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June 10, 2009
A Style Mash-Up
What would you get if you took the 19th-century notion of a penny dreadful and updated it for the 21st-century iPhone? The makers of Steampunk Tales think they have an answer.
Steampunk is a pop-culture phenomenon this decade. There are books, music, and cons devoted to this movement. Since it has many roots in updated Victorian-era items it seems like fertile ground for bringing out something people from that time would have recognized as a novel, but updated to modern technological sensibilities.
Steampunk Tales is also drawing from the pulp-fiction publishing form that flourished in America in the mid-20th century. Pulp magazines back then focused on specialized audiences (westerns, horror, romance, detective stories, and science fiction were all popular pulp genres) and delivered a monthly dose of short fictions from a wide variety of authors.
In this case they're promising to deliver monthly story collections for a modest USD 2 price tag, much lower than the magazine-stand prices for the few specialty mags that survive to this day. Back in March of this year I noted that the economics of print paper distribution are horrible and getting worse, compared to e-book economics. The iPod is probably not an idea e-book platform, but it's much more widely available than even the popular Kindle and for reading short fiction it may serve well enough.
One of the things that steampunk celebrates is the "maker" culture (see for example Make Magazine) and in that spirit I celebrate Steampunk Tales' attempt to make a cross-century mash-up work. (Too bad I don't own an iPhone to read it myself.)
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