Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Useful, focused, does what it says in the blurb.
on 27 September 2011
This is a clearly written and clearly organised writers' guide. The book is of a substantial length, but most of the second half is potted advice on historical research and time-lines/lists. The advice given in the more useful first half is abundant and relevant. It may be especially useful for a younger/emerging long-form writer who wants to devise a contemporary steampunk novel with a typical plot with all the 'required elements' nailed down, but who doesn't want to: 1) spend months reading _all_ the steampunk there is to read; 2) spend a year reading old original Victorian novels (H.G. Wells, Dickens, Conan Doyle, should keep you going for the first year...); and 3) spend yet more months on reading into the required historical research. The book does, however, rightly stress just how important your original historical research will be for making a success of this sort of novel. Once upon a time steampunk was deemed science-fiction, but now it veers toward supernatural fantasy (currently selling like hot cakes, which may have something to do with the shift) but that doesn't mean you can now throw the research out the window and just go with hazy aery-faerie stuff. This book reflects that shift in taste. That's fine, but it might be a little constricting if a beginner was _only_ guided by this one book. You need to remember it's possible to do all sorts of other things with steampunk. For instance, those wanting to write Lovecraftian steampunk should also look at an excellent how-to writers' book called _Stealing Cthulhu_. Those who want to see how steampunk can be succesfully blended with cyberpunk should look at novels like _The British Empire: Psychic Battalions Against The Morlocks_. There are plenty of other recent examples (romance, war, espionage, literary, comedy etc) that step beyond 'the list' of greats given by the author. Such hybrids-within-hybrids point to the need to layer a whole lot of imagination on top of any basic plot that you might prise out of this book. _Writing Steampunk_ will certainly help you get that basic plot, and with more or less the right patina of basic historical elements and dates. I might have added some additional advice, such as - try writing about a place-with-history near you, but not actually where you live, and re-imagining it as steampunk and then using it as your setting. I bought this book on the Kindle, and felt I had had my money's worth. I'm not sure if I would have felt the same if I had purchased the more expensive print version. Sadly the book on the Kindle is not fronted with a nice book-cover image (although this is probably a mercy, considering the naff cover on the paperback), and the table-of-contents chapter listing is not linked/clickable - I missed such small things, which "set the scene" on first encountering an ebook. Overall, this is worth having on the Kindle.