Why I Stopped Writing The Flying Squirrels

So I haven’t published anything here in awhile, and the reason for that is not that I gave up writing, but rather just that I started working on a project I’d like to keep private for now.

It took up the bulk of my writing time/energy for the last several months, but it’s finally at a point where I feel I can dial that commitment back and get some work done on other smaller projects that I post here. But there are a few things that will be different going forward.

First off, many of you have probably noticed that I haven’t posted anything new in The Flying Squirrels in over a year.

Steampunk as a genre is deeply connected to the Victorian Era and British colonialism. The aesthetic is one of refined English gentry, their vast empire, and the fantastical inventions made possible by those institutions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be, but it usual is. This presents an obvious problem, in that the British Empire, and the English Nobility, are institutions that were fueled by the sweat and blood of oppressed people. Whether on the vast Indian subcontinent, or the small island of Ireland, the legacy of colonialism is one of exploitation and atrocity. That’s just a fact.

So what?

Well, it means when you write a work in the Steampunk genre, with group of British soldiers as your protagonists, and they’re doing espionage to provoke a war between other nations for the benefit of their Empire, you are conveying a particular brand of politics. There are nuances and particulars to the situation of course, and I was aware of this when I started writing. I tried to convey a very different world than the actual one of 1914. In some obvious way of course, but also I tried to convey a world where colonized peoples had been more successful in their resistance. I alluded to First Nations peoples having secured a modern state for themselves in the land West of the Mississippi, a resurgent Incan Empire, and a league of African nations that had successfully expelled European Colonists.

And yet, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable writing the some later chapters of The Flying Squirrels. These chapters didn’t have anything particularly troubling in them, but it was very much on my mind, and I couldn’t shake it. I had left India a part of the British Empire, as well as Argentina, and parts of the Caribbean. It wasn’t that what I had done was wrong from a storytelling perspective, but I definitely felt like I could be handling it better.

To be clear: this is not the end of The Flying Squirrels, but I am definitely reworking the thing from top to bottom.

As a result, I’m taking all the current chapters off the site for now. I’ll be rewriting the story from the beginning, and there will be some changes.

While I don’t think I’ll discard this alternate British Empire as the setting for our story, I definitely want to make sure I’m not glorifying the legacy of colonialism.

Other changes to the site will be coming shortly, and I hope you’ll join me moving forward.

Thanks for reading.

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