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Author Topic: Western Steampunk  (Read 11220 times)
Thalesia Turnblood
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« on: July 01, 2007, 04:41:20 am »

Or Weird West, as I understand it from reading these forums.

(Forgive my unasked opinion, especially since it's my first post, but I greatly dislike that name. It implies a rude and flippant sensibility at odds with genuine interest.)

In any case, I'm an author beginning a new venture into writing a Western Steampunk Romance. I've been doing a good deal of research into the genre and I have encountered an unusual roadblock. Traditional Victorian Steampunk abounds, but I am having a very difficult time finding anything about Western Steampunk other than Wild Wild West.

Surely that's not it?

I have League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (comic and film) Batman:Gotham by Gaslight and Steampunk:Manimatron (which did me no good at all -- too techno for my aim). I've ordered Gibson's The Difference Engine from the library, but I'd like to find some resources with more American flavor.

Part of the way I begin a project is to study the culture until it's almost second nature -- then the setting weaves itself into the writing more naturally than I could if I just plugged it in after the fact. But the trouble is that I get Victorian, but I don't get Western.

Any tips or hints from writers/readers?
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CinnamonAndSpite
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2007, 05:27:40 am »

It may be more tongue-in-cheek than you are looking for, but I'd highly reccomend "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." Its MARVELOUS.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105932/
« Last Edit: July 01, 2007, 05:30:59 am by CinnamonAndSpite » Logged
Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2007, 05:31:42 am »

Thank you Cinnamon. Tongue-in-cheek is just fine, since I typically write with a humorous bent. I just want to get the setting in my head.
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CinnamonAndSpite
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2007, 05:39:41 am »

Then Brisco will do nicely. Its a beautiful example of Weird West infused with real Steamy elements. Its got that whole, parallel History vibe, and its just honesty a wonderful show. I hope you enjoy it!!!
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CapnHarlock
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2007, 05:49:05 am »

I agree - Briscoe County, Jr. was an unappreciated jewel - a comic adventure (with some almost-slapstick moments)
MacGuyver meets (sanitized) Deadwood with JUST a touch of Army of Darkness Smiley
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Strange-Sara
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2007, 05:57:54 am »

Quote
In any case, I'm an author beginning a new venture into writing a Western Steampunk Romance. I've been doing a good deal of research into the genre and I have encountered an unusual roadblock. Traditional Victorian Steampunk abounds, but I am having a very difficult time finding anything about Western Steampunk other than Wild Wild West.

While its not exactly western, nor exactly steampunk, I think the show Firefly might be a good thing to "set the mood".  Also, its just an extraordinary show (which sadly ran but one season), and well worth watching on DVD.  Also, the companion movie Serenity (which should be watched AFTER watching the show).

ps-Briscoe County Jr: Oh my G-d!  I had forgotten that show!  It was great.
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2007, 07:16:31 am »

In an odd (and brilliant) way, the Firefly/Serenity is really a VERY good example of a Steampunk future - the main difference (imho) is only the extrapolation of 21st century "core"  tech vs 19th.  So what if silicon/unspecified FTL drive  is faster than miles of brass gears? - WT* -  that is just an implementation-detail - the Victorian/Western feeling is there
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2007, 03:12:29 pm »

I just watched Serenity last night for the umpteenth time! Love the movie, love the show, bought the box set. And I agree, it's very Western Steampunk in a lot of respects. Many of the societies with whom they interact are very Old West in feel.

With so many recommendations, I'll definitely have to look up Briscoe County, Jr.
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Emperor
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2007, 03:08:44 am »

Or Weird West, as I understand it from reading these forums.


Technically, a Steampunk western is part of the sci-fi western which is one of the sub-sections of the Weird West.

(Forgive my unasked opinion, especially since it's my first post, but I greatly dislike that name. It implies a rude and flippant sensibility at odds with genuine interest.)

In any case, I'm an author beginning a new venture into writing a Western Steampunk Romance. I've been doing a good deal of research into the genre and I have encountered an unusual roadblock. Traditional Victorian Steampunk abounds, but I am having a very difficult time finding anything about Western Steampunk other than Wild Wild West.

Surely that's not it?

I have League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (comic and film) Batman:Gotham by Gaslight and Steampunk:Manimatron (which did me no good at all -- too techno for my aim). I've ordered Gibson's The Difference Engine from the library, but I'd like to find some resources with more American flavor.

Part of the way I begin a project is to study the culture until it's almost second nature -- then the setting weaves itself into the writing more naturally than I could if I just plugged it in after the fact. But the trouble is that I get Victorian, but I don't get Western.

Any tips or hints from writers/readers?


I think you are on the right lines. With a Weird Western (or a lot of other cross-genre work) the setting is key. If you have a solid grasp of the setting then when you freak it up you can get the changes right and keep certain elements to make the setting still seem real. In some ways I suspect looking at the precedents can have the negative of narrowing your scope (as I said in the Weird West thread there are far too many undead westerns and people have to work hard to produce something different). However, with the Steampunk western there is a great variety material and quite a lot of that is coming from comics. A couple of examples:

Iron West - I can heartily recommend this wild while still being well drawn and written (there are bits that still make me chuckle even now - I'm sitting here grinning while typing this):
http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=7350

Daisy Kutter - not read it yet but it does look interesting:
http://www.boltcity.com/daisy.htm

There is also Transformers: Hearts of Steel but word is that it isn't great:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Transformers:_Evolutions

However, you are on the right lines and a Steampunk Western Romance sounds a great idea. Watch a tonne of westerns (something like Deadwood if you want to go for the harder grittier aspect) and check out some of the other odd westerns which often do the setting really nicely (on the comic front the big fat Jonah Hex volume and Desparadoes are both solid in their settings and that is part of their ongoing success. Also Mad Amos is great).

