Work continues apace on the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with my most recent contributions including a place-holder entry on Ken Liu. I say place-holder because I am sure he will be winning a bunch more awards before long. I’ve also written entries on Ryu Murakami and Hiromu Arakawa, but I’m probably proudest of the one I’ve done on Tora Kizu. I like “The Wedding Shrouded in Grey” so much that I’m actually translating it at the moment with Motoko Tamamuro, although I have no idea who would be interested in buying a Japanese steampunk story from 1927.
Out today, Brian Robb’s new book Steampunk: Victorian Visionaries, Scientific Romances and Fantastic Fictions, notable among a slew of lesser works on the sub-genre by devoting a whole chapter to its Japanese manifestations, which include Japan-only spin-offs from the John Carter series, Rhett Butler running guns to the Shogun, Emily Bronte in a time machine, and a novel called simply Steampunk! which has trains in it. And dinosaurs. Another possibility for your Christmas stocking, perhaps…?
Quoth the blurb: “Simultaneously a literary movement, ultra-hip subculture and burgeoning cottage industry, Steampunk is the most influential and arresting new genre to emerge from the late twentieth century. Spinning tales populated with clockwork Leviathans, cannon-shots to the moon and coal-fired robots, it charts alternative histories in which the British Empire never fell or where the atom remained unsplit. A term first coined in 1987 by science fiction author K.W.Jeter, Steampunk was born of myriad influences: the classic scientific romances of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley, a growing nostalgia for Victoriana and an ironic reaction to the dystopian futurescapes of Cyberpunk. Today it has grown to become a global aesthetic, making its mark on art, architecture, fashion and even music. This wide-ranging, beautifully-illustrated and much needed history explores the genre’s many intricate expressions, tracing its development in fiction, cinema, television, comics, videogames and beyond. From the futuristic visions of Fritz Lang and the otherworldly imaginings of Alan Moore and Hayao Miyazaki, to Doctor Who’s adventures in time and space and the dark fantasies of China Miéville, Brian J. Robb sets the key works of Steampunk squarely under the lens of his brass monocle, examining their ideas and themes in forensic detail.”
I’ve got an article up on the Manga UK blog today about the Japanese prequels, sequels and pastiches to John Carter of Mars. This draws, of course, on the work I’ve been doing for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia to chronicle Japanese authors like Hitoshi Yoshioka. There’s also a little bit about Japanese steampunk that doesn’t get any attention abroad.
Over on his blog, Andy Frankham interviews John Ainsworth and me about our work on the Space 1889 audio dramas. I can’t believe it’s already been six years since they came out.
Doing this reminds me I must write up my discoveries on Japanese steampunk soon. There are some really amazing stories I uncovered while working on the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, including Rhett Butler vs samurai and Byron’s daughter in space.