There is no love lost between me and the steampunk genre (I think it can be easily defined as a genre nowadays, as it has grown constantly over the past several years). I am afraid that I never have been considerably touched by steampunk, we intersected our paths on occasion, but I must admit that only rarely the steampunk literature hold my interest long enough. I am not as reluctant towards it as I am when it comes to zombie fiction for example, another sub-genre taking a life of its own but beaten more and more into a shapeless and featureless lump recently. I do have a seed that can be caressed in sprouting buds with steampunk, not many but I still cannot deny it. After all, one of my fondest childhood memories is that of my grandfather taking me on his bicycle to the railway lines and seeing trains passing by, our habit leading to an interest for old trains and locomotives. I will always cherish Jules Verne’s works and back when I played a lot of computer games two of those I played with great frenzy were Syberia and Syberia II, developed by Microïds, both full of mechanical things and automatons. So, there is something there to bring more interest from my part for the steampunk genre, but somehow it never buried its roots deep. However, like the zombie fiction I have already mentioned I do have some favorite stories within steampunk, even more of them than those of the former, perhaps a novel or two, but more of them coming in the shorter form. As I try as much as it’s in my power to not be confined in a reading personal comfort zone I am not the one to entirely discard steampunk fiction. Even more so when such genre stories are coming from different areas of the world, the more the better. As it was the case with a Romanian anthology dedicated to the steampunk genre, “Steampunk: The Second Revolution” edited by Adrian Crăciun (in which Michael Haulică’s “The Story of Calistrat Hadîmbu, Meanly Murdered by Nuncle Raul Colentina in an Inn on Bucharest Outskirts” stands out), or another such collection going far and wide across the Earth, “Steampunk World” edited by Jay Lake and Ken Liu. Regarding this genre it is its going outside England and the United States that holds such appeal to me, not because I don’t like those places, on the contrary, I love them, but because the historical industrialization era in those lands came on the expanse of other less fortunate countries and it is here where I can find the point of steampunk fiction only orbiting me without changing its trajectory to a point of impact. I believe it is because of such personal consideration that makes this genre not to be among my high reading priorities and yet it doesn’t let me throwing it entirely to the bin. And it is due to the same personal consideration that one of the steampunk titles coming this year can be found on my 2015 reading list, even close to the top of that list. Ediciones Nevsky plans the release of a steampunk anthology gathering some of the best voices of Spanish speculative fiction with stories that expand the borders of the genre.
“The Best of Spanish Steampunk” edited and translated by Marian and James Womack follows the steps of two anthologies already released by Ediciones Nevsky, both in Spanish, “Steampunk. Antología Retrofuturista” edited by Felix J. Palma and “Retrofuturismos. Antología Steampunk” edited by Marian Womack, but this time the editors hope to bring more awareness for the Spanish speculative fiction, to bring Spain’s steampunk to a wider market and audience. As much as I am concerned steampunk is alive and well in Spain, besides the two anthologies previously mentioned I am aware of a few others published in Spanish, for instance “Ácronos. Antología Steampunk” published in two volumes by Tyrannosaurus Books or “Fuenlabrada Steampunk”, a wonderful volume released by Kelonia Editorial which offered a chance for 12 young Spanish writers to prove their talent within this genre. Speaking of “Fuenlabrada Steampunk” there are other signs of the liveliness of the genre in Spain, this anthology was born as a contest of stories and illustrations held during the Fuenlabrada Fantastic Festival, dedicated last year to steampunk, a convention going hand in hand with another, similar convention, but devoted entirely to steampunk, EuroSteamCon, with already three editions taking place between 2012 and today in Barcelona, Bilbao, Mairena del Alcor, Madrid, Mallorca, Orense, Sevilla and Zaragoza, but also spanning across Europe in the past three years with conventions held in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. Without digressing further from the point of “The Best of Spanish Steampunk” though, this anthology edited and translated by Marian and James Womack brings into English what Spain has best to offer in terms of steampunk. Not only that, but as I love to travel far and wide across the world, more easily achieved through imagination and fiction, “The Best of Spanish Steampunk” does just that, the collection featuring stories from Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Chile, but also Spanish writers who currently live in Germany, Dubai and the UK. My passion for travelling is equally matched by my love for visiting places without the restrains raised by time, space or limits of dreams and “The Best of Spanish Steampunk” does that too. The North-American-Spanish Cuban war, the Mexican war, the Anarchists revolts in the 1930s Andalusia together with settings such as Asturias, Catalonia, Andalusia or the times of the Imperial reign of Felipe II are all part of Marian and James Womack’s anthology. So, can I ask for more? I think I could not and no matter what my thoughts of steampunk are in general, “The Best of Spanish Steampunk” is a welcomed reading for me. True, for the time being the anthology is scheduled to be released in epub format only, but I can only hope that this is the first step and such a promising volume would see the light of print in physical format as well. And why not more, this to be one of the first themed anthologies that offers us the chance to explore Spain and the entire world through speculative fiction as meticulously as possible.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRODUCING SPANISH STEAMPUNK
“Introduction” by Diana Pho
“Editor’s Note” by Marian Womack
“The Princess From the Centre of the Earth” by Félix J. Palma - Gaslight romance/exploration, this tale ties into the universe of Palma’s New York Times Bestselling VictorianTrilogy (The Map of Time, The Map of the Sky, & forthcoming The Map of Chaos), unarguably the most successful Steampunk work originally written in Spanish
ON POLITICS: FREEDOM, SOCIAL AWARENESS, INEQUALITY, “THE WOMAN QUESTION”
“Icarus” by Jorge Jaramillo - Allegorical steam-tale of a young man’s obsession with flight and its consequences.
