Jugaar and the art of sub-Continental steampunk

I was introduced to the concept of Jugaar * by my uncle many years ago and was instantly delighted.

The story goes that in the time of the Raj a British engineer was looking despondently at the broken coupling between train carriages. The train, he thought, could not run until a replacement part arrived from the foundry.

His workers, in a display of Indian ingenuity, came up with an alternative; bodged together from whatever they had at hand (whether it was intricately knotted steel cable, daisy-chained cargo hooks, or the simple expedient of some Herculean pehlwan holding things together by brute force is lost in the mists of history). The train ran on time and thus was born the jugaar: a join, just not the way you thought. The concept has expanded to refer to any kind of engineering hack or a simple, innovative solution using the materials to hand.

I was mostly delighted because this story linked my love of a bodge, born and bred in London, to my Asian heritage. Every repair with non-standard parts and build with what I had lying around the workshop was suddenly part of a grand tradition. I also loved the economy and efficiency of it. In our throw-away society a mindset geared to reuse, repurpose, recycle is of enormous and immediate merit. (You can check out my scaffold garden bench here)

This is my latest fix – when the plastic tab on the back of a twenty-year-old amplifier snapped, I opened it up, forced in some speaker wire, wrapped it around the connector and added a screw connector to the other end. Job done.

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You find this replayed all over the subcontinent: workshops running late into the night by tube light, a skinny guy on his haunches with an angle grinder or a welding torch finding a way to fix something with the bits and pieces of something else.

It is on the streets too, in the antique Bedford trucks belching black smoke that are somehow still on the road, every part so patched and mended that the original vehicle is only a memory. You might find a kid hanging out the door applying the brakes by means of a wooden block attached to his foot. Of course in this case, throw-away may be the better environmental and safety option.

blue and black truck on road near building and two motorcycles

Photo by Ali Madad Sakhirani on Pexels.com

All of which brings me to the paucity of Indian steampunk (I use Indian here because the historical setting of steampunk is pre-partition). Why is it that a society that has raised engineering creativity and bodging fabrication to a way of life doesn’t have a thriving literary sub-genre that revels in the making of things? I have only encountered this – Steampunk India –  (found by the incomparable Phoebe, of whom more below). Even my own “Like Clockwork” is set in Victorian England.

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And so to the world of “In the Cavern of the Sleepers” my story that will be in the forthcoming “Gears, Ghouls and Gauges” anthology. Steampunk set in India, blending science and mysticism, and an accommodation between Islam and Hinduism.

Here’s a blurb to whet your appetite:

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We’re running the Kickstarter now to fund the project. At the time of posting it has already reached its minimum funding goal. Phoebe Darqueling is the engine and governer driving this anthology and its sister “Cogs Crowns and Carriages”. Check out Phoebe’s blog to get involved and see all the cool stuff available.

Facebook both covers campaign

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* linguistic note on Jugaar – it is sometimes spelt jugaaR, denoting the hard sound where your tongue curls to the top of your palate. Also sometimes transliterated as jugaard or jugaad. Whatever you do don’t roll it.

Find out more about my writing here.

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Kickstarting a new anthology

Facebook both covers campaign

I’m really excited to be part of a new steampunk project – 24 stories across two volumes.

Check out the Kickstarter to see what we’re up to and get yourself an Early Bird deal: https://bit.ly/SteampunkAnthos

My story is probably the world’s first Indian steampunk, more on that soon.

 

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Find out more about my writing here.

 

From Sense and Sensibility to Steampunk (Guest Post on Gold Fever Press)

One of the neatest things for me, as a writer, is working with other writers. I belong to an active writing group full of wonderful people, such as my friend Ali Abbas. Last June, I had the pleasure of beta reading one of Ali’s novellas, “Like Clockwork,” which Transmundane Press released in February, 2017. I hope you […]

via Guest Post: From Sense and Sensibility to Steampunk — Gold Fever Press

Interview with Ali Abbas, author of Like Clockwork

Me, being interviewed!

Transmundane Press

Ali Abbas, the author of Like Clockwork was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. We hope you enjoy his interview; we did.

How much research did you do for Like Clockwork, and how much came from experience?

I worked for the Royal Navy for a while (in a civilian, non-sailing capacity). I picked up a lot about the culture and how deeply ingrained some standards and behaviours are from that time. Knowing my interest in these things, one of my colleagues loaned me a book of naval terms and history – there was nothing to do one an evening in Portsmouth but read it from cover to cover and back again.

