Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Online steampunk fiction, novels, writing ad infinitum

I really should come up with a proper title for these updates on steampunk fiction on the web. Anyway, about time we had another rummage around the aethernet for new fiction and new authors.

First up - kids, look away now! - and akin to the wonderfully titled Steamypunk (being the fanciful erotica of a steampunk world) - is the new Like a Corset Undone for those who like their punk very steamy indeed...

All the trappings of steampunk society--corsets, airships, and 'leaping technologie'--meet the simmering undertone of sexuality so well-hidden by Victorian morality in LIKE A CORSET UNDONE, Circlet Press's third volume of erotic steampunk stories. By turns kinky and romantic, the stories in Like a Corset Undone explores all the reasons to unlace, whether to rebel, or for more intimate purposes.
This is the third title in the series from Circlet Press - "The Intersection of Erotica and Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Futurism", previous collections being Like Clockwork and Like a Wisp of Steam. More titles may be found at the homepage, which also includes new stories. Vinne Tesla's Ontological Engine is also available via mp3, for those who like their steam via aural means.

More prosaically, over at Booksie, ("Share Your Poems, Short Stories, Novels, and more with the world"), we find Incorrigable by 'chopetov13', a new young writer from Russia:

Will Forthright faces the opposites of neglagence and faithful service after the boiler on his ship explodes.
This appears to be the second of his steampunk stories, the previous being Goggles and flames .

A revolutionary rails against the injustices of the system as a factory mechanic finds shelter in his labor.
Also present on the site are 'Acid Varrakin', whose first draft of their entry to the 2010 Somerset Novella writing competition, To Destroy a Symbol promises a

steampunk-themed story, based on the premise that the 1970s punk revolution happened in Victorian England. It follows the adventures of the squeamish, womanizing D.I. Tril Henderson in his struggle to put an end to the violence.
and 'Ati's' Hounded: A Tale of Baker Street, whereby the Hound comes to Baker Street...

The cobblestones rolled like drops of rain under the metal paws of the Hound. The sky had a sick yellow pallor, and glowed weirdly. The cobblestones, slick with fresh rain reflected the yellow light grimly. The world took on a different hue around the Hound. Smiles, what smiles there could be on such an unnatural day shriveled like poisoned trees. Open doors shut, and shades came down on windows. Groups of people dispersed, and people vanished indoors. The Hound continued it’s bizarre walk, each stride the twin of the last, every dull yellow gas lamp gleaming over it’s chrome skin and morphine fangs the same as the one before.

The Hound had come to Baker Street.

As an aficionado of all thing Sherlock Holmes, I shall dive into this one with relish!

Finally in this brief round up, a visit to the Writer's Symposium ("Our mission is to "Help Writers Write."), a collective of 20 professional writers and editors who usuall come together at the Gen Con Game Fair. News from their blog reveals that Paul Genesse - author of The Dragon Hunters - will be writing a piece for Jean Rabe's anthology Steampunked:

I was fortunate enough to be asked to write a story for Jean Rabe’s next DAW anthology, Steampunked. I’ve been working on a story idea and have come up with a setting that I think has not been done before in this genre. I don’t want to say what it is now. However, I was able to attend a panel on Steampunk at the World Fantasy convention a few weeks ago and it got my mind going.
Worryingly, it appears that Mr Genesse has only just got to the Vendermeer's Steampunk, so we shall see what emerges from his pen...

'Ultramarines' WH40K movie in production

Yes indeed! After years of anticipation and frustration, finally, the first Warhammer 40,000 movie - Ultramarines - is in production.

Games Workshop (GW) first produced the table-top miniature wargame fantasy version of Warhammer back in the 1980s, creating a futuristic version - Warhammer 40,000 or WH40K - in 1987 (based upon an idea for a Rogue Trader game, which became incorporated into the first titles before a refocussing of the game). Originally intended to replace the dependence upon US titles such as Dungeons and Dragons, both Warhammer and WH40K have become the mainstay of GW, with books and computer games based upon the original table-top miniature game.

Set in the 41st millennium, most of the major storylines that provide the backdrop and history span over millennia.

