With each anthology we release at Sirens Call Publications, we enjoy sharing the inspiration behind the stories contained within them. Our recent release, Bellows of the Bone Box is a combination of two fantastic genres – Steampunk and Horror. The authors have decided to share their inspirations of their story or talk about what Steampunk means to them. Today we feature what Steampunk means to Christofer Nigro, who contributed Rip Me A New One, Jack! to Bellows of the Bone Box…
Christofer Nigro is a life-long fan of the horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and pulp fiction genres, and has several websites on these topics, as well as others dealing in the interrelated realms of politics, sociology, and theology. He has short stories published in several anthologies dealing with the above genres, including three to date from Black Coat Press (TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN Volumes 8 & 9, and NIGHT OF THE NYCTALOPE); two to date from Sirens Call Publications (CARNAGE: AFTER THE END Volume 1 along with this anthology), as well as flash fiction in the October 2012 issue of The Sirens Call eZine; one to date from Scarlett River Press (RIGOROUS MORTIS: A MORTICIAN’S TALES); one to date from Pulp Empire (ALIENS AMONG US Volume 1); and one to date from Angelic Knights Press (NO PLACE LIKE HOME: TALES FROM A FRACTURED FUTURE). He is presently feverishly at work on a novel in the super-hero genre, CENTURION, which will be published by Metahuman Press. Christofer can be found online on Twitter at @ChristoferNigro, on his blog at thenorseking.wordpress.com. Christofer also maintains three websites at http://angelfire.com/ego/g_saga, http://angelfire.com/zine3/warrenverse, and http://monstaah.angelfire.com.
What Steampunk Means to Me
I have just recently become acquainted with the steampunk phenomenon, which appears to be a culturally specific movement and sense of aesthetics similar in influence to the Goths of a decade previous. However, steampunk has quite a different visual appeal than the Goth aesthetic, as it harkens back to the specific preferences of the mid-19th century. This includes an overriding fascination not only with the type of experimental technology that was developed during the Victorian era – based upon the power of steam and engineering theories surrounding pneumatic tubing – but also with the specific look and design of that technology. The 19th century aesthetic for the rapidly developing machinery that led to the full realization of the Industrial Revolution had a great interest in how the technology worked, not simply contentedness with the fact that it worked. Machinery of all kinds were developed with their interior design visible so that owners and users could actually see the mechanisms that allowed that technology to operate as it did. This included a plethora of turning cogs and moving parts, which the 19th century eye found amazing to look at. The dominant lack of interest in how the inner workings of an SUV, a computer, a cell phone, or a Blu-ray player operate or look like that is prevalent with the average consumer of today is a far cry from the aesthetic appeal of Victorian technology to the dominant mindset of that era’s people.
Just as the purveyors of the Goth movement favored black garments and sometimes colorful make-up, the steampunkers (if that’s not a word, it should be) are fond of leather attire and aviation goggles. These were seen as necessary accoutrements for the 19th century technological pioneers, since a paramount interest of that time was the conquest of the sky. Dirigibles – or “airships” as they were then known – were believed to be the wave of the future, and experiments along those lines abounded, as did their more successful (and often more ominous) fictional counterparts in the emerging sci-fi genre of the era. Likely the best examples for this were the work of Jules Verne, particularly his connected novels Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World. Many scientific beliefs proliferated during that time which have since been discarded from mainstream scientific consideration, such as the idea of a fluidic but mostly invisible substance called “ether” permeating the atmosphere and serving as a potential fuel source for air travel. Another heavy influence on my story was the steampunk novel The Difference Engine by William Gibson.
I was also influenced by much Victorian literature in general, and I often wondered what the criminal, political, economic, and religious scenes would be like across the world of the late 19th century, but especially in London amidst a heavily “steampunked” reality. My story attempts to explore how this plethora of advanced technology would have made all of these major societal aspects differ from the reality recorded in our history books.
Basically, that is what steampunk is to me: An in-depth exploration of a world that might have been, and what it may have meant for the world if it happened. It also means a full exploration of an era-specific aesthetic that has found a curious and major resurgence in a much different world, and the continuation of the legacy it established in both literature and pop culture.
The Steampunk and Horror genres are masterfully combined in the twelve stories contained within Bellows of the Bone Box. Each of the authors has transported you to an age where steam is the dominate means of power and has woven a tale that will fascinate, or possibly scandalize you.
In this volume, you will find clockworks, pneumatic tubes, airships, and leather worn out of necessity – not vanity. Can an engine be powered by human blood; should it be? What about body modification; what happens when the mechanical meets the biological and goes awry? Does the heart rule the machine, or does the machine consume the humanity that once existed within it? What of airships, regeneration, or hallucination; is it safe to trifle with such things? Should technology that can rift time and dimensions be researched; and if that research proves fruitful, should it ever see the light of day?
Packed full of intrigue, imagination, and horror, lovers of Steampunk will have a hard time deciding which of the twelve is their favorite!
Featuring the talents of:
Brad Bass, Paul Boulet, Laura Brown, Vivian Caethe, Alex Chase, Megan Dorei, O.M. Grey, Tarl Hoch, Gavin Ireland, Kirk Jones, Kate Monroe and Christofer Nigro
Here is a snippet of Christofer’s Rip Me A New One, Jack! from Bellows of the Bone Box –
Inspector Clive Aberline wasn’t exactly happy with the fact that Scotland Yard insisted he call in the services of freelance sleuth Andre Dupin to deal with the case at hand, but his superiors insisted that the nightmarishly grim circumstances made it imperative. Aberline had to accept the fact that catching the lunatic responsible for the ghastly series of murders plaguing the Whitechapel area of New London was of paramount importance, and as such, matters of pride and intolerance had to be put aside for the greater good. This great city of London, filled with tall spires and hovering dirigibles that decorated the skyline, had few members of ‘polite’ society who cared about the fate of the ‘ladies of the night’, which made it all the more important that those who did care put every effort into catching the nefarious Ripper.
Aberline looked down at the butchered remains of a middle-aged working lady strewn across the width of a small alley. Despite all he had dealt with in his 22 years in service to the law, he had to force himself not to visibly cringe in the presence of Andre Dupin, a man whose help he desperately needed despite loathing the mere thought of his existence. He must tolerate the man for the good of the victims, he kept reminding himself.
Dupin walked up to where Aberline was standing, laid a hand on his shoulder, and looked down at the gruesome remains before them.
“It would appear that ghastly fellow literally ripped this poor toffer a new one, eh?” the younger detective flippantly observed.
Aberline smacked the man’s hand off his shoulder, and shoved him hard. “I am not amused by what passes for a sense of levity from you, Dupin. Show some respect to this woman, considering the trials she doubtlessly endured in her line of work, and particularly the nightmare her final moments on this world must have constituted.”
“Don’t be so grim, old crusher. Your decades with the Yard seem to have made you cynical in your advancing age. Do not let my glib remarks cause you to doubt the sincerity of my intentions, nor mistake my way of dealing with the horrors we experience in our esteemed vocations as disrespect for the victims of this madman.”
“Maybe I don’t like your way of handling these horrors, Dupin. If not for your distinguished reputation and lineage in the solving of crimes, I would not abide your presence in my midst for even a second. Unless you have missed what is regularly said about you and your social antics on the Inter-Analytic Webstream, you would see that many are inclined to agree with my assessment of your character.”
“You need to put less veracity on what those mindless wankers on the Inter-Analytic Webstream tend to say, old chap. Their comments are nothing less than a cesspool of invective about any given subject, or any particular individual…
Come back tomorrow for another engaging post from one of the authors in Bellows of the Bone Box!