Yeah, I’d have opened the door too.

More below!

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Bobservations

Steamy

 

I understand the Steampunk appeal, I really do. The intermeshing gears, the wafting vapors, the giant floating airships, the elegant Victorian finery, the sense of adventure. Not to mention the ability to discard actual laws of physics at a whim. It’s really been coming on since Jules Verne, and there were traces of it even in Miyazaki’s Nausicaä and Laputa. That same sense that gravity doesn’t really apply, that air is almost as thick as water, and that aircraft were invented in the mid 1800s. Within that realm, you can ignore facts like it takes a really huge balloon to float even a fairly small structure, that wind is a constant problem, that brass and leather are actually kinda heavy and uncomfortable, and just go for the style. Y’know, like Bioshock Infinite. 

Heck, I’m even co-writing a semi-steampunk novel myself (GyreWorld — there’s links on the page) which is “semi” in that it’s essentially a steampunk fantasy without any actual steam (since the world itself has limitless mechanical energy for free.) But it has all the other elements.

So I enjoy it. I liked watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and even Golden Compass, although neither really did well enough to justify sequels. I enjoy seeing the costumes at conventions (especially the ones resembling Marissa’s here) and I have been reading Kindle novels in that genre just so I can stay in the mindset for my own work. I’m planning to do a collection of steampunk effects — overblown, elegant-looking muzzle flashes that have a lot of billowing flame and steam venting; that sort of thing. It’s trickier than you think — steam and fire don’t really mix, as when the fire gets hot, the steam goes away. Science! You know, that annoying reality that steampunk fiction likes to ignore.

But in my quest for steampunk fiction, I keep looking for good, manly stuff, with airship pirates and fights and explosions. It’s not easy. Most of the steampunk stuff is apparently written by women, and while a couple of them have done a commendable job of writing good adventure stories in the genre, the fact that I’ve been buying their books has not escaped Amazon’s notice. And its Recommendation algorithm, working from what it has been able to interpret, has deduced that apparently I am in the market for books written by women set in a fantasy-Victorian period.

So every time I open my Amazon page, I am confronted with a “Recommended For You” gallery of what can only be described as steamy bodice-rippers. Bosomy women looking wistful on windswept moors or airship decks, often in the arms of someone male and muscular who is not wearing a shirt.

I know it’s just an algorithm, and I shouldn’t really care what it thinks, but I do. I can’t help it. I get embarrassed. And as a result, I will deliberately go and buy something manly that I don’t even need, like a hammer or something. Compensating. But there’s no denying I’m actually giving Amazon money just because I’m worried about what their computer program thinks of me.

I dunno. Maybe the algorithm is smarter than I thought.

— Bob out

ARTIST’S NOTES

By popular demand, Marissa’s wallpapers are ready for download!  Available in 4K, 1600×1000, and what I assume is a decent smartphone format.  Donations much appreciated but not required.  Enjoy!

-Max