The Crossroads of the Aether
"For even the finest writer of horror or SF or detective fiction, the bookstore, to paraphrase the LA funk band War, is a ghetto. From time to time some writer, through a canny shift in subject matter or focus, or through the coming to literary power of his or her lifelong fans, or through sheer, undeniable literary chops, manages to break out. New, subtler covers are placed on these writers' books, with elegant serif typefaces. In the public libraries, the little blue circle with the rocket ship or the magnifying glass is withheld from the spine. This book, the argument goes, has been wifely praised by mainstream critics, adopted for discussion by book clubs, chosen by the Today show. Hence it cannot be science fiction." -- Michael Chabon, p. 21 "Trickster in a Suit of Lights: Thoughts on the modern short story" from Maps and Legends.
They howled at the great big moon. They danced on the beach. They made love to each other. They drank spoiled fruit juice. They had a big time. Of course, the next morning they were mighty sick, two of the creatures had bleeding a****, and the Lion Man, high on fruit juice, had eaten one of the goats. (137-38)I'm sure there are some who would exclude Zeppelins West from steampunk on the basis of how crude it is, forgetting that "gonzo" is part of what gave steampunk some "punk." The writers were far more playful, far less serious than some of our current steampunk writers. Lansdale isn't interested in history so much as histrionics, and the result is far more interesting than other books with zeppelins on the cover, such as George Mann's The Affinity Bridge. While I decried Jonathan Green's writing chops, I can still applaud how over-the-top his story ideas are. I think a lot of recent steampunk is trying too hard to explain the goggles and the airships. This isn't hard SF. As evidenced by my "technofantasy" label, steampunk doesn't often explain itself. Lansdale doesn't spend any time explaining why the Frankenstein monster or the Tin Man can be alive. They're both automatons of sorts, and in Lansdale's mind, that adds up to a good reason to get them in bed together.