—First of all, who are you, guys, and where are you from?
Lynne Lumsden Green: I am a Steampunk Enthusiast from Southeast Queensland. I am an active member of my local Steampunk Community, and I give seminars about what Steampunk is at libraries and pop culture conferences. I run ‘Steampunk Sunday’ on Facebook, which started out as a resource for writers but ended up an ‘inspiration’ page for anyone interested in Steampunk.
Paulo César Ramírez Villaseñor: I am from Mexico. I am the Director and one of the writers in the digital magazine El Investigador (Steampunk and other retrofuturisms), since March, 2011. I was the coordinator of the anthology Ácronos, Antología Steampunk Vol 1 (Tyrannosaurus Books, Febrero 2012) and Ácronos Antología Steampunk Vol 2 (Tyrannosaurus Books, Febrero 2013) with Josué Ramos; in which I published two short tales: “Búfalo Black” and “La Revolución de los hermanos Serdán”.
My first novel, Reward, will be published in Spain in a few months with NeoNauta Ediciones.
Lukáš Z. Herma: I come from Czech Republic. I am 23 years old and I study law and law science. I don’t believe that I have some key role in Czech steampunk community, we have bigger figures than me – for example beautiful ladies Barbara Lich and Margueritte Weinlich. Or for example Martin Králík with his e-magazine Jupiter has done very, very much for steampunk community. I have had some lectures about steampunk at the biggest Czech con Festival fantazie and I have published few steampunk stories.
—Why is steampunk important to you?
LLG: I was a fan of the Steampunk literary genre before the word was coined. I was drawn into the community when I realised that it was also an Aesthetic and Subculture. I enjoy the contrast of science fiction with alternative history, particularly when a mash-up is involved. I write both science fact and fiction, so I think it is the perfect genre for me.
PCRV: Because of its variety of arts. Literature, visual, costume, painting, music… Besides, I think it is a perfect scenario to include studies of human science, History or even psychology and politics. All depends on you, of what you want to do.
—Why is the steampunk community important to you? Why are you so involved?
LLG: I found the community full of people interested both in hard science and in flamboyant creativity. More importantly, the people are always prepared to support each other – which is why I am participating in ‘Hands’. We really are a community, in the truest sense of the word, since we are working together to make things happen for the benefit of the community.
Short answer: fun, friendship with like-minded people, and acceptance.
PCRV: There is no movement without a community of people involved on it. Besides, all that remain without a community is stagnation. If you enjoy and love, being involved on it, knowing and learning every day is the less you can do. It is the only way to make a better community.
LZH: Steampunk community in Czech Republic is full of wonderful people. I like every one of them. It is why I love being part of this community. Everyone has his story, why he or she got to steampunk. They are full of ideas and very talented. It is why I am involved.
|Lukáš Z. Herma in FenixCon 2013|
—What benefits do you see others and yourself gaining from being part of the community? How has steampunk affected, changed, enhanced your view of the world, the people in it, and your place in all of that?
LLG: Wow. It could take ten pages to answer this question. Short answer?
What others gain? A love for science and gadgets and history and an enjoyment of the Victorian aesthetic.
What have I gained? A whole bunch of friends. Self-respect, because I contribute to my community. The world is a much more interesting place.
PCRV: Each and every maker or artists earns a lot being part of the Steampunk community. His/her work is shared, promoted… and the community is very lovely and hospitable. Personally, I got the lucky to interact with steampunks from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Spain, USA, Germany, France… and other countries. It gives you a new point of view, and you realize that there is richness in Steampunk with the vision of each country. I always try to understand what Steampunk means for each person, sometimes sharing my own vision and sometimes not sharing it always with respect for others.
LZH: It gave me many great friends. Steampunk is for me hove for better future, because our modern world is sic. Maybe, just maybe, when enough people will adopt ideals of the 19.century, we will be able to change it for better.
—Let’s talk a few words about your works. What did you wrote and why?
LLG: I haven’t had a Steampunk novel published. The one I am currently writing will be a Young Adult novel, about a Botanist, Professor Alice, who creates amazing ‘gadgets’ using living plants.
PCRV: My first short tale was an adaptation of John Henry’s story Afro-American hero of the American folklore. It represents the fight of the oppressed against those who had the power.
My second short tale, in Ácronos 2, is ambience in the beginning of the 20th century in Mexico. I told the story of a family and their intention to fight against the dictator fo the country. It’s inspired by an important Historic episode during Mexican Revolution.
And my first novel, Reward, is a Western uchronia, with a bunch of forajidos commanded by a Mexican.
I like to create not so common stories in Steampunk, you see. I try to show that the world was more than only London and Steampunk is more than steam and gears. I use it as an opportunity to give voice to oppressed people.