The popularity of WH40K can be seen by just a brief perusal of the aethernet. Home movies, often produced by remashing footage from the computer games, or by stop motion animation, are a popular way of sharing enthusiasm, and can be found on youtube.

Probably the greatest disappointment came when Damnatus, a non-commercial low-budget movie made in Germany by fans and for fans, set in the WH40K universe, was blocked following ruling over copyright conflicts in England and Germany German copyright law confers the intellectual rights of created works to the people that created them, and thus Games Workshop would lose the rights to the intellectual property of Warhammer 40,000, on which Damnatus was based. GW has thus far refused to allow it to be shown, and has not changed this position despite online petitions and requests from the filmmakers. As a result, Damnatus was ended indefinitely on October 15, 2007. However, some footage was available online earlier in 2009 via Pirate Bay, and the trailer (and more) may be seen via here :

However, GW has now announced that an official WH40K movie is in production. Entitled Ultramarines, this has been greeted by fans of all ages enthusiatically.

On 5 October, London-based production company Codex Pictures announced today that it is in production in the UK and Canada on Ultramarines, a feature-length movie on DVD/Blu-ray set in Games Workshop’s futuristic Warhammer 40,000 universe. The sci-fi thriller, which is employing CGI and state-of-the-art animation production techniques, is being produced by Codex Pictures in association with Good Story Productions Ltd. The Canadian co-producer is POP6 Studios. The producers are Bob Thompson of Good Story Productions and David Kerney of Codex Pictures.

The film has been financed by Aramid Entertainment BV, POP6 Medias Inc and the Wales Creative IP Fund. The team behind Ultramarines were producers of the original, highly successful and multi award-winning DVD BIONICLE®, made for the LEGO Company. “We are delighted to be working with Codex Pictures on the first ever feature-length DVD movie set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe,” says Andy Jones, Head of Legal and Licensing for Games Workshop. “The talented team at Codex has a wealth of experience and are very passionate about Warhammer 40,000. We are confident that Ultramarines will deliver a fantastic visual and narrative experience.”

"We are thrilled to have been chosen to produce a feature film based on such an iconic global property - much sought-after by many other studios and producers over the years," says Vanessa Chapman, MD of Codex Pictures and executive producer of Ultramarines. "It's an important part of our company strategy going forward and marks the return of many members of the award-winning team behind BIONICLE®. Considerable time and research has gone into developing an authentic yet fresh approach to the design of the film. We hope it will be the first of many such projects."

Upon DVD release, there will be both a collector’s edition and international version.

Key to note here is that, unlike the perception at Game Day, the movie will have a DVD, and not a cinematic, release.

The director is Martyn Pick, whose credits include the 2009 film 'The Age of Stupid', on which he was animation director; London 2012, the promotional film commissioned by Film London and the London Development Agency which was
premiered at the Beijing Olympics; the 2001 US Budweiser NBA commercial; and the celebrated BBC promotional trailers for the Euro 2004 soccer tournament. Martyn was chosen to direct Ultramarines for his renowned and highly distinctive ability to fuse live action and animation and the fluid, rich painterly style of his film-making.

The screenplay has been written by someone who needs no introduction to Warhammer 40,000 fans – best-selling author Dan Abnett. Dan has penned more than 25 books for Games Workshop’s Black Library, with total sales in excess of 1.2 million copies. He also works regularly for 2000 AD, Marvel Comics and DC Comics
and has recently seen publication of the first of three novels for HarperCollins' new sci-fi, fantasy and horror imprint, Angry Robot.

Despite concerns about the director's lack of feature film experience, the presence of Abnett as screenwriter seems reassuring.

Video of the news release:

More information may be found at: http://codexpictures.com/news.html and http://ultramarinesthemovie.com/

As to what this means to steampunks?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Last chance to appear in 'Steampunk - the movie'

Those who have inadvertently wandered up this cul-de-sac of the aetherweb previously may have seen the posting upon the marvellously exciting prospect of Steampunk - the Movie.

Those of you present on Facebook may be interested to know that the production team have a page which is well worth visiting. As the movie's homepage illustrates, the intial footage is promising, although the page itself is still somewhat lacking in content.

