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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Steamsmith"
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 2nd, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>>LOL, I read it to him as soon as you sent the preview.
He's not really into steampunk illustration *but* he'll definitely paint a portrait of Maryam for me (and I'll pass it on, of course). <<

*happydance* I look forward to seeing that. I really admire his art.

>>She's been in my mind for a while and 'Maryam' is my user name on a steampunk site I occasionally visit.<<

That is so cool. Also, if you're familiar with steampunk, you can help me get a handle on this genre. It's something I've read on occasion, but very rarely written.

>>You gave me a start with her hairdo,I hadn't put it in the prompt but that's exactly how I visualize it.<<

Yay! I think the hairdo is a riff off of some traditional African ones that involve metal rings or other doodads. You still see it over here with things like beads on the ends of braids.

Maryam is loud for a character. I think her life has made her assertive and it just carries over. Most of my characters don't 'notice' me or interact with me directly, though there are always a few who do. She swept into my office and dumped an armload of stuff all over my desk; that's how I got most of the alchemical science/technology, enough to know where to look up the remainder. So I'm not surprised that she's perceptible to both of us independently. I've had this sort of thing happen to me before, enough times that I just acknowledge I'm usually writing things down rather than making things up.

Also, I'm really pleased to have a black female lead, who is a sort of scientist-mechanic, and a new genre to play with. Hee! I need to see if I can figure out a way to render my little pencil-sketch of the steamsmith pin in a way that could be shared online. It just begs to be made into jewelry, or at least printed on a button. And I am so going to look for metal embellishments at the scrapbooking store -- I did that once for "Artifacts of Intelligent Design."
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 2nd, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Seriously: I have a friend who does buttons and has a source for jewelry. I'll point him at this and ask if he could come up with something for the guild pin.

Fair warning: It would not be free, since he makes his living doing that sort of thing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 2nd, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>>Seriously: I have a friend who does buttons and has a source for jewelry. I'll point him at this and ask if he could come up with something for the guild pin. <<

That's a thought. It's an eye-catching design that might well appeal to more steampunk fans than just my own.

>>Fair warning: It would not be free, since he makes his living doing that sort of thing.<<

I could probably come up with the $1-2 typical for a button. Custom jewelry is likely to be outside my foreseeable price range, alas. I know enough about jewelry design to know that what I described and drew is perfectly feasible, but not exactly cheap even if done in steel and brass rather than silver and gold.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Pin

I'm getting into steampunk as a fashion style (love the 'handmade' approach) and I'm definitely interested, I bet members of the steamfashion community would be too.

Or...Wouldn't it be cool if the pin ended up linked to Maryam and other PoCs, promoting chromatic steampunk? How could it be done?
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>Maryam is loud for a character.<

She definitely is, 'assertive' is the right word for her. And she might just have made another 'victim'.

Over dinner I was chatting with hubby about the poem and that third verse and, out of the blue, with a twinkle in his eye he commented 'it's inspiring' (note: he has said long and loud that he likes steampuk to look at but is not his genre to paint and he had been busy as a beaver for months with industry work).
When I told he that he had just committed himself he laughed in a definite 'I knew it' way. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2011 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>> She definitely is, 'assertive' is the right word for her. <<

Sooth. I am further reminded of a distinction that I make: If you can back it up, it's confidence. If you can't, it's arrogance.

>> And she might just have made another 'victim'. <<

Hee! Maryam is as sticky as the tar baby.

>> Over dinner I was chatting with hubby about the poem and that third verse and, out of the blue, with a twinkle in his eye he commented 'it's inspiring' (note: he has said long and loud that he likes steampuk to look at but is not his genre to paint and he had been busy as a beaver for months with industry work).
When I told he that he had just committed himself he laughed in a definite 'I knew it' way. :) <<

Yay! That's so exciting. I can sympathize -- I haven't been much into steampunk, but oh, I like this version.

