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Steampunk submissions invited

February 10, 2010 | 12:20 pm

The editors of a major 2008 steampunk anthology are putting together its sequel, "Steampunk Reloaded." There are still a few days left to polish, oil and calibrate your steampunk stories for submission.

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's "Steampunk," a 400-page omnibus, included pieces by Michaels Moorcock and Chabon, Neal Stephenson, Paul Di Filippo and many others. Reviewing the book in his column The Siren's Call, Nick Owchar wrote:

The anthology offers three essays establishing the context of the steampunk genre, before moving into the stories and excerpts. Jess Nevins' essay lays out the origins of steampunk and the writers whose work has defined it -- among them, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (co-authors of "The Difference Engine") -- along with the 19th and early 20th century writers who anticipated it: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edward S. Ellis, Harry Enton and Garrett Serviss, to name just a few. Rick Klaw's survey, "The Steam-Driven Time Machine," points readers to sites to help them comprehend this expansive genre that, as Steampunk Magazine says sternly, is "more than a sub-category of fiction." Bill Baker's essay lists and describes the genre's influence in comic books and graphic novels...

The stories in "Steampunk" are about the romance of technology: They present a picture of formidable but fragile machines whose wires and clockwork innards are exposed for all to see. In Ted Chiang's "Seventy-Two Letters," for instance, scientists create human life by imprinting names on unfertilized ova, recalling a rabbi's insertion of a scroll containing God's name into the mouth of a golem. Chiang's story crosses microbiology with the Kabbalah and uses improbably crude instruments: A long glass needle "could be clamped into the brass framework with its tip approaching the slide beneath the microscope; the knurled wheels presumably were used to bring the needle into contact with an ovum."

That got your wheels knurling? Start your steam-driven engines: Submissions for "Steampunk Reloaded" are due Monday, Feb. 15.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A 19th-century bed in the Dennis Severs House in London. Credit: Dennis Severs House