The movie's premise?

imagine a city in the year 1897, but the world is different. Steam-powered airships prowl the skies, Inustrial cities that stretch to the horizon. Brass cufflinks and tophats with clockwork mechanizms that pop out umbrellas when it rains. Handlebar mustaches, party dresses, all the trappings of victorian society enmeshed in a clockwork technocracy.

Now imagine it all came crashing down. The airships stopped flying. The industrial complexes shut down. The lights of the world faded and grew dim, and in the slums it became harder and harder to get by. This is the story of four such people, trapped in a dying city, desperately seeking a way out."
If you would like to be part of this as an extra, (and are near Kentucky!) then Billy Boyd has sent out the call:

Saturday, 21 November 2009
Time: 08:00 - 16:30
Location: 1200 Old Frankfort Pike

This is your last chance to get in on Steampunk! We're looking for extras, ages 16-243 (no older!) who want to be a part of this thing. We need as many extras as we can get, so spread the word! Bring a friend! We'll have some food on hand, and there is a chance for some pretty decent screen time if you hang around for the chase scene! Come dressed in your funkiest steampunk attire (emphasis on Punk more than Steam). If you don't have Steampunk clothing, come in a dress shirt or tanktop, dark dress pants and shoes and we'll try to cover the rest. We can't put you in the film if you wear jeans and tennis shoes. The location is 1200 Old Frankfort Pike.

We start filming our first scene of the day from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, then we will shoot the second scene from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM. Sandwiches and water will be served at 1:00 PM. If you have any questions, please reply on the event thread!

If you are unable to make the shoot, but are still interested in being involved, then Billy says:

It's deceptively easy. You simply e-mail me and say "Heya, I want to be involved!" or something like that. We're mostly looking for extras and crewpersons. If you want to help crew, it's important that you have some experience, and any equipment you can bring will be a bonus.If you want to extra, it's great if you have a costume. If not, you can just wear dress shoes and dark slacks and we have whatever you'll need to be in costume!There will be notices from time to time as to when a "public" shoot will occur. These are scenes where we'll be asking for volunteers to be extras. Some parts are still available, and we tend to pull from people who show up to be extras, so if you're interested in taking on a big role, come by to extra-- it's a good way to get exposure if that's what you're after.

So, if you want to be involved, get over to the websites or e-mail Billy!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

20,000 Leagues down...

With many thanks (I think!) to Erasmus, lamentably it looks like the plug has been pulled on Disney's new 20,000 Leagues under the Sea: Captain Nemo movie. With $10m already spent, and locations and sets about to be built, this seems a bizarre move by new Disney chief Rich Ross.

The new movie was originally to be fast-tracked for release in 2010, although this was later revised to 2012. A successful movie was envisaged as the first in a new franchise along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean, exploding across the Disney franchise with new attractions at their themeparks as well as other media and merchandising.

Terminator 4 director McG was on board to direct, with script by Bill Marsilli (with revisions just completed by Michael Chabon), with the movie being a prequel to 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and based upon Jules Verne's disclosure of Nemo's origins in The Mysterious Island.

More information on the movie itself may be found over at the excellent Voyages Extraordinaire and on the demise of the movie here.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Steampunk Matrix

With many thanks to 'yousibtube' for bringing this to the wider world's attention, the genius of the Russian actor's group "Big Difference" (Bolshaya Raznitsa / Большая Разница) has finally come to my attention.

The group specialise in parodies of famour shows and films on Russian television, and Matrix 1905" presents a fine piece of their work, wonderfully crafted, and drawing upon key elements of early cinema to tell the story of a Matrix set in an earlier time. More of their work on Russia's "First Channel" may be found here.

In the meantime, enjoy Matrix 1905!

Friday, 23 October 2009

World's First Museum Steampunk Art Exhibition (allegedly)

Ah, academics! Tucked away in their Ivory Towers, the world passing them by in their blissful ignorance. At least, that is the perception which prevails. As an academic myself, my approach towards steampunk is naturally through academic goggles, as it were. As you may be aware, I try to do things a little differently here, and bring academic ventures into steampunk out of the shadows and into the light of the wider world - knowledge is useless unless it is shared!

