Thursday, November 17, 2011

Steampunk Heroines FTW!

Some of you may not be familiar with my insane, obsessive adoration for the Leviathan series by Westerfeld (who also wrote the amazing uglies series, totally required reading for the YA author). It's more than just the awe-inspiring alternate reality—Georgian England with Darwinist Beasties, the Great War fought with man-made machines and engineered creatures alike—or the heart-stopping adventures. It's the people who inhabit this strange world.

One of my favorite characters in recent years is one of the pov characters of Leviathan, Dylan Sharp. He's the embodiment of the future of British aeronautics, or he would be, if he weren't actually a girl named Deryn. O_o ?

While the idea of a girl masquerading as a boy isn't exactly an original idea, especially for period novels, Westerfeld gives Deryn such a strong personality, and makes you care for her so deeply, that there's no way she could be considered your stereotypical girl playing dress-up. Westerfeld has obviously put a lot of thought into her character, as evinced in a quote from a great article I read this morning on Steampunk heroines:

“The steampunk movement is partly about messing up the stuffy ways of the Victorians,” Scott Westerfeld, author of the popular Leviathan series, said. “Adding anachronistic technology and modern social mores to that very constrained period is a bit like bringing a flame-thrower to a tea party."

That's Deryn all over. I don't want to say to much to spoil the story for those who haven't read it, so why not pick up a copy for your next read? It has pictures! ;)

I also hope you take the time to read the rest of the article if you've never read any Steampunk. Though I'm familiar with Westerfeld's writing and I've read Gail Carriger's Soulless, I've never read Cherie Priest's Boneshaker. It's set in the US, which I love. Apparently, Cherie's philosophy on writing steampunk to is to put your own unique spin on it, and follow your gut:

“There is nothing punk about letting other people tell you about how to participate in your hobby,” Priest said.

Which is exactly the approach I've been using to write the wip.

Are any of y'all steampunk fans? Anyone tried their hand at writing any? Do you stick to real history, or make it up as you go along? (which seems to be my method, lol)

Are you punk?!


JEM said...

I loooooooooove the concept of steampunk, but I haven't found a book that I really want to dive into. I started the Boneshaker book (the concept sounded AMAZING), but it was really technical. Reminded me of sci-fi, which I don't at all enjoy. I also tried to read Uglies and didn't enjoy it, so I haven't picked up Leviathan. But I really want to. You promise it's worth it? I'll hold you to it :).

Tere Kirkland said...

Haha! Yeah, I've heard that Boneshaker is a little dry, but I figure it's time to give it a chance, since I'm writing my own alternate reality America.

But seriously, Leviathan is amazing. The action alone that drives the story would be enough to make me keep reading, but it's my love for Dylan that had me eagerly awaiting each new installment.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love Scott Westerfeld's books--Leviathan and Uglies series. He's so inventive, the world-building is superb, as well as the character development.

Krispy said...

I ADORED Dylan/Deryn. She just got more and more awesome as the books went. Such a bamf. :) But yes, on top of that, my favorite thing about the series had to be the worldbuilding. Such gorgeous, wonderful worldbuilding!

As you know, I love steampunk though I haven't actually read a lot of it. But I like the aesthetic of the whole thing. Other than Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series and the Leviathan trilogy, the only other steampunk I've read recently is The Iron Thorn. It was an interesting world, but a little hard to get through because it's densely descriptive (but also kind of weirdly hard to imagine?). I'm also working on a fantasy with Alz right now that has steampunk trappings. :)

Alexandra Shostak said...

Yes ma'am! I love to read and write steampunk! The one dark fantasy novel I wrote for adults started out as steampunk--the darkness and zombies took over, but there are still some cool gadgets and I like to say it has a steampunk twist. And I always make up my own history. ;)

Golden Eagle said...

I love steampunk--it's one of my favorite genres/subgenres. I've never really tried writing it myself, though I'd love to try to someday.

And Deryn Sharp is an awesome character!

Tere Kirkland said...

For some reason this comment from Sophia only showed up in my email, but it's too good to leave out!:

Sophia Chang has left a new comment on your post "Steampunk Heroines FTW!":

"No. I am very not punk. I have zero interest in steampunk and the hipster-ness of it in L.A. makes me kind of hate it automatically. I went to a 4th of July gathering at some steampunk themed club downtown 3 years ago and instantly hated every single hipster who wore those stupid metal goggles and overpriced buckles.

There I said it.

Aren't you glad you asked? :P"

ROFL, I had no idea the hipsters in your region were so nerdy. Ours are all into obscure bands no one's ever heard of, and eating in the trendy ethnic restaurants. I just hope jacking steampunk isn't next on the horizon for them.

As Cherie said, it ain't punk to let others dictate what steampunk is to you. So it sure as sh^t ain't punk to hop on the brass-goggle bandwagon just because it looks 'cool'. :P

TGE, Krispy, if I'd read this as a kid, I'd have wanted to BE Deryn. She's a great role-model for girls, IMO.

Alexandra, isn't it freeing to be able to throw the pages of history in the bin like that and rewrite it? I think that's one of my favorite aspects of the wip!