Saturday 29 May 2010


What links:
a) console games like 'Damnation', B.Sokal's 'Syberia' and 'Reasonance Of Fate'.
b) 'The Wild, Wild West' - both the tv series and the movie.
c) Writers like Jules Verne, H.G.Wells and Mary Shelley.

The easy answer is the possibility that without the influences of the writers none of those above would have existed.
Extraordinary worlds where flying dreadnoughts and T.A.R.D.I.S like submarines are totally acceptable and have influenced other writers like Michael Moorcock and Orson Scott Card.
It is like a sub-genre that embraces science fiction, fantasy and alternative histories set against the dark, industrial days of Victorian and Edwardian England. Even the wild west can be incorporated into this world - an alternative weird west. Maybe, even a 'Wild, Wild West'.
In the 1980's/1990's this type of fiction was given a name - steampunk - as most stories were set in the age of steam.
Nor is that far fetched as in 1923 a percentage of cars owned in the US were either steam driven or powered by electricty. In fact both types of car existed long before petrol driven vehicles came into being.
Steampunk has a wider leeway than most fiction - and a following amongst gamers.

In the current issue of Black Horse Extra (there is a link in the side panel) there is and article by Black Horse Western writer David Whitehead about the need to change the way of the west to appeal to new readers. Everything that he says sounds right and I cannot argue with him on that.

In a curious way the western is a kind of steampunk. Sounds daft - but steam trains and the ironclads of the American Civil War can be found in that sub-genre.

To some extent I do believe that if writers do want to catch the imagination of the young then the books that they want to read have to be written. Whether that is the book of the game or a brave new world - whether it is to give a new slant to sci-fi or the western - writers can change the game.


Annette Thomson said...

Oops - I just realised I didn't leave contact details!

Annette Thomson said...

Hi! My name is Nettie Writer & I am chair of Meldrum Writers' Group. We are a small group meeting in NE Scotland and we set ourselves small mini-competitions in order for us to hone our craft. Our next competition is to write a short story with a maximum of 5000 words in the Western genre. I was wondering if you would do us the honour of judging? Our deadline is 17th August and we are in no great hurry to have the result. There would be a maximum of 6 stories, but more likely only 4 and we would be happy to email them to you.
Please let us know if you can help and thank you for taking the time to read this. Many thanks, Nettie x