Brickpunk and Steampunk

Naturally, on the day Anton Strout is doing a book signing, it starts to snow. And snow. And snow. It's going to be a "fun" ride into Chicago today. But, its a local book signing and I wanna see what happens, so I'm still planning on going at this point.

So, in other news: brickpunk. So, the first thing that any sane person would think is: WTF? Someone brought this up in the radio channel for Kingdom of Loathing and I got to thinking about it. Actually, I made up a little silly thing to explore the idea.

"Damn it, Gertrude, get number two furnace working again! I'm almost out of the Agatha Red on the second cannon!"

She screamed something back in response, but Eustace couldn't hear it as his hundred ton mecha slammed into the side of the quarry. A line of bricks shattered along the rough rock wall and he threw himself to the side, steam engines groaning under the weight of moving so much hardened clay to the side. He felt the entire mecha shudder as the baron's dark bricks, Morning Ash by his guess and from a quarry nearly a hundred miles away, crashed into his left shoulder. He groaned and wiped the sweat from his brow, yanking on one of the hundrds of handles that filled his cockpit. The coal furnace roared to life, drowning out his wife's swearing and giving him the energy to righten the mecha before it fell.

Falling meant death in this battle. Pulling up his left arm, he twisted the steam vent that pumped hot water and air down his arm, launching a single large brick the side of a man's head toward the baron's own black clay monstrosity. Aiming true, it smashed against the glass plate over the baron's head, but he couldn't afford any more shots as warning guages shot into the red, then the brighter red. He glanced at an indicator above his right shoulder. Still dark. Underneath it, Gertrude playfully wrote "Oh, Shit" under it when they installed it together. He smiled at the thought, then lurched the mecha forward. It pounded sluggishly along the bottom of the quarry, crushing rock into dust as he tried to find a better position. Along the upper ridge, the baron did the same, circling around as shattered stone chips poured from the edge.

Peering through his smoke-blurred visor, he saw the baron's mecha glowing brighter with every step. Frightened and nervous, he reached over and pulled out a folder. Flipping it open, he stared at the hastily drawn images of the baron's mecha.

"Gertrude, what happens when the baron starts glowing?"

She stopped swearing long enough to yell up the tiny ladder.

"Slag attack, chest cannon that blasts with superheated coal fire. You better damn well hope he isn't glowing."

"Um... he's glowing."

She went back to swearing. He thought furiously, mind spinning even as he yanked the mecha around to the only standing building at the base of the quarry. A blast of bricks, each one heavier than a horse, crashed into it, destroying his only shield for protection. He started to swear, then remembered the reverend told him not to. Instead, he bit his lip.

"Wait! Does that mean he'll lose his furnace."

"We're about to lose ours!"


He hated when his voice hit that high-pitched sound. His eyes rose up to the indicator. Thankfully it was off.

Then the "Oh, Shit" light flickered on.

"Oh, shit," he said. Damn the reverend.

"I'm burning up down here! Suggestions?"

"What's going?"

"Furnace one and three, maybe thirty more seconds!"

He thought furiously, feeling the seconds slipping away as the heat rose in the cockpit.

"Redirect everything to the right side, overcharge the Gatling!"

"Um, honey, we haven't tested that!"

"He's glowing brighter!"

He had to remind his wife, just in case she managed to forget in twenty seconds. She swore loudly but he could feel when his mecha slowed down, settling into place. Hundreds of tons of brick over steel, powered by three furnaces and frantically armed in the middle of the night. Only his right side still functioned as he brought up his arm, the hundreds of carefully laid bricks that lined the entire arm spinning as heat poured off them. Clay dust ignited into flame as he aimed it up to the edge of the quarry.

The baron's mecha had split open, a gaping wound in his gut with a boiling storm of superheated plasma and coal. As Eustace yanked on the lever, he felt his mecha jerk violently and a stream of bricks flew out to stitch a line up the side of the quarry.

One way or another, this fight was over.

So, I got to thinking about brickpunk. Yeah, this is a slightly longer version as the one I wrote in the chat, but what it got me thinking about is how I see Steampunk. One of the many people on my RSS feed said that steampunk is really about the stuff in the Victorian age. Steam and strange mechanics but the period is more important. Obviously, I ended up going with a different direction since I went with the idea of steam being the important part. In Wind, Bear, and Moon, that was actually the case. Steam engines, the magical runes that created heated for powering it, and the interaction of magic of the old world with the magic of the new one. The key part is: it isn't Victorian. The next rewrite will be adding more Victorian age elements, because I think they'll fit the story setting I'm aiming for. But, even if I add those elements, this story won't be really a Victorian age setting.

Is it still steampunk though? I think it is, but the idea of steam engines appeals to me. I love the older trains and the idea of complicated machines, mecha, and devices all based on being powered by steam really appeals to me. I like the idea of oil smoke and high rates of failure. I want to hear about cracked pipes and guages going well past red. For me, the story about the devices is more important than it being set in the Victorian age. I like fantasy just as much. I want dragons and magic in my stories, not because it is proper steampunk, but because it is what I really like. I love conflict and I love my Fedora setting because of the conflict between two ages of man. It probably means that Steampunk Magazine won't publish me, but I still think I write steampunk. Just not classical steampunk? Heh, it's interesting that I would consider this genre to be big enough for me to make a niche.

I'll still call it steampunk. I'll make a few changes that needed to be done. But, I don't think I'll ever write classical steampunk. I like my magic too much.

Oh, I found this picture today on Boing Boing. It is utterly amazing, and paper! Really impressive, even if you know what goes into it making a paper model like this. It is done by Jasper de Beijer who does some amazing work with paper.