“The Shepherd” by Cristina Jurado - Steam-futuristic tale: in a dystopian society one individual rebels against the system.
“Saturn’s Children” by Sergio Lifante - Steam-retelling of one of Barcelona’s darker crimes, the child killings in the early XXth century.
“Prey’s Moon” by Joseph Remesar - A Steam-London ravaged by poverty, an unknown beast seeks to avenge the poorest members of society.
“Mad” by Santi Pagés - Steam-feminist tale, imagining a Spanish suffragist movement.
“Priceless” by Cano Farragute - Feminist-gaslight romance. A feisty tale of female piracy, and the fight against female inequality.
ON CONFLICT: WAR, ALTERNATIVE HISTORY
“May the Fifth” by Paulo César Ramírez - Steam-retelling of the Mexican battle of 1862.
“Shots to the Gut” by Jesús Cañadas - Steam-retelling of the Anarchist Revolt in Casas Viejas (Andalusia) in the 1930s.
“Flesh Against Metal” by Rafael Marín - Steam-retelling of the American-Spanish war for Cuba.
“Board Them” by Javi Argauz & Isabel Hierro - The boarding of an airship causes the outbreak of Steam World War.
“The Hands That Built America” by Francisco Miguel Espinosa & Ángel Luis Sucasas - Steam-retelling of the American Civil War.
“Speed” by José María Merino - Allegory of the risks of progress: motorcycles become the target of ruthless attacks.
ON TECHNOLOGY: SCIENCE & MACHINES, SPAIN & THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
“Hating Lester Murray” by Laura Fernández - Steam-humor tale. A very talkative airship with aspirations to write, annoys its successive owners.
“Dynevor Road” by Luis Manuel Ruiz - A dark tale of how playing with our memories affects our identity.
“The Guts of a Clock” by Luis Guallar - Steam-horror tale, set in a clock-like building with maze-like shape.
“Surprends le Monde” by Ismael Manzanares - Steam-adventures and romance in the context of an alternative Paris Universal Exhibition.
“The Blue of the Sky” by Pedro Moscatel - An imagined future after the Steam-Revolution, highlighting the ecological damage it has produced.
“The Stranger” by Leonardo Ropero - Steam-ghost story, revisiting one of the sites of the Spanish Industrial Revolution, Asturias.
“The Lady of the Soler Colony” by Rocío Rincón - Steam-tale revisiting the ‘Colonies’, Catalan factory cities during the Industrial Revolution.
ON MECHANICAL MEN: AUTOMATA & CYBERNETICS
“Music Box” by Paula Rivera - Steam-tale about Köpte, a child automaton, and its fight against a mysterious Steam disease.
“Berlin Mechanical Men” by Noemí Sabugal - Hardboiled noir Steam-tale. A detective investigates the killing of several automata.
“The Mechanical Flower” by Josué Ramos - A young man’s heart-machine stops working after a break-up. A romance with language.
“Don’t Forget to Wind It Up” by Santiago Eximeno - A couple’s daily ordeal to keep their child alive, tied to the requirements of a Steam-machine.
“Come to My Arms” by Gloria T. Dauden - Steam-erotic tale. A mechanical arm brings a woman only unhappiness.
ON TIME & PERCEPTION: TIME TRAVEL, TIME CONTROL, MESMERISM & DIVINATION
“Biocronography: Aub’s Theorem” by Guillermo Zapata - Steam-retelling of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, featuring Dalí, Buñuel and Lorca.
“All That Never Existed” by Oscar Navas - Dark Steam-tale on the dangers to health posed by time-travel.
“Dead Time” by José Ángel Menédez Lucas - Clock-fantasy on the domination of time.
“Professor Pinetti’s Divination” by Oscar Mariscal - An illusionist, his three divination balls, and his unwilling solution of a crime.
“Instrumental Transcomunication” by Francisco J. Pérez - A meeting between a medium and a phantasmagoric child, in a Steam approximation to the weird genre.
“In a Glass, Darkly” by Marian Womack - A Circus with Lola Montes, Siberian tigers and blue monkeys; a young man and his visions of the woman he loves.
ON METALITERATURE: STEAMPUNK & OUR CULTURAL MYTHS
“The Cyclotech of Bubblelon” by Sofía Rhei - Steam-retelling of Oscar Wilde’s fairy-tales, with an ecological message.
“Hatter’s Rust” by Alfredo Álamo - Steam-retelling of the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
“The One-Armed Man” by Rocío Tizón - Steam-detective story, inspired by the Ripper murders in London.
“Giants” by Rubén Sánchez Trigos - Steam-reimagining of the world of Georges Méliès, featuring a steam-propelled fairground.
“Masked Justice” by Rafael González - Steam-fantasy on Alistair Crowley, Stonehenge and a very peculiar kind of vampire.
“Black Eagles” by Eduardo Vaquerizo - A tale set within the universe of Vaquerizo’s original take on an alternative Spanish Empire, built after the imagined early death of Felipe II, and which extends into the XXth century.
“London’s Rivers” by Javier Calvo - An early example of Spanish pseudo-proto Steampunk, written preceding the arrival of the genre in Spain, a curious retelling of Mary Poppins, in the context of a detective investigation fuelled by the London fog.