The new exhibition taking place at Oxford University's Museum of the History of Science may be, as is claimed, the world's first museum steampunk art exhibition. I can think of at least two other steampunk art exhibitions previous to this - one hosted online by ESBQart, and the Anarchotechnofetishism exhibition of "artefacts by pioneers of American steampunk", hosted by Halogen in Seattle last year. I have absolutely no doubt that there are many, many more of which you are aware., but this latest is surely to be welcomed!

This exhibition does look enticing, inviting you to

Imagine the technology of today with the aesthetic of Victorian science. From redesigned practical items to fantastical contraptions, this exhibition, curated by Art Donovan, showcases the work of eighteen Steampunk artists from across the globe.
Expect ’steam-powered’ computer mice, clockwork hearts, brass goggles and the latest state-of-the-Steampunk-art eye-pod…

This is nothing new to 'punks, but very new to the great unwashed masses of the British public. What makes this worthwhile is that it is being curated by the genius that is Art Donovan, of whom I have reported before.

More than this, the exhibition aims to bring the world of steampunk to students, with a competition running to coincide with the event. To coincide with the exhibition, Secondary School Art and D&T departments are invited to submit students’ work to The Great Steampunk Art and Design Competition! More details, if you are lucky enough to fall into the entry categories, may be found via downloadable pdf here.

The organisers have certainly achieved a coup d'art in that the Museum's Broadsheet bulletin features the work of Sydney Padua, in a specially commissioned strip of her brilliant Lovelace and Babbage comic featuring Oxford. Ms Padua's wonderfully irreverant creation may be found at 2DGoggles, and, if you are new to Lovelace and Babbage, I suggest you click here to start your journey of discovery.

The exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science runs from 13 October 2009 until 21 February 2010. The Museum may be found at Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AZ. Mr Donovan has created a blog for the event, which may be found here, and which contains images from the exhibition.

For some truly awe-inspiring steampunk artwork in wood, you really need to see the work of Michael Rea, more of which will be posted in due course...

Monday, 12 October 2009

Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?


Forever indelibly moulded into my brain-waves, this seemingly insignificant number provides the key to a wonderfully irreverant dystopian vision of the present day. Why 42? Well, quite simply, author Douglas Adams believed it to be the funniest number.

12 October 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of thepublication of the book The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or H2G2), and sees the publication of another sequel in the trilogy, albeit not by the sadly missed Mr Adams, but by Eoin Colfer, with the blessing of the Adams estate.

And why is this interesting to steampunks? Good question - I am not the first SP to bring this up. In the UKs Guardian newspaper on 3 October, faced with the brilliance that is the Improbability Drive, or the Babel Fish, Jenny Turner notes that:

[Adams's] method is a bit like steampunk, in that it proceeds counterfactually, but with careful logic; or like steampunk, only without the steam. But there's a definite tea theme, and a lot of Englishness, and a distinctive note of piscine melancholy: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; The Salmon of Doubt. If Adams's books were a domestic appliance, they'd be a Sinclair ZX80, wired to a Teasmade, screeching machine code through quadraphonic speakers, and there'd probably be a haddock in there somewhere, non-compatible and obsolete.
Whilst this seems a strain to try and fit a square SF story into a round steampunk hole, it should be pointed out that H2G2 fits into a strand of English fiction which deals with technology and apocalypse, but in a manner similar to that of John Wyndham or EM Forster, rather than HG Wells. The H2G2 series is reassuringly English, down to its use of cricket - "Particularly the bit about the little red ball hitting the wicket, that's very nasty" - as a metaphor for unspeakable acts which should never be spoken of in polite society:

"Of all the races on the Galaxy, only the English could possibly revive the memory of the most horrific wars ever to sunder the Universe and transform it into what I'm afraid is generally regarded as an incomprehensibly dull and pointless game.

"Rather fond of it myself," Startibartfast added, "but in most people's eyes you have been inadvertently guilty of the most grotesque bad taste."

