Note: Cross-posted with permission from Yakoub Islam from his website The Muslim Age of Steam on The Steampunk Shariah.
Middle Eastern Astrolobe. 1291.
In Summer 2009, I made the bold decision to write a full-length novel. It seemed like the perfect solution to a troubled and difficult decade, which had largely centred around caring for my autistic son: a return to an old passion – creative writing; a therapeutic outlet following a period of mental and physical illness; and perhaps a means of drawing together the various intellectual and spiritual threads that have informed my faith and eclectic reading over the last 20-odd years. I began by exploring the imaginative possibilities surrounding the first recorded Muslim visit to England, allegedly made by the twelfth century geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi. A small cast of characters was assembled, along with possible subplots, themes and a couple of draft chapters. Yet after twelve months of research and writing, the various elements of my intended novel remained disparate, and I almost gave it up.
I wondered whether the problem wasn’t down to a contradiction that I’m sure many writers have experienced – between creative and publishing ambitions. I wanted to write a one of a kind book, but who would want to read it?
Note: I wrote a bit here about Vietnamese steampunk, but when Tor.com asked me to write for their Steampunk Fortnight, I offered a more personal take on how my life has influenced my steampunk, and vice versa.
“You wear this so well! I can’t believe this fits you,” my mother exclaims. “I must’ve been really skinny.”
I’m ten years old and I don’t think to wonder whether she meant I was a fat kid (because all of her children have grown up “so big and tall” in America) or question why my mom was that thin when she married. I’m just admiring my outfit in the mirror. It didn’t fit as perfectly as she said; the dress panels of the ao dai nearly touched the floor, and the sleeves ran a bit past my wrists. But it was still the prettiest thing I had ever worn in my young life.
Read on Tor.com: A story in which the clothes make the steampunk as much as the steampunk makes the clothes.
Note from Ay-leen: I got in touch with Michael Redturtle—a steampunk enthusiast from the Southern US—a few months back and we’ve chatted about how steampunk can become integrated with someone’s personal and cultural identity. He offered to pen a few thoughts about his Native ancestry, the journey he took to discover it, and what that has to do with how he steampunks.
Michael RedTurtle Dancing at a Pow Wow
Since you’re reading this, you’re aware that there are many of us who prefer to look at steampunk from the viewpoint of outside neo-Victoriana. I was asked by Ay-leen to talk about my preference: that being Native American steampunk.
My name is Michael Redturtle. This is not the name of my “character/persona/whatever”; it is my actual name (some of you may know me on LiveJournal and other similar sites as Lucv_Cate, or LocaCate: which is Redturtle in two different Mvskoke dialects). I know one question that you probably have is: “is that your ‘real name’?” Well, it depends on what you call a “real name.”