Islamic Steampunk?

Yakoub Islam writes about his hopeful novel-to-be, a steampunk adventure based on Islam.

Here is a blurb:

December, 1148. Europe’s second crusade has failed to take Damascus, and worse, a new Saracen threat is ascending – steam power. At least, that’s the terrifying message Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux brings to Pope Eugenius, in order to convince the Pontiff to declare the steamer al-Jaariya an agent of the devil. In truth, the unarmed paddleship steaming up the the Tyrrhenian is the invention of a secret society united by a vision of peace and prosperity through technology: Ikhwan al-Idries (the Brethren of Enoch), and among its esteemed passengers is the world’s greatest living geographer and the Brethren’s special rapporteur, Muhammad al-Idrisi. But Abbot Bernard is not the only enemy of the Brethren determined to sink the steamer. An equally deadly foe is already aboard – an Ismaili assassin, identity unknown. Then late one night, accompanied by his young student Dwadar, al-Idrisi enters the mysterious Cabin 13, and encounters the only human being alive who knows the dangers al-Jaariya faces, and the means to safe passage: Hildegard of Bingen.

And here is an essay on The “Muslim” in Muslim Steampunk:

One of the most intractible problems in the planning of my hope2be novel is the part played by Islam in the main characters’ lives and thoughts. My fear is that characters will be either superficially pious, performing salah whilst uttering perfunctory insha Allahs – yet for all intents and purposes possessing the worldview of of an engineer living in Uxbridge, or else be imbewed with an Islamic sensibility so “authentic”, the novel will be rendered virtually inaccessible to all but the most pious Muslim readers.  Evidently, a middle way is required. – continue reading.

Yakoub maintains the Steampunk Sharia / Tasneem Project web site, where he has a series of essays focusing on aspects around his novel in progress. Do check it out!


3 thoughts on “Islamic Steampunk?

  1. Sounds perfectly fascinating to me. sadly, I can count on one hand the number of novels I’ve read where the main characters are Muslim, or the story takes place in a predominantly Muslim city.

    I’m not Christian, but I’ve read some great stuff where the main characters do follow that faith, and it’s a major part of their lives, but the story doesn’t feel religious or preachy or anything – The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, and just about anything from Stephen Lawhead’s early career. Religion is a major, major part of these people’s lives, but the story speaks to any reader, regardless of their beliefs.

    I’m gonna go spend some time on Mr. Islam’s website.

  2. OK, I need to read that book right now!

    I can sympathise with your issues in integrating Islam. You’ve actually got three challenges: first, having a predominantly Islamic worldview in a book that will be read by people who don’t have a deep understanding of that. Second, it’s a Medieval Islamic worldview. If Christianity’s anything to go by, that will be a very different Islam to today. And third, you need to weave in the steampunk aspects. Then again, presenting an unconventional worldview is a standard scifi problem. I’m sure you’ll come up with an answer.

    I really hope you can pull it off. Because if I’d seen that blurb on on the back of a book, I would have purchased it already.

    And let me echo the Redhead’s recommendations of both The Sparrow and Stephen Lawhead’s books. They’re excellent.

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