H2G2 shares much in common with good steampunk writing, whilst admittedly lacking the neo-Victorian element. Adams, like Wyndham, dealt with disasters of global proportions on the personal level, through small-scale obsolescence and disappointment. Brian Aldiss has repeatedly termed Wyndham's writing as "cosy catastrophe", something seen throughout steampunk writing, and Adams' writing certainly fits this description. In H2G2 we see the personal disaster of Arthur Dent's home being demolished mirrored in the demolition of the Earth, both to make way for new bypaths for someone else's traffic. The genius is that Adams brought the inexplicable, the enormous and complex, the confusingly technical down to absurd simplicity - the complexity of the universe's languages simply translated as a by-product of sticking a small yellow fish in your ear - in a manner seen throughout steampunk. Who could forget the amazingly complicated steampowered machine of Doc Brown's blacksmith's shop, whose sole purpose is to produce two pieces of dirty ice for his drink (in Back to the Future III)?

Not perhaps the most obvious of steampunk writing, but H2G2 is underpinned with that same witicism which marks the best of steampunk, including that of Toby Frost, author of the marvellous Captain Smith series. Mr Frost chronicles the adventures of Captain Smith, hero of the British Space Empire. In the third in the series, Wrath of the Lemming Men,
his crew must defend the Empire and civilise the stuffing out of a horde of bloodthirsty lemming-men - which would be easy were it not for a sinister robotics company, a Ghast general with a fondness for genetic engineering and an ancient brotherhood of Morris Dancers...
What better praise for Mr Frost than from Dirk Magg, director of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy's Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases...
Set in a universe where the suns never set on a stiff upper lip, this warm-hearted and funny interstellar romp gives the sacred cows of sci-fi a good kicking before racing home in time for tea.
Adams was never one for resting on his laurels (even trying to create an early version of the internet), always adapting to new environments for his material (until recently, radio was always the best place for an army of 1 million robots enter stage left) and was always desperate to see his vision on film. Although the film of 2005 annoyed many devotees with changed characterisation and story lines, I think he would have been pleased with the final result.
Mostly Harmless was the last in the original trilogy, and was Adams' method of closing down the seemingly unending series - Arthur knows he will die on the planet Stavro Mueller Beta - but Adams was unhappy with the manner in which he finished the series, believing it too depressing. He died (in a tragic, typically English, manner whilst exercising on a static bicycle) before he could produce a sixth book in the trilogy, and this is where Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing comes in.
The H2G2 universe has appeared in slightly different forms, with slightly different stories and conclusions, ever since first appearing as a radio programme in 1978. True to this tradition, the latest novel, And Another Thing, has been adapted for the BBC's Radio 4, and is read by comedians Stephen Mangan and Peter Serafinowitz.

If you have never heard of any of the things I have been writing about above, or if you have ever simply lain in a field, drunk, watching the night sky wheel about you, then, don't panic, but do the decent, civilised thing, and read (or listen) to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

little more mainstream than usual, but I can hardly contain my excitement!
Quite possible "one of the best things I've ever done" according to its creator, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus will blast across the silver screen very shortly indeed.

The death of its star, Heath Ledger, has been a mere stumbling block for the genius that is Terry Gilliam. Rather, the main protagonist, in a move which mirrors that of the genesis and evolution of Orlando, and that mainstay of regeneration, Dr Who, the character of 'Tony' undergoes a series of transformations, being played not just by Ledger, but Mr Johnny Depp, Mr Colin Farrell, and Mr Jude Law. As such, this should be a visual delight for the ladies!

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a travelling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom.

Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr Nick, in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr Nick.

Valentina is now rapidly approaching this 'coming of age' milestone and Dr Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate.....

For the gentlemen in the audience, the beautiful Lily Cole brings her presence as Valentina, marking her shift from St Trinian's trophy towards more meaty roles in upcoming films such as Marilyn Manson's The Visions of Lewis Carroll.

As with so many of Gilliam's movies and animations, the influence of steampunk is not far beneath the surface, as this trailer indicates!

Insider secrets from Mr Gilliam himself, from Quick Entertainment, demonstrates his passion for this project. Beware, there are some spoilers...

With a host of inspirationally mainstream darkly fantastical movies including Parnassus, Alice in Wonderland, Phantasmagoria, we are in for a real treat in the next few years. We can only wait with trembling anticipation for more news on American McGee's Alice....