Hope that helps. If you have any other questions fire away.
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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2007, 12:42:42 am »

As for "weird west" literary I would also recommend "Zeppelins West" by  Joe R. Lansdale. Hard to find though, I had to go through alibris.com and get an old library copy. And I believe he has a sequel or two. It doesn't take itself at all seriously and is full of classic sci-fi/horror literature references and in-jokes.

In summary: The dis-embodied head of Buffalo Bill Cody is being kept alive inside a jar filled with a mixture of pig-urine and whiskey atop a steam-powered mechanical body. He's taken his famous wild west show on the road to Japan by means of a fleet of zeppelins. Notable personages who show up include Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickock, Sitting Bull, Doctor Moreau, Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Captain Nemo, Tik-Tok of Oz.

Hope this helps.
-James
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jaborwhalky
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2007, 01:22:32 pm »

One of the best Wierd West programs out there is "Legend" starring Richard Dean Anderson.  Not only does it have an amazing cast, but the wierd science is absolutely fantastic!

It's very upsetting that the show barely lasted one season and now can't be found anywhere.
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Honky-Tonk Dragon
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2007, 02:34:29 pm »

Try this site. Space Westerns
Pretty decent saloon for a space cowboy to kick their boots up and sit a spell.
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2007, 06:12:43 pm »

Thanks so much for all the new suggestions.

Honky-Tonk, that site is GENIUS!!! Love it!
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Honky-Tonk Dragon
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2007, 07:29:31 pm »

Happy to oblige, ma'am.
 Grin
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2007, 10:21:56 pm »

Thought you might be interested to know that I've just returned from the annual Romance Writers of America conference in Dallas where I pitched my Western Steampunk Romance -- and garnered three informal "send it to me when you're done" requests from TOR, Dorchester and Kensington. They're very interested in the concept of Steampunk!!
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The Little Legionnaire
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2007, 11:49:03 pm »

Don't know how much help it'll be but a few years back there was a steampunk game made for the Unreal Tournament Engine (I think), set in the Wild West.  Alas I never played it so can't really tell you much more, but it may be worth having a look at to try and get the ol creative juices flowing so to speak.
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2007, 09:28:03 am »

Hello,
   Re Weird Wild West. Try and get hold of a book called 'The Year The Cloud Fell.' It's by Kurt Giambastini. It's set in an alternate 1886 where George Custer is now President and didn't die at Little Big Horn. The US army has airships  and war is brewing between the Cheyenne and them.
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Enli
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2007, 09:43:37 am »

Thought you might be interested to know that I've just returned from the annual Romance Writers of America conference in Dallas where I pitched my Western Steampunk Romance -- and garnered three informal "send it to me when you're done" requests from TOR, Dorchester and Kensington. They're very interested in the concept of Steampunk!!

That's wonderful! You're blazing a trail (excuse the pun) for the rest of us.  Smiley 

I don't have anything to contribute, really, to this thread but I wanted to comment and empathize. I'm writing a western steampunk story as well, though it's not a romance.
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2007, 02:08:50 pm »

Thanks, Enli! I've begun writing it, but I'm keeping track of all these suggestions. Those requests are hugely motivating for me to keep going.
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Emperor
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« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2007, 12:52:52 am »

This is good news indeed.

Not just for you (although it is Wink ) but as proof that there is a market/hunger for this kind of thing out there. Should help stoke a few creative boilers Wink
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2007, 03:19:21 am »

Thank you, Emps! I know for a fact I'm one of at least five romance writers with some version of a Steampunk story, in various levels of publication. Emma Holly, a popular erotic romance writer, has a few Steampunkish stories out there -- the Demon World series -- although they're more alternate world Victoriana. So it's slowly creeping into genre fiction.

I was going to wait until school started for my children to really dive into writing this one, but since I've finished edits on everything else I had going, I decided not to wait and got a couple of hundred words down during their Tae Kwon Do class tonight!
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Mister .45
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« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2007, 03:45:58 pm »

If you can find or get access to the 3rd season of Batman: The Animated Series, you can see a 'historical flashback' episode with Jonah Hex battling Ras Al Ghul in the late 1800's.  A cannon-armed airship is involved.  Might make for some good inspirational fodder.
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The Infernal Mr Adams
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« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2007, 03:58:18 pm »

Weird West/Western Steampunk :love: one of my passions  Grin

Here's a thread that was done a few months ago that has great suggestions and links.
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2007, 04:50:32 pm »

Thanks for the tips, Mister .45 and Mr. Adams!

I'm getting a "monsterish" vibe off a lot of Weird West things. Lots of zombies/undead, etc. Is that true for a large portion of it? Because I'm not headed that direction. More Western with nifty gadgets and big bad robber baron/take over the world with my army of clockwork robots stuff.  Grin
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The Infernal Mr Adams
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« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2007, 05:10:43 pm »

I'm getting a "monsterish" vibe off a lot of Weird West things. Lots of zombies/undead, etc. Is that true for a large portion of it? Because I'm not headed that direction. More Western with nifty gadgets and big bad robber baron/take over the world with my army of clockwork robots stuff.  Grin

No no certainly not, the monsters and zombies are just what some of us are interested in Wink    However, I don't know where to point you for Weird Western Romance topics :/

I would suggesting using straight Steampunk as a base and then building on that and changing the location to the West.
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