Monday, March 28, 2011

Steampunk and Publishing

Steampunk was a constant buzz at The Write Stuff, a writer's conference in Pennsylvania this past weekend. I'm on my way home from it now, a little worn out but definitely charged up. I attended pre-conference workshops by Donald Maass, author of Writing The Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction -- really great experiences for my own writing -- but every steampunk fan would have been thrilled by the excitement about the genre throughout the conference. It wasn't just from authors, either. The head of one publishing house wrote about how steampunk was her personal new passion and was working on several projects in the genre. A literary agent for one of the largest New York agencies commented on the surging interest in the genre shortly before adding, "Right now, if you have the best-written vampire novel the world has ever seen, you still probably won't get it published."

Back in the mid-1980s the Academy of Game Critics -- a much more laid-back collection of folks than their name suggested -- gave out satirical awards to new games, awards of a decidedly negative character. When Space: 1889 came out, they gave it the "Strontium 90 Award," for the game concept having the shortest half-life. Who would ever remember such an off-beat concept in twenty-five years?

Who indeed?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Steampunk Lives!

Welcome to the Space: 1889 blog. For those of you new to the subject, Space: 1889 was the original Victorian science fiction (steampunk) role-playing game, subtitled "Role-playing in a more civilized era." It's been around for about twenty-five years now, making it one of the original steampunk worlds -- probably the original fully-developed steampunk setting -- and has many devoted fans.

The last twelve months have been very exciting, with the release of Pinnacle Productions' Red Sands Space 1889 source book for their popular Savage Worlds role-playing system and the finalization of the agreement with Untreed Reads to release a series of Space: 1889 e-novels starting in the summer of 2011. Pinnacle did a great job with the art and background and I know Untreed Reads will do as well with their e-books. They have one old Space: 1889 hand overseeing the project, but more on that later.

I just had some fun last week at the Cold Wars game convention in Lancaster, PA, running Mars Needs Steam!, a miniatures battle game set on Mars in the Space: 1889 universe, complete with land dreadnoughts, Fenian rebels, angry Canal Martians, and a very dangerous steam-powered electric cannon. Those rules will probably be published by Test of Battle Games, but we don't have a tentative release date yet. Within a month or so I should have a miniatures license to announce as well, so stay tuned for more news.

Next time I'll talk about developments in the Space: 1889 world itself, making it an even richer environment.