Welcome to Black Satin and the Dawn's Early Light Blog Tour! A new steampunk adventure by my FaceBook friend and fellow author Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. Let's give them a hearty welcome to Black Satin!
These fabulous authors have so graciously provided a guest blog post for me in anticipation of the release of their work on March 25th.
I feel this will be a perfect work for me, since I recently discovered steampunk and I find it very intriguing, so I had to help. So sit back and enjoy some time with these fab authors. Peace! ~ CJ
Chicks Love a Man in a Bowler: The Fashion Sense of a Steampunk Gent
Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don't know where I am goin' to.
Silk suit, black tie,
I don't need a reason why.
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
Coz' every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.
—“Sharp Dressed Man,” ZZ Top
There is a lot to steampunk that makes it appealing. Jeff Vandermeer and S.J. Chambers’ Steampunk Bible touch on many of the visual aspects within this quirky, clever, and complex Past that Never Was; and therein lies a current debate amongst authors — are we reducing steampunk to nothing more than a veneer of gadgets, gizmos, and gaudy displays of extravagance?
My response to this: “Manners!”
Steampunk, if you wish it to be, can be a commentary of the real Victorian Era, certainly, or if you wish it to be a reflection of today’s modern problems told via 19th Century allegory, be my guest; but spare a moment on one of the subversive issues of steampunk: A Gentleman’s Renaissance. An unquestioned appeal of steampunk, amidst the automatons, the airships, and the modified weaponry of highest caliber and velocity, is a salute and — dare I say? — the return of the P.G. or Proper Gent. It fills my heart with joy as the finesse and style of walking sticks, bowlers, and fine-cut suits return, once again, to the public eye. I still remember watching late-night reruns of The Avengers, and feeling a true appreciation for John Steed’s style.
The P.G. of steampunk carries a commentary in itself: you can still go against the grain, still bring the fantastic to life, and still declare your own individuality while remaining true to tradition. When wearing a bowler, it only feels natural to tip your hat to a lady as you walk past. When wearing a stylish vest and pinned cravat, your posture immediately corrects itself as the fashion feels more comfortable when you walk with your back straight, your chin elevated just so. And you cannot help but smile when a lady’s eye falls upon you and her appreciation is most evident.
Add to your thought-out ensemble a touch of technology styled with Victorian flair, and it will be more than the tight corsets that will make the ladies swoon. With a properly cut suit, the right accessories, and the right hat, you make what can never be questioned as the right first impression.
I appeal to you who are steam-curious—consider your fashion carefully. Armored gauntlets and multi-ocular eyepieces are “wicked cool” to be sure, but equally wicked cool are polished shoes, a fine top hat (which provides a lovely place for one’s goggles), and a spiffy pocket watch. Clothes not only make the man, they refine him. Even a mad scientist’s frock should say something about how you take your tea; and when you’re making that first impression from your underground lair, you want that impression to last. You will want people to say, “That Doctor Pluto was a man of keen and cold intellect, yes, but he also knew the best tailors of Savile Row.”
You may worry that such details—a proper shave, manicured nails, and the occasional trip to the day spa—might make you less of a man, but I say anything less than a P.G. is being only half a man. Question me all you like, but as evidence I recommend a viewing of The Great Train Robbery featuring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. Connery’s own character of Edward Pierce concerned himself just as much over his fashion as he did the details of his daring heist. In the end he not only got the Crimean gold, he also got Lesley Anne-Down.
Something to keep in mind.
Tee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous Choose Your Own Adventure titles and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.
Tee has now returned to writing fiction with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, Dawn’s Early Light. When Tee is not creating something on his Macintosh, he enjoys a good run, a good swim, and putting together new playlists to write by. His other hobbies include cigars and scotch, which he regards the same way as anime and graphic novels: “I don’t know everything about them, but I know what I like.” (And he likes Avo and Arturo Fuente for his smoke, Highland Park for his scotch!) He enjoys life in Virginia alongside Pip, his daughter, and three cats.
Thank you so much Pip and Tee for spending time with us today!
Where can you find them?