Monday, April 29, 2013

The Entire Universe

When any writer creates an alternate world in science fiction or fantasy, they know so much more about that world than can ever make it into a book. I suppose they could add it, but snippets about customs, economics, politics, food, clothes, geography, religion, etc would take away from the story.
That's one of the fun things about a blog. It can have all those deeper details that don't make it into the book, or authors notes about the books in general.

I love steampunk and initially envisioned Devil's Concubine as a steampunk novel. Most steampunk stories focus on competitive technologies (The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfield) or the inventors, or even just on the very cool machines and the exciting people who use them (the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist, and Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Johnathan Howard, to name some of my favorites). But in most of those worlds, which tend to focus on Victorian England or close substitutes for Europe, the societies have somewhat equal access to technology. What about the people who don't? That was a core question when writing Devil's Concubine.

In the United States, the wild west happened contemporaneously with early automobiles on the streets of Manhattan. Even now, citizens around the globe use smart phones, which are basically hand held computers, while there are still tribes using stone age technology. So while there is technology of a sorts on Ponong, the advanced gadgets will usually be something that they hear about but only a fraction of that technology will make it to the island. That's a more realistic portrayal of the way technology is distributed than showing it as universal. Besides, that way I get to show the frustrations of a population cut off from the cool toys, and how disruptive technology can be. But I'm still dreaming up cool toys, because who doesn't love a shiny new gadget? And air ships. Love those airships. Oooh, and goggles.


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