Monday 5 September 2011

Guest post: steampunk and the world of Pax Britannia

The Summer of Steampunk continues over at our special Pax Britannia Facebook page - this week we'll be continuing with the competitions AND bringing you news of our special, super, mega, big steampunk announcement...

To kick off the new week with a bang, we asked the authors behind Pax Britannia to give their views on steampunk, writing in the genre, what makes it so much fun and why more people should read them.

First off today, we have Mr Jonathan Green:

Why do I like reading and writing steampunk adventures? Because they’re cool, that’s why. Even if they’re set in the future, they hark back to a time when there wasn’t a corner of the globe that couldn’t be explored, where there wasn’t a machine that couldn’t be built to do whatever it was that needed to be done, when the British Empire was at its height, driven on but an almost endemic sense of indefatigable optimism.

Steampunk is born of that science fiction staple “What if?”

What if the rule of the British Empire had never ended? What if Babbage’s analytical engine had been completed – and worked? What if H G Wells and Jules Verne weren’t writing science fiction but science fact? It’s precisely those questions I asked myself when I first came up with the world of Pax Britannia and created my dandy protagonist, and Hero of the Empire, Ulysses Quicksilver.

My first experience of steampunk was Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates. Later came 2000AD’s John Smith-scripted Jack the Ripper Indigo Prime thriller Killing Time and Alan Moore’s meta-fictional The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

As well as clanking machinery, vast gothic revival backdrops and rivets by the thousand, they brought with them a certain sense of decorum, of elegance, of style, of – well – Britishness, goddammit! Tea in china cups, duelling at dawn on Hampstead Heath, locomotives constructed with an artificer’s eye to detail, along with top hats, frock coats and monocles everywhere you looked.

What wasn’t there to like, when all around us in modern society we are confronted by the total antithesis of these things on a daily basis. (I’m thinking more here about a general lack of good manners and respect for one’s elders, rather than people drinking coffee out of paper cups.)
It was this that I was, in part, trying to emulate in my own steampunk creation, the world of Pax Britannia.

The great thing about the Pax Britannia setting is that it is just that. After nine books (with more on the way) and various short stories, totalling some three quarters of a million words altogether, Pax Britannia has grown to become something that is far greater than merely the sum of its parts.

And because of that, because it is such a richly painted setting, you can write pretty much any kind of story you want to set within it. Whether it’s action-adventure, horror, murder mystery, spy thriller, superhero pastiche, romance, ghost story, out-and-out SF, war story or time travel caper, all have their place within the world of Pax Britannia.

So if you’ve not experienced Pax Britannia yet for yourself, then what, quite frankly, are you waiting for? The game is, after all, most definitely afoot!

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