LZH: I wrote many steampunk novels, published just some of them.
My favourite character is Tomáš Weber, Austrian-Hungary engineer, which emigrated to Russia and now works in Volgograd, developing modern weapons – Walkers. My stories are about him and about downfall of the Russian royalty at the beginning of the 20th century. I have published two stories about him, "Černá královna" (Black Queen), in the anthology Mlok 2013 and "Na domácí frontě" (On the home front) in the e-magazin Jupiter 6/2013. I write this, because I believe, that realms of Russian empire in the end of 19th century are perfect for steampunk.
Than I have published short story "Červená Karkulka" (Little Red Riding Hood) in the magazine Drakkar (only one of my stories, which is translated into English). This story is very dark, about little girl working in the factory, running for freedom. Sometime I like to write dystopian steampunk, where techno optimism is deformed into some monstrosity.
This year I will publish novel Starý Jack (Old Jack), post-apocalyptic steampunk about pirates. To be honest I believe, I have stolen few ideas from the Last Exile for this one...
|Lynne Lumsden Green|
—How do you create Steampunk? Is it different than writing other genres? Do you feel it different?
LLG: Creating Steampunk is complex. It is a blend of so many concepts, and you have balance the historical, cultural and scientific facets with having an adventure and a jollification. I find it takes a lot more research to write in properly.
PCRV: When I am writing, I think in real History, even when it is not necessary to the story. I think research is important in order to create a realistic world.
I think it is not different when you write in other genres. You can not write about you don’t know. You can create a new world of steam, airships, gadgets and fantasy; but you must create it with plausibility, and it is only possible when you do your research first. Nevertheless, I think Steampunk is very aesthetic and translate that vision to words is not always easy.
LZH: It feels like home, like you are doing the right thing. Many things are just natural. You can feel them, while writing steampunk, and don’t have to think about them. This is the biggest difference.
—As a Steampunk, reader or writer, what do you think about the actual situation of the community? How do you feel it?
LLG: I think Steampunk is gaining favourable mainstream recognition, thanks to writers like China Miéville, Stephen Hunt, Michael Pryor, among others. I think the literary genre is still growing and changing, which I see as a good thing.
I think the community as a whole is thriving. Fifty years from now, there will still be Steampunk Enthusiasts.
PCRV: I got two feelings. In one hand, we are in a period of reborn in Literature. And that’s very good because it gives us the chance to read new books written by new writers with their new stories. But, on the other hand, I see that the aesthetic is too much in these books: covers with sexy Victorian girls, for example. I don’t think it would help to the growing of the readers and writers. I know people expecting new movies to show what Steampunk is and I believe that it will only be possible with good books.
LZH: Czech steampunk community is not very strong in numbers. But I don’t think that it is bad thing. It is full of talented people. So I believe, that I have nothing to complain about. That our community is just as it should be.
—Do you know something about Spanish Steampunk? What do you think about it?
LLG: I know that Stephen Hunt lives in Spain. I also have a couple of friends who a Spanish-speaking Steampunk Enthusiasts.
PCRV: I think Steampunk is young in Spain yet; but it grew a lot, fast and strong in some disciplines. We got four anthologies right now: Steampunk: Antología Retrofuturista (Fabulas de Albión, 2012), Ácronos. Vol. 1 (Tyrannosaurus Books, 2013), Steam Tales (DLorean 2013) and Ácronos. Vol. 2 (Tyrannosaurus, 2014) and more than a dozen individual novels published. I think it is growing with good roots.
Besides, Spain showed in the last EuroSteamCon that Steampunk is growing a lot there. And it helps a lot to the literature. It gives new chances to the other Spanish-speaker countries.
After all, Spanish is the second language in the world.
LZH: Just what have you told me about it, nothing more... I have never been to any Spanish steampunk con, but I believe, than in time this will change.
|Paulo César Ramírez Villaseñor|
—If you could package it as a gift and give it to others, what is your personal best, happiest, favourite moment in your involvement in steampunk?
LLG: Just one? Hmmm. Getting to dress the Mayor of Ipswich in Steampunk gear has to rate very highly. The Ipswich Art Gallery invited a small group of Steampunk Enthusiasts as guests to the opening of a Steampunk art show, which was a High Tea. We brought clothes for the guest to borrow, and our mayor joined in the fun.
PCRV: Steampunk gave me a lot of time of joy. I am very proud of being invited by Kevin to be part of Steampunk Hands Around The World and the possibility to meet new Steampunk from all over the world and being working together with those that I already met, those who I consider my friends. I would make a gift with it.
Next day: Music!