Is it steam punk?

I think this blog should become more for children, so here goes.

Earlier this month I had a fabulous tour to several schools from Christchurch to Dunedin. Bright kids, great teachers and librarians, and some really interesting question sessions after I’d read from the Tales of Fontania.

‘Is it steam punk?’ asked one boy at North Dunedin Intermediate. Yes! In the world of the novels, magic and science are trying to find some sort of balance.

In The Travelling Restaurant, stern but fair Polly (who climbs rigging in her high-heeled green boots)  says this: ‘Once upon a time, the world was rich in magic. It was used wisely, not wasted on anything selfish or mean-spirited. It was saved for important things like making sure babies slept safe in their cots, that people had enough to eat, and that the world was peaceful. There were dangers, as there always is with magic. But there was also common sense. Some people began to experiment with science and machines, and that was all right. You see, everyone thought somebody was in charge.’

In The Queen and the Nobody Boy, the wind-train is one such new machine. I based it on a very early 19th Century idea for air travel. And in a newspaper last week, I saw that a new 21st Century airplane uses some of the ideas I’d come up with for my wind-train: using oil for an engine but also being able to glide when necessary. Did I feel proud? Definitely. And the message birds in The Queen and the Nobody Boy are really like primitive cell phones.

One question underlying the stories is, where do things that appear magical become ‘real’ and able be explained by science? But I like to feel that some things can’t be explained, that there is a magic in ordinary human decency and respect for each other, and that some things just don’t rely on logic and being rational.

In the fourth Tale of Fontania, I hope the themes of magic versus science will come to a chaotic, funny and moving finale. But at the moment, I’d better move on with the third Tale. It is coming close to being finished.

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