I'll try and remember to share what I discover, puttering around. So far I'm realizing that this London doesn't look the same as the usual steampunk, which tends to be smoky and dark and gritty with a gleam of metal. This has its grungy parts, I'm sure, but much of it seems to be a softly glowing London of fog and gaslight, metal and glass. They're actually replacing a lot of early industrial stuff with cleaner options as they learn more about steamwork. So the gaslamps, when switched over to phos, aren't exactly burning anything. (Maryam thinks that burning things is filthy, and she kind of has a point there.) The science shapes not just the culture, but the aesthetics.

I'm betting their cameras work by somehow crystallizing phos into solid form.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 4th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

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<<So far I'm realizing that this London doesn't look the same as the usual steampunk, which tends to be smoky and dark and gritty with a gleam of metal. This has its grungy parts, I'm sure, but much of it seems to be a softly glowing London of fog and gaslight, metal and glass. They're actually replacing a lot of early industrial stuff with cleaner options as they learn more about steamwork. So the gaslamps, when switched over to phos, aren't exactly burning anything. (Maryam thinks that burning things is filthy, and she kind of has a point there.) The science shapes not just the culture, but the aesthetics.

I'm betting their cameras work by somehow crystallizing phos into solid form.>>

Developing the science here could be really fascinating, a clean industrial revolutionhas great implications for the future of the world, and at the same time it doesn't take away from the 'real' grittyness that would be the impact of a relatively new technology on people, and the possibility of social commentary 'Maryam-style' on social issues.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>>Developing the science here could be really fascinating,<<

I think so, yes. It's so different. A lot of steampunk has a strong fantasy element. This is solidly science, just ... some of it is the kind that resembles magic until examined closely.

>> a clean industrial revolution has great implications for the future of the world, <<

Yes. From what I can tell so far: The nobles and the wealthy have as much of the new technology as they choose to adopt. (Not everyone likes it.) The middle class is just starting to get the innovations, often secondhand or as a perk of service. The lower class still makes do with mostly older options. But there's an increasing push to make some things generally available, precisely because they are cleaner and better for society at large. That point is fought mainly by enlightening people's self-interest.

The new technology mostly does seem cleaner than earlier options. Of course, some of it is dangerous or at least volatile, but then coal dust can explode too and it's filthy. The ground-engines may well be grungy places to work. Things that run on water power are apt to be wet. But a lot of the gear runs on fire and/or air types of energy, and thus less messy.

>> and at the same time it doesn't take away from the 'real' grittyness that would be the impact of a relatively new technology on people, and the possibility of social commentary 'Maryam-style' on social issues.<<

Right. I think much of the conflict comes as people are realizing more about how the world actually works, and it's not always what they thought it would be. So they're confronted with things like smart women and capable foreigners, which makes them uncomfortable, and uncomfortable people often get defensive and belligerent. There are questions about what a society should provide for its people and how; not every society answers those questions the same way.

One thing I like about Maryam is that her combination of qualities and circumstance will place her firmly in the central action -- no matter who else shows up. The steamsmith is at the hub of a wheel, that connects with other wheels.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 4th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>>Right. I think much of the conflict comes as people are realizing more about how the world actually works, and it's not always what they thought it would be. So they're confronted with things like smart women and capable foreigners, which makes them uncomfortable, and uncomfortable people often get defensive and belligerent. There are questions about what a society should provide for its people and how; not every society answers those questions the same way.

One thing I like about Maryam is that her combination of qualities and circumstance will place her firmly in the central action -- no matter who else shows up. The steamsmith is at the hub of a wheel, that connects with other wheels<<

Yes *and* yes, she is definitely the main character, and I love how this setting is shaping up to be 'steam' and 'punk' in a very unusual way, most of what I read seems to be very 'Victorian with technology grafted on', this.is.different.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>>Yes *and* yes, she is definitely the main character, and I love how this setting is shaping up to be 'steam' and 'punk' in a very unusual way, most of what I read seems to be very 'Victorian with technology grafted on', this.is.different.<<

I've been exploring some of the other scientific and technological differences, trying to spot the major ones; and the branches of medicine; and trying to figure out which cultures have focused on what. I haven't gotten to the stage of collating those impressions yet though.
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