RRS Roundup: Serial Steam

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’m taking us back into the world of steampunk. But this ain’t your daughter’s steamy McSteampunk. This is genuine anachronistic steampunk.

Spring-heeled Jack and the President’s Ring (The Magnetron Chronicles)

Spring-Heeled Jack on Amazon

First I have to clarify. This is a steampunk serial adventure, but it is not the The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. This one is by D.L. Mackenzie. Part of a planned 5 novelette serial, this second installment picks up with the solving of the mysterious death of Dr. Hogalum by Phineas Magnetron and the rest of the Hogalum Society (Think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with the emphasis on gentlemen).

Truly anachronistic, witty and fun these stories embrace a vocabulary-stretching voice that reflects the Victorian era while sneaking in a bit of the post-modern sense of humor. With a Sherlock Holmes sort of intellect Magnetron endeavors to unwrap the mystery of his deceased mentor all the while coming up against Compost, his arch-enemy.

The supporting cast of gentleman are noteworthy as well. Despite the number of characters, Mackenzie manages to keep them set apart with unique names and backgrounds. There is not a tremendous amount of character development to slow down the story, but each of the gentlemen stands in a position to be called upon to carry a storyline when needed. (A nifty feat for a serial).

While there is a smaller story arc that comes to resolution within this serial, it feels like a minor note in the overall arc. This frustrated me somewhat, but I suppose that is the point of a serial. (Think TV mini-series in print.) At around 100 pages I recommend you Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Diesel & Steam Vs. Magic

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! it’s a rumble for the West. Who will win? The forces of industrialization or nature? First off…

Eve of Destruction (The Chronicles of Eve)

Eve of Destruction coverIn this version of the wild west it is the Industrialists versus the Magi. The Magi are losing. Eve is a young Magi in training. But in response to personal tragedy she grits her teeth and pulls herself up by the bootstraps the magi way… magical fireballs of destruction.

Along the way Eve has her childhood friend, Zach, to stabilize her during her periods of wavering doubt. The result is a sweet and believable sort of relationship. Eve of Destruction goes a bit further with its world building than many of the books in its growing genre of the magical, wild west. (Including some nice lingual touches like, “What in the void…”)

While the book might feel a little preachy to some (Goddess good, industry bad), I felt it fit within the developement of the plot and characters and made for a fun escape from our crusty reality. Read it! Review it! Share it!

The Native Star

Native Star coverI always enjoy a novel that starts with the bad guy. I take it as a good sign that evil will be taken seriously. In the case of Native Star, this is exactly what you get. Albeit brief, the prologue introduces you to a post Civil War America rife with spells and warlocks. And the bad guys are sufficiently bad.

Next the story introduces you to Emilly Edwards, a loyal and hardworking woman of the Sierra Nevadas who accidentally takes up magic. While looking for a man to provide for her aging adopted father, she finds much more than she bargained for… and the rest sort of writes itself! More about the magical society than the alternate history, the backdrop of the Native Star is fantastical and complex. Magic wins in this one, hands down. Read it! Review it! Share it! (*the ebook stands at $8! Sort of a tweener. Not cheap, but not too bad. If you like the free sample, dig in.)

Steampunk has been Steamy McSteamed

Linda Harisson and her furry bikini

Linda Harisson and her furry bikini

I can’t handle any more erotica. (O.K. that didn’t sound right.)  But honestly, does there have to be so much porn in all genre fiction? (In all fiction?) I follow over 100 people’s reviews on Goodreads.com. That may sound like a lot, but I have to follow at least that many to sample two or three reviews everyday that aren’t stinking steamy McSteams.

Et tu, Brute? And now steampunk has followed suit. I’ll be honest, it is the first sign of the end. How many of you knew that the golden Animal House days of randy co-eds were over when Porky’s came out? By Porky’s II? Now all we have left is Girls Gone Wild (which at least drops the pretense of a storyline). Then there were vampires. Don’t even get me started on vampires. [Read more...]

Geeking out at Wild Wild West Con

steam powered giraffe

Steam Powered Giraffe at Wild West Con

[dropcap2]A[/dropcap2] couple of months ago I came out of the shower. Now it’s time I come out of the locker room. (Gasp! What will he come out of next?”) You see, I played high school sports, but it turns out I’ve been a geek at heart all along. Now there’s no denying it. I’ve attended my very first con (nerd lingo for “conference”).

Albeit it wasn’t the legendary San Diego Comic-Con, but it was great fun nonetheless. While wearing a serape and sombrero I sipped cheap Cabernet from a clear plastic cup, surrounded by scads of brethren and sistren bedecked in various wild Western or Victorian English attire.

At first the connecting thread alluded me. My new friends included a lawyer, an IT professional, a musician, college students, retired homemakers, a dancer, a nurse, a librarian, etc. Some in their second decade of living, some in their fifth. What could possibly bond these people together? Until finally I seized upon it — inner geek. [Read more...]

Diesel vs. Steampunk: Publishing Ethics

Dieselpunk VS. Steampunk by nitr0gene

Dieselpunk VS. Steampunk by nitr0gene

[dropcap2]W[/dropcap2]hen it comes to ethics, the RedneckGranola is driven by a prime directive — “stick it to the man.” Basically, greed and injustice demand civil disobedience. Thus sneaking food into a movie theater that charges two dollars for popcorn is unethical, while a theater that charges six dollars demands that I sneak in food to support the cause of the globally popcorn-oppressed. Simple. (a 200% markup is business, a 1000% markup is oppression).

But when it comes to the self-publishing ethics and marketing ethics of my upcoming novel, where do I draw the line? It has been said that “a duck is a duck is a duck.” But one could also respond, “duck, duck, goose,” so you can see my problem. (Truly mine is a dizzying intellect.) When writing a dieselpunk, weird Western, pulp adventure story there are two main options available for its marketing: [Read more...]

What of dieselpunk/steampunk for a redneckgranola?

Diesel Forces by Stefan Prohaczka

As a casual pop culture observer you may have noted the recent trend in movies and books of gluing gears and goggles on everything. Or a slight bump in our collective fascination with things such as “Inglorious Bastards,” a recent film combining an alternate history of WWII with spaghetti-western styling. Whether you knew it or not, punk culture is creeping its tendrils into the crap factory of the American Idol age (extending from Madonna to Gaga.)

While scientists have yet to determine (what will certainly be) the catastrophic effects of such a mutant matching (think Michael Jackson’s Thriller meets the Sex Pistols at a Hogwarts reunion), for now we can all sit back and enjoy the ride. But to enhance said enjoyment you’ll need a primer on the evolving punk cultures/genres. So here goes! [Read more...]

The Weird West Reboot

TV's The Wild, Wild West

[dropcap2]I[/dropcap2]n the 1960′s, as the American genre of the Western guttered in its final death throes, a new sort of Western birthed onto the scene replacing the Wild West with what has become known as the Weird West. Most prominently, the Weird West is defined by its landmark accomplishment, CBS Studio’s The Wild Wild West.

Aside: After my last post, it has come to my attention that several of you, my faithful readers, have begun to question the lucidity of my waking state (and whether mind-altering substances might be involved). But I assure you, the indelibility of my turpitude is purely natural (and more importantly, untransferable).

Unsurprisingly, considering the fact that CSI’s newest show will be based in Lake Wobegon (just kidding, it’s probably going to end up being Seattle) CBS has resorted to rebooting old favorites. This season they gave us the chance to feel the sun and surf course through our veins as we lip sync the gritty phrase, “Book ‘em, Danno.” It appears that for the coming season, attempts will be made to revive The Wild Wild West, the poster child of all that is weird with westerns. [Read more...]