sure, there’s no airships or goggles, but the story is tight, sophisticated, and riveting.  The story follows the protagonists in two separate timelines, much like Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (See!  Steampunk reference!), which only makes the two feel all the more closely connected throughout the book.

Kelly Cozy is not the type to pull punches.  Reading this book is like watching 24: you’ll need a pillow to hide behind, but you won’t take your eyes off the screen for an instant.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hooked by the first bomb blast.  Even if this type of book isn’t your normal fare, I highly recommend it as a thrilling, thought-provoking, and deeply emotional page-turner.

Check out Kelly Cozy on Goodreads, Amazon, and her blog.

Read other reviews of Ashes on Goodreads.

Check out Kelly’s second book, The Day After Yesterday.

Ashes is available in paperback and eBook.

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?

Suggested Reading: Echoes, Neo-Victorian Poetry

If you’re as tired of shallow and pretentious prose as I am, then take a taste of these good old-fashioned, solid, rhyming poems. This lovely little volume will add a touch of class to any library with nearly everything written in iambic pentameter!  And, most important of all, it was written by my mommy.

Janice T is an amazing modern poet who breaths new life into the classic style.  She loves to brag that she’s been writing poetry since she was 11!  The works in this book really have that fermented feeling to them, just like a lovely glass of well aged wine.  You may have also noticed, that one of her poems starts off Clockwork Twist : Waking…

While all of these poems are new and fresh, when I read her work I hear echoes of the great English romantic era poets. Each poem — from the inspiring pace of Train of Thought to the clever satire of Emery — is like taking a vacation from the hectic and hyper-trendy world we live in, to bask in an oasis of clarity and thoughtful repose.

Get the paperback or eBook on Amazon, Creatspace, or Smathwords.

Give it a quick look at the Goodreads page too!

Janice T’s Facebook page.  http://janice-t.weebly.com

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Are you an author who loves Steampunk as much as I do?   Or, are you just a big big fan of a Steampunk/Neo-Victorian author?  Would you like to see  your favorite book, or your own book, featured on this blog?  Please leave a comment on this post with a short pitch and a link!   I’ll happily feature anything that I think will fit the style of my blog.  And even if I don’t feature it, please please leave your info in a comment anyway!  Who doesn’t love new books?