Although it features only briefly in the Infinity Bridge, the genre of Steampunk is a major aspect of the book and what I plan for the cover. One of the wonderful things about the sub-genre is the very stylish imagery associated with it. However, I do realise that not everyone has heard of steampunk, so here is a beginners guide...
The first author to coin the phrase was KW Jeter, an American sci-fi author, who wrote a novel Infernal Devices. The book is a sci-fi/ fantasy story set in Victorian times, in which a watchmaker becomes embroiled in a bizarre story involving simulacrums, secret societies and insane inventions. The style was designed to emulate the language of the Victorian writers, like HG Wells and Dickens.
Although Jeter coined the phrase, a number of books preceded his as examples of the genre, and many have developed it since then. One of the first was Michael Moorcock, famous for his Elric books, who wrote a trilogy in the early Seventies called the Nomad of the Time Streams. This was a series about alternate realities, and an Edwardian protagonist, Oswald Bastable. The books featured airships, and steam powered machines, and a persisting British Empire. Harry Harrison, of Stainless Steel Rat and Deathworld fame, wrote A Trans-atlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! replete with steam-powered floating boats and submarines. Tim Powers, Anubis Gates, was a great Victorian time-travel fantasy which is one of the best books I’ve ever read; and Bryan Talbot’s seminal comic series, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, has steam-punk style all over it.
In 1990, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling published The Difference Engine, in which a steam-powered computer is developed thrusting Victorian era into a premature modern age. This book was very popular, and the genre really began gaining credence at this stage.
What captured the imagination is the way that Steampunk moved beyond just literature. There is a definite element of style to it: the souped up Victorian costumes; the brass fittings on everything; the clockwork; the air-ships and the steam-powered vehicles. There’s a great line in art with the genre: I especially love the Steampunk-ing of sci-fi staples such as the Star Wars characters, or Marvel superheroes like Iron Man. Its even filtered into the mainstream cinema, with Hugo released recently as an example. On my local supermarket shelves is Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince series, so its seems steampunk now has mass appeal!
The chapters of the Infinity Bridge set in an alternate Victorian era were great fun to write and will feature more prominently in the next books in the series. And I make no apology if all the covers are packed with airships, clockwork robots, chaps in top hats and ladies in corsets!