Interview #104 – Author Scott Wilke - This week we are talking with Scott Wilke, author of The Legend of Everett Forge. Airship Ambassador: Hi Scott, welcome to the airship! Scott Wilke: Than...
16 hours ago
"I sometimes wonder if my family's cibiscosis was karmic retribution for all those cheshires."As I've said, the artificial human is a trope of SF, not steampunk per se. But in reading The Windup Girl, Ted Chiang's "72 Letters" and Sedia's The Alchemy of Stone, I'm suspicious that steampunk deals with the artificial human in a way that is somewhat different from other types of SF. Not a conclusive statement by any stretch, and I welcome any thoughts on the matter.
"It couldn't be. They're not natural."
Somchai shrugs. "They breed. They eat. They live. They breathe." He smiles slightly. "If you pet them, they will purr."
Jaidee makes a face of disgust.
"It's true. I have touched them. They are real. As much as you or I."
"They're just empty vessels. No soul fills them."
Somchai shrugs. "Maybe even the worst monstrosities of the Japanese live in some way. I worry that Noi and Chart and Malee and Prem have been reborn in windup bodies. Not all of us are good enough to become Contraction phii. Maybe some of us become windups, in Japanese factories, working working working,you know? We're so few in comparison to the past, where did all the sould go? Maybe to the Japanese? Maybe into windups." (173-74)
"Half a moustache suited Lord Kraven perfectly. It had, nevertheless, been a close-shave--Prince Spada's blade having nearly run him through the throat.This was one of my Christmas holiday reads, and the rollicking pace of the first part kept a smile on my face as Kraven and his companions effortlessly engaged in hyperbolic exploits: "Lord Greystoke had just returned from a difficult mission in which he had made contact with a giant gorilla on an island near Sumatra. His body was covered in bandages" (17). But while the book maintains a gleefully ironic tone, it isn't meant to be taken lightly. Before long, the heroes begin to question the ease with which they always win, but must also continue the battle. Unlike Green, Mauméjean's heroes are more self-aware, and wonder at the simplicity of their steampunk world:
The foremost hero of Albion fixed his tie, looked at himself in the mirror one last time and proceeded to shoot his attacker in the head. The bullet...continued through the wall, ricocheted against the Tower's metal frame and went on to kill Ambrosio Terracota, the Prince's henchman, splattering his brains across the floor." (9)
"Yes, of course, I always forget that we are the good guys," he said with irony. "Always ready to defeat a new threat, to foil a new convoluted plot, to stop a new would-be world conqueror. But it all sounds very hollow right now. Consider our foes...They always tell us their plans in great details after they capture us, they always make a last minute mistake which enables us to escape and defeat them... Yes, we win, but only until the next time, for they always return..." (65)Like Boilerplate, the League makes commentary on past social injustices, such as Bloody Friday in May of 1919 (which takes place in May of 1916 in the League's alternate history), the event catalyzing English Bob's departure from the League of Heroes. Finally, the only one left is Lord Kraven, and when he initiates a more global iteration of the League, is killed in an airship explosion.