Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Steampunk, Pirates, and George R.R. Martin, Amongst Other Things...

Yikes, it’s been over two months since my last post, and I do apologize. It’s been a busy Spring , as you might imagine, so here’s a quick recap—news of what’s been going on, and what’s to come.

Steampunk – I’m finally done teaching for the academic year. It was a busy term with lots of lesson planning and grading, but for all my squawking and complaining I did have a great time with several of my classes, particularly the steampunk class I taught. It  gave me a proper excuse to read a lot of steampunk cannon, including Morlock Night, K.W. Jeter’s seminal steampunk novel, which is now back in print thanks to Angry Robot Books. It’s a fun, romping adventure with time travel, Merlin and King Arthur, and all kinds of steampunk milieu. In addition to Jeter’s novel, I also got a chance to delve into the past issues of Steampunk Magazine. It’s a very cool mag, especially considering the electronic version is free, though I found myself mostly drawn toward their non-fiction articles. Most of the fiction was a little too dense for my liking, and I can’t help but feel that a lot of the people caught up in the Steampunk sub-culture the magazine caters to probably take themselves too seriously (I mean, come on, you can’t take yourself that seriously when a big part of your subculture is playing dress-up), but there’s a lot to like about their philosophy in that it values a self-reliant, do it yourself ethos.

MagicalWords article – And speaking of steampunk, I recently had a new article come out at on the topic of collaborative works. It has some great exclusive interview tidbits from steampunk progenitors and frequent collaborators Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock, as well as my Baldairn Motte collaborators, Craig Comer and Ahi Kerp.

Dreamwielder is now agented – I’m happy to announce that I have found representation for my fantasy novel Dreamwielder through Kimberly Cameron & Associates, and my agent, Liz Kracht (you can follow her on Twitter), is shopping the manuscript around to some big time publishers. It’s a slow process, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed we find a great home for the book. For those of you curious about the process of finding an agent, check out my previous post on the subject here.

Pirates! – I just finished writing a lengthy historical/pirate/steampunk story, called “Men Go In, Gold Comes Out,” for the next volume of Pirates & Swashbucklers. My story “The Silent Mistress” appeared in the first Pirates & Swashbucklers anthology, and the editor asked if I would like to write a new piece for the follow-up. Like any good human, I have a soft spot in my heart for pirates, so I gladly agreed. The new volume of pirate tales should be out late summer or early fall, I’m guessing.

A new novel – Now that I’m done with the pirate story, the project I’ll be focusing on for the foreseeable future is a new novel tentatively titled Remember the Future. It’s a near future literary/spec-fiction novel that will be exploring the ideas of sustainability, climate change, clairvoyance, and of course, the very human problems people have to deal with on a daily basis: jobs, bills, government, asshole neighbors, self-doubt, and nurturing a romantic relationship. I have a first chapter done that I’ve workshopped with both my writing groups, and I’ll be doing revisions and forging ahead with chapter 2 as soon as I’m done with this blog post! My goal is to have a rough draft done by the end of the summer, but we’ll see if that happens or not. Without classes to teach, I’m left to find another dirty job to feed myself over the summer. We’ll see what I manage to wrangle up and how much time and energy it leaves me with to write.

Teaching a class on George R.R. Martin – Come September it’s back to school, and I’m super stoked to be teaching a major authors course on George R.R. Martin at the Orange County School of the Arts. I probably won’t have students read any of the A Song of Ice and Fire books since most Martin fans are likely already familiar with that work, but I’m currently reading Fevre Dream (also back in print, in mass media paperback), and assuming it’s appropriate enough for high school kids, I’ll be having them read that. Apart from Fevre Dream, it’ll mostly be short stories, so if you have any favorite Martin short stories, let me know which ones you nominate.

Wheel House in the studio – My band Wheel House has been together for two years now and things are picking up. We’ll be playing at the House of Blues in Hollywood on June 20, and then we’re hoping to get into the studio to record our first album. Us being poor bastards makes it difficult to afford studio time, so we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign. If you’re a fan of indy music, or just supporting the arts in general, please take a gander at our pitch video, share it with your friends, and pledge whatever you can afford. For as little $5, backers will receive an advanced copy of the album when it’s all done. If we meet our funding goals, we head into the studio in late July. The last day to pledge is July 4, 2012.

Please visit the Wheel House EP Kickstarter page to support this project. 

That's all for now. Back to work for me. As always, thanks for coming to visit.

-Garrett Calcaterra


  1. A class on Martin? That's rather rad.

    Sandkings is probably a must read. So might be The Skin Trade, though that might be a bit long.
    A Song for Lya isn't my favorite, but it might be a pretty good choice for teaching.

  2. Sandkings and The Skin Trade are both great. Sandkings was made into an episode of Outer Limits, right? It might be cool to read the story then watch the episode. I think I might have read A Song for Lya a long time ago, but if I did, it left no impression on me. Will check it again, or for the first time...

  3. "With Morning Comes Mistfall" is a short story that would have probably won the Hugo and/or Nebula award if it were published in a different year, but was up against some stiff competition. It lost to stories by Ursula Le Guin and James Tiptree, Jr., respectively.

    And it might be hard to obtain, but the teleplay "The Toys of Caliban" is one of my favorite episodes from the New Twilight Zone series of the 1980s. It was published in Subterranean #1, but might be available for classroom use by contacting the author directly. If the teleplay is unavailable for reading, the episode can be viewed on YouTube at

  4. Michael, thanks for the suggestions and sorry for taking so long to get back to you (I had my comment notifications turned off for some reason). Anyhow, my class did end up reading "With Morning Comes Mistfall" which I agree is great. We also read Sandkings and watched the Outer Limits adaptation. In addition, we watched "The Return of the King" TwilightZone episode he wrote and a couple episodes of Beauty and the Beast (which cracked them up). Right now the students are creating their own shared world mosaic novel, inspired by the Wild Card series. Good stuff.