In contrast, I knew next to nothing about clock making, the fashion of the time, and of course I had to double check some of the naval facts like cannon sizes and when certain ranks…

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The Great Blog Giveaway

Here it is – the first of the marketing promos from my publisher. Time to show the power of the internet.

It’s a raffle for a $10 Amazon gift voucher. With that you could buy a print copy of my book and have enough change to buy something that costs $4. Bargain. Or better yet, a beautiful fob watch, or thrill of thrills an ebook of my short stories.

Actually, Transmundane Press did the whole thing much more beautifully than I could – check out their teasers and giveaways page to see how marketing is done properly.

 

Still here?

OK Here’s the deal, you click on the link. It doesn’t take you anywhere sinister, just my author page (although the picture of two staring women with flames in the background is a bit sinister). That’s it. No need to like or share anything, although I’d be delighted if you did.

There are no restrictions. Family and friends can play, even people who have taken out restraining orders against me.

Get clicking

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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And if you made it this far down head over to youtube to see the trailer…

Like Clockwork – the cover

Mark the date: 28th Feb is our target for publication. Since my last announcement my friends at Transmundane Press have been busy coaxing my vision out of the virtual paintbrush of a designer, and here we have it.

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Here’s a reminder of what it is all about:

Commander Raymond Burntwood of the Royal Navy has returned to England where he meets the reclusive heiress Lady Ariana Grayhart. After the scandal of a night spent dancing together, Ariana returns home to Northumberland. Raymond’s superiors—seeking information about Ariana’s father—dispatch the commander under the cover of courting the heiress.

All is not as it seems in the Grayhart household. Captain Grayhart is an invalid, the servants maintain a monkish silence, and secrets are layered upon secrets. Everyone has their own agenda, from Raymond’s friend and confidante Du Bois, to the family lawyer Sir Berwick, and Ariana herself.

In the midst of it all, Raymond must unravel the truth of Captain Grayhart’s decline and save Ariana’s reputation and fortune. In doing so, he learns dark secrets about himself that could tear his world apart.

And if that is not enough to whet your appetite here is an excerpt:

Mon ami, you have taken the enemy flagship as a prize.” Du Bois was in fine form that evening. He lounged in the little cubicle of the dark, panelled restaurant and pulled on a cigar, adding to the dimness. The clink of cutlery from the other diners was distant; this was evidently a place for quiet conversation between men of means.

“How so?” I tried not to take umbrage at his statement; my limited financial resources were a testament to my lack of success in taking ships as prizes. My record of sinking the enemy was, in contrast, something to be proud of.

“Lady Ariana Grayhart. She is the only child of Captain Grayhart, whose late wife was the only daughter of the Duke of Wearhaven. The title of course lapsed without a male heir, but she retains the honorific as the granddaughter of a Duke.”

“Of course.” I had no idea about this sort of thing, but a response seemed to be required.

“What that means is she is rich. Rich in the manner of my forefathers.” He ticked off the elements on his long fingers, “Grayhart money from trade and factories, Wearhaven land to invest it on, and of course, the grand weight of the title. Any one of those would be beyond the dreams of a bootstraps boy like you.”

He was not being unkind, what he said was true. I joined the Navy when my mother died. My father was a sailor I had never met, and who had long been lost at sea.

“The Grayharts already owned swathes of your cold country. Edward Grayhart marrying up into the Wearhavens caused something of a stir, but the result is that it makes Lady Ariana a unique catch. Her arrival in London from Northumbria was eagerly awaited, and all the landless second sons were lined up to woo her.” He pointed his cigar at me, “Until you came along.”

I laughed at that. “I had no idea of any of this.”

“That could be what attracted her, someone courting for courting’s sake alone.” He leaned forward and said in a conspiratorial tone, “The young ladies are, of course, agog with the romance and the scandal, as well as being delighted by the removal from the field of an unbeatable rival.”

“Removal from the field?” I laughed again. “You forget that I have been at sea all my life, what do I know of women and courting? Besides, I know nothing of her feelings, nor have I made any proposal to her.”

“Faugh, Raymond, hang your head in shame. In front of all London society, you dance with her all night. You both ignore everyone else. You even ignored me.” That last seemed to hurt him most of all. Sparks flew as he stubbed the cigar out angrily.

“And yet you sit there and claim to have made no proposal.” He gripped my arm, fingers like iron. “You may escape to sea again, and come home to marry the daughter of a baker or a spice merchant. But memories are long for girls, and London will not quickly forgive or forget yesternight.”

Head over to Transmundane’s blog to read another excerpt.

Make sure you bookmark my author site for all the links of where to buy, and follow me on Amazon so that the endearingly enthusiastic retailer can nudge you when the book is launched.

 

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