Dracula and… Steampunk? What could these two things have in common other than the 19th Century? Hear me out. And for those of you who are wondering what the heck Steampunk is, here goes: it’s a blending of historical fiction with science fiction and the fantastical. Generally speaking, Steampunk is set in the 19th century era of steam power (hence the steam), but with a bit of alternate history or anachronism thrown in to give it an edge, like a steam-powered computer, cell-phone, airships, tanks, space-ship etc. (hence the punk). Jules Verne is the original Steampunk.
Since I’ve a background in Victorian literature and I write what we call ‘Gaslight Gothic’ fantasy/paranormal with my Strangely Beautiful series, and my upcoming Magic Most Foul series is also Victorian-set and fantasy/paranormal, my ‘Gaslight Gothic’ style has been embraced by Steampunk citizens and readers as under the general parasol of Steampunk, though my work tends to lack the gadgets inherent in the genre. I was asked to speak here today on your book pick (which happens to be one of my all-time favourite novels), about how Dracula might relate to this exciting, imaginative genre.
Broadly, those who love Steampunk love it for the Victorian-ness. Love it for the
manners, the restraint, the sexual tension, the fabulous clothing, the gaslight and the
misty, mysterious streets, the grit and the grandeur, the industry, ingenuity, the pride and
the troubling prejudice, the romanticism and sensuality, top-hats and fine lace amidst
crippling poverty and the burgeoning of social movements– maybe I’m just speaking
for me, but that’s why I love writing about the Victorian era in general. It’s full of rich
complexity, secrets, the cruelties of Colonialism and Imperialism, the dichotomies of
the roles of women, all wound up with a tightly corseted undercurrent of passion at its
core. If one loves 19th century fiction written by modern authors who dwell there, one
generally holds the literature of the time period dear as well; its own literature the best
history lesson of the time period. So thus, if one enjoys the flair of the 19th century,
they likely enjoy the direct products of it. And there’s no more intriguing product of the
Victorian age than Dracula.
Another delectable thing about Steampunk is the atmosphere and the richness of detail.
Good Steampunk novels are rich in atmosphere, in their setting, details, costuming and
gadgets so much so that these elements become like characters in the book itself. That’s
definitely true for Gothic fiction, and true for Dracula. Castle Dracula is a character
in and of itself; we all have an emotional reaction to that place, a distinct thought of
what that Castle is, looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like, exists like. I try and
do this in my Strangely Beautiful books too; to make Victorian London a foggy, ghost-
filled persona pressing dramatically onto the story itself. In historical fiction of any
kind, it’s all about the details. Because when you’re immersed in a classic novel like
Dracula, while sometimes presented in nearly a different language in its vernacular,
the sweeping imagery and rich settings are so compelling in their descriptions, they
translate to our modern minds like an exquisite film, refusing to let our mind’s eye go.
Steampunk is fantastical and often infused with the Paranormal, it is a genre that
encourages inspiration and innovation, and also can have a darker vein. Stoker too
challenged his society and his readers with tales of something otherworldly, fantastical,
out of its time and place. Count Dracula is his own, immortal, alternate history. Also
Steampunk often enjoys a narrative style that is self-conscious, aware of its reader. That’s certainly the case with Dracula, being in epistolary form of diary and letters. (Here’s where I get to excitedly say that my upcoming YA Victorian paranormals; the Magic Most Foul series- Nov, 2011- are done epistolary in homage to this, my most beloved of novels.)
So with all of this connective tissue, while Dracula doesn’t have brass goggles, airships
or clockwork hearts, it does have plenty of steam, Victoriana, atmosphere and the
fantastical. And it will remain one of my most beloved treasures, I hope it will remain
one of yours too.
Happy hauntings, and strangely beautiful blessings! I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to
Leanna Renee Hieber
For more about me and my books, please visit my sites:
For more about Steampunk check some of my favourite haunts:
Brass Goggles: http://brassgoggles.co.uk/blog/
Beyond Victoriana: http://beyondvictoriana.com/
*And now for the contest details! Leanna is giving away one copy of Strangely Beautiful book 1, THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER, and one copy of Strangely Beautiful book 2; THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER to 2 lucky commenters (U.S. only please). To be entered into the contest you must answer one of the following questions: What about the Victorian era attracts you the most? OR Why do you think steampunk is making such an impact on current fiction books?
Please leave your book preference in your comments!
*This contest will run until October 25th at midnight.
*contest open to US residents only
*must answer one of the contest questions
*please leave a contact email if one is not included in your profile