Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: The Steam Punk



I do like the cover on this one. The play on the Vitruvian Man is clever, and at the same time, it focuses completely on the most important element of the story – the mech suit. There's even the wheel with the three coloured stones in it.

The novel itself was kind of Iron Man meets Final Fantasy VII. I enjoyed the world-building. The main magic in the world consists of people capable of manipulating the surges – essentially an elemental type of magic. There are fire surges, water, air, earth, lightning, and, well, pretty much all the   magic types in Final Fantasy. Fairly standard, but then there's the steampunk element where the author throws in technology that allows people with no natural ability to manipulate the surges to use them by drawing it from crystallized forms of those elements. Basically, FFVII materia. You stick it in your weapon/mech suit, and it gives you magic powers. And I've always liked the idea of magic combined with technology. That's probably why I love Final Fantasy. Did I mention I love Final fantasy? I do.

Then there was the society. It's a land colonized by an empire. The Imperials in control look down their noses at the native Oryegan populace, abuses their power, and does pretty much what every colonizing people has done to the native populace in the area. I did notice though, that the technology level of the two – natives and colonizers – was fairly close. There was never mention of one having superior technology, only of the Tirtirian colonizers considering the Oryegans socially inferior.

That made me wonder, because that aspect of the novel seemed real enough to me to think the author must have spent some significant time somewhere that is or has been colonized. Then I read he currently lives in Korea, and had to check Wikipedia, because I had no idea Korea had been colonized by Japan.

The spot I felt the world-building was a bit lacking though, was the technology itself. While I appreciate the difficulty in describing how magic interacts with real mechanics, but the descriptions of that element waxed a tad vague.

The plot was a fairly predictable superhero plot – Yulo sees people suffering and uses his special talents to fight it. Only it's a little fresher in that instead of fighting crime to uphold the law because the law needs his help, even though he works outside it, here, the Empire seems to be the enemy. And I never identified with Superman and Spiderman, myself. Growing up, my favourite heroes were Robin Hood and Zorro - outlaws fighting a corrupt government. So naturally, that goes over well with me.

The characters were fairly stock –  orphaned Yulo, being raised by his uncle, with his bull headed, rush into everything attitude. His friend Marus who blindly supports the law no matter what. Then there was Kyrina, Yulo's cousin, though they have a sibling relationship. She has a thing for Marus, but it was nice to not fall into the love triangle pit here.

The writing itself was a little precocious, but possibly not worse style wise than the debut novels of some of my favourite authors. The copy editing on the other hand, left something to be desired. After the first 20 pages with no typos, there was a typo about every five pages through the rest of the book. If that drives you nuts, be warned.

But overall, I enjoyed it - four out of eight cylinders.

Monday, October 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo


It's that time of year again, when thousands of brave writers get together and hammer out 50k words in the 30 days of November, for National Novel Writing Month.

I've done this for the last six years. I said I wasn't going to do it when, my friend, Turtle invited me to join her. Then three days in I felt left out and joined.

I've made my 50k for the last 3 years. Yeah, it took me three failed years to finally make it, but let me tell you, the high that first time I made it, hours before the deadline - it was a great writing moment. That was 2009, when I wrote "The Box".

In 2010 I wrote "The Eyelet Dove" which is the one I've spent the last year and a half revising, and just recently finished. It's been a long time since I've worked on a series, and my original idea of "The Eyelet Dove" was a standalone. But then I got ideas - I was still in love with the world, see. The ideas have percolated in my mind - some that I hadn't been able to squeeze into the Eyelet Dove, some entirely new. Then a new character appeared, and a couple of the old ones insisted that they had stories of their own to tell.

So the sequel is born and it's being called "Redwing". And that's what I'm letting myself write this year for Nano. For me, Nano is a chance to get caught up in the whirlwind of that push to get stuff done, and get a first draft done. My first drafts tend to be skeletal. Setting description and mood and all those lovely things - they go in when I revise. Nano is about getting the story down so I have something to revise. Can't revise what you haven't written.

So for the writers out there following the Punkettes, how about you? Are you doing it this year? What are you writing? If you'd like, post your screen name so people can friend you. (Mine is Lindenfoxcub.)

Good luck to all participants, and for all those not participating, cheer us on!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

And the Winners are...

If you are not one of the NINE winners below don't worry-- we have many more awesome giveaway's planned, so stay tuned!





And the Winners are...



The Winners of the Author reviews are;
1. Jordan Francis
2. Scarlet
3. Clay

Please send the bio to theclockpunkette(at)gmail(dot)com along with your author of choice!  Also note: If you were one of the original winner that didn't come forward until now, we will still honour your review (first five pages instead of ten).


The winner of a handcrafted clothing article from Cosmicflair designs is: Red! Please contact the steampunkette at thesteampunkette@gmail.com


The winner of the Steampunk Squirrel Poster, Signed by the artist, the talented Carollyne Yardley is: Raina Parikh

  I love this poster and am slightly jealous that I couldn't enter the draw! Contact the thesteampunkette(at)gmail(dot)com to redeem your prize.
Steampunk Book of Choice: Can you choose between Whitechapel Gods and Soulless, and the winner is Jay Noel Jay please contact the thesteampunkette(at)gmail(dot)com to redeem your prize. 

Congrats Karina Ellis you win the awesome hand crafted gear pendant necklace! Contact the thesteampunkette(at)gmail(dot)com to redeem your prize.

 The winner of the Steampunk Cuff From RadJuli Custom Designs is: Jazz lim! Please contact the steampunkette at thesteampunkette@gmail.com




Last, but not least, the winner of the Literary Agent Review is Natalie Andrews! Natalie, please contact the clockpunkette at theclockpunkette@gmail.com to claim your prize.



