Eric Brown is an award-winning writer and cornerstone of the SF community; a regular contributor to the Guardian’s SF book reviews and a much-respected novelist. Jani and the Greater Game is his first Steampunk novel and – in true Brown style – it’s going to be a must-read both for fans of his previous work, and for readers interested in the new wave of Steampunk and alt-history. Engaging, enthralling and evocative, Jani and the Greater Game is redefining the world of Steampunk.
What Steampunk Means To Me
by Eric Brown
I read steampunk at its very inception, long ago in the 1980s – Tim Power’s The Anubis Gates, K.W. Jeter’s Infernal Devices, and the works of James P. Blaylock – back when the sub-genre wasn’t even graced with a sobriquet but was lumped in with the catch-all term of Fantasy. Little did any of us realise, at the time, what a thriving genre it would become, nor what a lifestyle sub-culture these and other novels would spawn. (There is even, as I sit typing, a Steampunk-themed café seven miles north of here in North Berwick, East Lothian).
To me, in the Eighties, these and other novels occupied a strange hinterland between SF and Fantasy. While fantastical, they didn’t much partake of the occult or the overly magical; and while ostensibly SF, they weren’t tied to the rigorous rationality of Hard SF. They were great adventure romps which played fast and loose with the conventions of science fiction and fantasy; they had their cake and ate it.
Keith Brooke‘s first novel, Keepers of the Peace, appeared in 1990, since when he has published seven more adult novels, six collections, and over 70 short stories. For ten years from 1997 he ran the web-based SF, fantasy and horror showcase infinity plus, featuring the work of around 100 top genre authors, including Michael Moorcock, Stephen Baxter, Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, Vonda McIntyre and Jack Vance. Infinity plus has recently been relaunched as an independent publishing imprint producing print and ebooks. His novel Genetopia was published by Pyr in February 2006 and was their first title to receive a starred review in Publishers Weekly; The Accord, published by Solaris in 2009, received another starred PW review and was optioned for film. His most recent novel, Harmony (published in the UK as alt.human), is a big exploration of aliens, alternate history and the Fermi paradox, published by Solaris in 2012. Writing as Nick Gifford, his teen fiction is published by Puffin, with one novel also optioned for the movies by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s Caveman Films. He writes reviews for the Guardian, teaches creative writing at the University of Essex, and lives with his partner Debbie in Wivenhoe, Essex.
Eric Brown: So far this year you’ve published two books. Or is it three? First there was Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: The Sub-genres of Science Fiction; then there were Harmony and alt.human. Would you care to explain?
Keith Brooke: It’s actually only two books! Strange Divisions and Alien Territories is a non-fiction book about SF, published by Palgrave Macmillan in March. Harmony and alt.human are a single novel, going by different titles for the North American and UK markets.