Backing Steam: Anthology and Mystery
Created by ApprenticeLiesel on 11/13/2012 1:16:04 AM

Liesel Hindmann focuses on The World of Steam and Laser Lace Letters for November's Backing Steam.


Happy November, and welcome back to Backing Steam! October was a great month for the featured musicians. Megan Jean and the KFB raised $10,761 towards creating The Devil Herself, which will also cover instrument repairs and vinyl pressing. As for Eli August and The Abandoned Buildings, there are still a few days left in their campaign, but they’re currently at 90% of their funding goal.

I hope you’re in the giving mood for November, because there are a couple of great projects lined up. First off is the webseries The World of Steam. A Twilight Zone style anthology series, The World of Steam will be telling various steampunk stories in different worlds and features quite a stellar cast and crew. However, they need 75,000 to do it and are only at 61% of their goal at the time of writing. To learn more about the series, I spoke to creator Matt King about the series and why he decided to use Kickstarter to back it.


Liesel Hindmann: Can you tell us a little bit about what The World of Steam is about? 

Matt King: As it says in the Kickstarter, I am a serious fan of the writing of a ton of Steampunk authors and a huge geek for The Twilight Zone. I haven't seen an anthology series that was fulfilling my needs, so I decided to create one. A set of Twilight Zone-like episodes set in a Steampunk Universe. If you liked Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, Amazing Stories, The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone, you have a feel for where I am going with the show.

LH: There are some rather large names working on The World of Steam, such as composer Bear McCreary and voice actor Phil Lamarr. Is there anyone in particular you were excited to have joining up on the project? 

MK: Phil is a buddy. We did GI Joe together. I've known Bear from when he was living in a tiny flat with my future writing partner Peter Gamble, and he would shut his door and strange and beautiful music would emerge. I'd say overall I am excited about being able to do this type of project with these people I have known for years. We've watched each other grow, and it's amazing to be able to provide a space for all of us to work in. If we get Gary Oldman on the show in the future, I'll turn into a blithering idiot, which is what I did the first time I met him (story for another time).

LH: Why use Kickstarter to fund the series? 

MK: Because money is energy, the internet is the artistic equivalent of the old west, and the Hollywood system is denying interesting IP left and right. I can seek funding for this in traditional ways, get rewrites from people who think it's one thing but want to make it into another, have to combine two things together so they make sense to producers but in a way sell the project down the river (Me: It's like "Wild Wild West meets Amazing Stories" Them: So you're going to have mechanical spiders? Me: uh...) I'd rather take it to the fans, do it on a dime with as much creativity that I can muster, and let it soar or fail on it's own merits.

Other thought about this: If you look at comedians and comedy clubs, that is their space to fail. Comedians go through this crucible, and come out with individualistic amazing stuff with courage and compassion and love and hate and cynicism all wrapped up in a funny package. And then Hollywood in many cases (not all) takes it and creates a "product" out of their comedy. And you get King of Queens, Seinfeld or George Lopez, and when it's good, the material rises above the funny-by-committee nature of the studio system and creates something long lasting. But in many cases it just becomes watered down (look at Margaret Cho's All American Girl). I wanted to create a show that would not get watered down, and stayed true to fans... simply, because I AM a fan.

LH: What can backers of the project expect in terms of rewards? What can they expect from the project itself? 

MK: Lemme go last first. They can expect REAL science fiction and fantasy. Or at least my opinion of what REAL science fiction and fantasy is. I think sci fi and fantasy is about asking interesting questions and using extreme circumstances to try to answer those questions. It's like a really good conversation at a dinner party. Some guy corners you and says: There is a bomb that can blow up the whole planet and it's on a spaceship headed to earth. Do you blow it up? What if the spaceship is filled with people? With kids? That escalation of morality and circumstance that would be outlandish in any other universe is what I think makes Sci Fi my favorite genre when it's done right. Steampunk is an environment that is ready made for these questions, for it is a time period when we ACTUALLY DID answer a lot of these questions about morality, ethics, and what makes humans humans and society society.

In terms of rewards, we have armor and airship papers, DVDs and mechanical krakens. We have Clockwork hearts, One of a kind art and the ability to become a character in the novels of Steampunk luminaries. We have oodles of gear and gadgets made with superior handmade craftsmanship from some of the best Steampunk designers in the business. I feel incredibly lucky that so many of them decided to donate their time, art and attention to the project.

LH: What would you say to those who are on the fence about backing The World of Steam? 

MK: I would say, you should get off that fence, you shouldn't be up their wearing pants that nice, you're going to rip them. Come down and have some lemonade.

LH: There are descriptions for three episodes so far. Is there a favorite of yours out of those three, or is the best yet to come?

MK: I am making episodes that I am hoping will appeal to more of a female fan/geek community. I feel that having daughters myself, I wanted to be able to write them stories that was specifically for them, in the way that my being a fanboy in my 80s childhood felt tailored to me. I still feel in many ways (and maybe this is the overprotective dad) that girl geeks are forced to fit many times into a male mindset (and, sure, some love that and thrive there). But I have known too many female geeks that were not quite satisfied with the dish being served, and I wanted to craft something for them. Steampunk seemed like the perfect place to start.

Now I'm going to contradict myself completely.

The second episode "The Duelist," is my ode to Fairbanks, Princess Bride, The Court Jester, Toshiro Mifune, Bruce Lee and Jane Austen all wrapped into one, and I can't wait to see it.

LH: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

MK: What is your favorite setting for Steampunk? Western? Eastern? European? American?


Thank you to Matt for answering my questions! Backing for The World of Steam ends on  November 23.

The other project for this month is a fascinating combination of literature and craft. The Laser Lace Letters is a series of fictional letters set in an alternate London that revolve around the disappearances of seven people who disappeared after commissioning cameos of themselves.

Not only are there ebooks and tangible versions of the letters offered in this kickstarter, there are also gorgeous laser cut physical cameos of the ones the story revolves around. There are exclusive pins and chances for your own custom cameos among the rewards for this project. Laser Lace Letters is currently at 39% of its $17,000 goal with the project ending on November 27.

That’s it for this month. I’ll return in December with more projects, but for now, may your steampower always have back up.

Liesel Hindmann is the Steampunk Chronicle’s Assistant Media Editor and Backing Steam columnist. She is the Apprentice of Internal Machinations and Operations for The Extraordinary Contraptions and considers herself a lover of media from multiple dimensions. You can follow her on Twitter as well as her blog: The Diary of a Dimension Hopper.

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