 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Last Draw



The Prizes

To enter all you have to do is follow our blog. (Those that commented on previous posts will have 2 entries per the prize you requested!)


1.) Literary Agent Review: Have the first five pages of your manuscript read and reviewed by a literary agent from Bookharvest Literary Agency. An excellent opportunity to get constructive advice, and you never know, they could want more!


2) Author Review: Win the punkette of your choice to read and review the first ten pages of your manuscript. Three prizes available.


3) Steampunk Cuff From RadJuli Custom Designs: Win this wicked, handcrafted leather cuff. No steampunk costume is complete without one. RadJuli Custom Designs


4) Handcrafted clothing article from cosmicflair designs. Look your best in a one-of-a-kind, steamy fashion statement. cosmicflair designs

May not be as pictured.

5) Steampunk Squirrel Poster: Win this adorable little guy to hang on your wall. Signed by the artist, the talented Carollyne Yardley. About the Artist


6) Steampunk Book of Choice: Can you choose between Whitechapel Gods and Soulless? You may have to if you win the steampunk book of your choice...



7) Handcrafted Drop Down Gear Necklace: Don't forget to accessorize! Take some steampunk flair with you wherever you go with this unique necklace designed by the steampunkette.



And that's it folks! Don't forget to leave a comment down below about which prize you'd like most! If you've already commented on one of the prizes listed you are already entered for that prize, so don't worry, we won't forget you! Our lovely clockpunkette will be drawing the prizes in the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

               

Monday, October 8, 2012

Winnipeg Steampunk Ball

I wasn't sure if I was going to go to this, because I was having a hard time getting the day off work, but in the end, I decided I really wanted to go, and just took my corset and flight goggles to work with me and went from work.



 And I'm glad I did, I had a great time. It was like a little bit of Keycon packed into one night. There were about a hundred and fifty people there, and I swear I have never seen so many people in full steampunk costume. So many people, put so much effort into costumes, it was worth going just to walk around and look at people.

By far the best though, was the guy with the wings. They laid flat against his back, and he had a lever or pull cord or something that made them flip up:


DJ Gopher did the music, and was wonderful as always. The Illuminari bellydance group performed to Abney Park and a couple others I didn't recognize:


And you know that Gangnam Style song? Holy cow did people get into that song - there was even the two guys doing the elevator scene pose. There was the traditional Rasputin dance, as well as the Da Da Slide - both always fun.

And the raffles - I won two! One basket with a mug, some chocolates and a copy of The Mammoth Book of Steampunk:


And then I won one of the two Grand Prizes. I saw it on the table and I was like, OMG, that is so ridiculous (ridiculously awesome!) - my husband would kill me if I brought that home.


Now, look at that, and imagine if you will, that puppy is just under SIX FEET LONG! I'm five foot three. The thing is more than half a foot taller than me. Oh man, I got looks on the bus on the way home!

Thanks go out to Diana Ped and the other folks of the Temporal Airship Beagle, who organized the event, and to everyone who donated prizes. Also, compliments to the artisan who made the giant gun. I'll have more pictures of me with it later. I have named it "Ishmael." It's for hunting sky whales.

Needless to say, I will be making every effort to make it to their next event, whenever that is.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review:The Map of Time








The Map of Time was first published in Spain in 2008. It was translated into English and has gone on to become an international best seller. The description of Mr. Palma’s Map of Time on Amazon is as follows:



“Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and thereby save the lives of an aristocrat in love with a murdered prostitute from the past; of a woman bent on fleeing the strictures of Victorian society; and of his very own wife, who may have become a pawn in a 4th-dimensional plot to murder the authors of Dracula, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in order to alter their identities and steal their fictional creations.”



I was drawn to The Map of Time in the bookstore before I knew exactly what it was about. The cover just looked so magical and promising. Sadly, I’m not a huge time travel fan, which certainly has colored my opinion on this particular novel. I’m warning you, you will want to limber up your brain before you start this one. Do a few mental push ups and bicep curls, because this isn't light reading.



What I Liked About it:

Palma is, without a doubt, a talented writer. His skillful prose and commitment to research shines through, and any steampunk will find themselves delighted with all the little Victorian details in the story, everything from tidbits about way of life, to details about the Jack the Ripper murders. He writes the character of HG Wells very well, and you get to like Wells in spite of his character flaws (because of his flaws and hesitations he becomes real). Palma weaves a complex trifecta of plots and manages to tie them in together, despite how impossible it seems.



What I Didn't Like About it:

As I mentioned before, this is no light read. At times I found myself scratching my head, or putting the book down in frustration, because I kept asking myself “Where is this going?” There are essentially three different stories that go on in this book, three that seem completely unattached to one another. I felt sort of like the plot was yanking me around, like I needed a road map to keep up with the Map of Time (har, har). Eventually things do come together, but some people might find some of the turning points that this complex plot hinges on, to be a bit ridiculous, or unbelievable.


The narrative is in the Victorian style of fiction, which may bother some people. Personally, I find it irritating when the author breaks the fourth wall, and Palmer smashes it with a sledge hammer. I found myself jerked out of the story each time he did it, and I found some of the time it was to explain something he shouldn't have had to. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that a lot of it is tongue in cheek, and meant to be fun and quirky, but I found it took away from the story itself. The veil between the author’s personal thoughts and the character’s is very thin at times.



In Conclusion:

Would I recommend Map of Time for steampunk reading? Absolutely. The detailed descriptions of Victorian life and sensibilities are a delight to read, and it’s a very entertaining adventure. If you love intricate plots, time travel, ripper lore, tragic love and complex mysteries then you should certainly give this one a read.



Rating:

Five out of ten octopus legs (picture of cute octopus missing several limbs coming soon).