The offical Parnassus site resides here . Enjoy!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Gatehouse Gazette 8

The latest installement of the brilliantly exceptional Gatehouse Gazette is available for download - for FREE - here in pdf format.

The Gatehouse Gazette, produced by Mr Nick Ottens, showcases the wide diversity of talents demonstrated by denizens of the Gatehouse's Smoking Lounge and their steampunk friends.

The latest edition, as the year turns rapidly towards the gloom brought with the annual cycle of the dying of the Sun, is focussed upon Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve, or Samhain. Recently, the Lounge has welcomed some new residents, including artist extraordinaire Myke Amend, who contributes the front cover. Ms Hilde Heyvaert of House of Secrets Incorporated opens with an article about Victorian Halloween and provides homemade holiday greeting cards appropriate to the season. Also featured is an interview with the enfant terrible of dieselpunk, artist Sam Van Olffen and, often mentioned here on the blog, introduces Ms Natania Barron with the short story, “Dr. Adderson’s Lens.”

Mr Rauchfuß brings the history of H.P. Lovecraft, master of the horror genre, while Ella Kremper concludes her series of Hammer Horror reviews with the 1968 movie The Devil Rides Out. Further reviews include You Are Empty, set in a post-apocalyptic Soviet-Union, and the latest installment in the Wolfenstein franchise.
As a huge afficionado of both steampunk and horror, I have been looking forward to this one!

So, download, print off or upload to your mobile device, and settle into a comfortable armchair as the nights draw in. Pour yourself a nice glass of something warming, and cosy down in front of the fire to an evening of exceptional steampunk writing and exploration!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Steampunk authors, stories and graphic novels

Time, yet again, for another trawl through the Aether, dragging the Net of Perspicacity behind the dirigable, searching for unknown or esoteric authors of steampunk.

Tucked away in the podsphere is this marvellous site, founded in the middle of last year. An absolute diamond, under creative-commons, Steampod is a podcasting site which includes audio stories and interviews, including with Natania Barron, author of the Aldersgate cycle of stories, using "the steam powered Victrola to listen to stories from the era called Steampunk."

More than this, Steampod asks:

Do you have a short story / diary entry you would like read? Would you like to have your voice recorded for the annals of time reading someone else’s story/diary entry? If so, I would like to hear from you! Please check out our Submission Guidelines.
More recently, the opportunity of assisting with the editing arose, and it appears that the position(s) have not yet been filled. This is a wonderful little site, providing an excellent gateway to the world of steampunk fiction which otherwise may not reach the wider world.

Please, visit the site, and if possible, donate to keep this marvellous gem going.

On a slightly different tack, the 3rd Volume of FreakAngels, the steampunk graphic series written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Paul Duffield will be published in November. What is FreakAngels? Well,

Do you know the 1950s story, "The Midwich Cuckoos?" It's a famous story by John Wyndham. It's been filmed three or four times. "Village of the Damned" being one of them. Think of "FreakAngels" like the kids from "Village of the Damned" grew up and became disaffected teenagers and 20-somethings. That's "FreakAngels."
What more do you need to know?
23 years ago, twelve strange shildren were born in England at exactly the same moment.

6 years ago, the world ended.

This is the story of what happened next.

Beautifully steamy and apocalyptic, FreakAngels is updated every Friday, and is FREE! Get over to the site now and start catching up!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

New Steampunk Art Competition

A new art competition, specifically focussed upon steampunk, has just been announced. Organised by Steam Gear Lab and GameX, submission date is 10 October 2009, with the winners being announced on 20 October 2009. The prizes are quite phenomenal, and include a 21.5-inch Alienware OptX™ HD Display, a DigiCel FlipBook, a Cintiq 12WX, and an Intuos4.

Come one, come all! GameX is proud to announce its Steampunk Art Competition at
this fall's show!

The Competition is designed for artist of all levels, from Pro to Student!GameX Steampunk Art Competition is a one-of-a-kind science fiction-fantasy art contest with an all-star line-up of industry judges in film, animation, games and comics include top artistic talent from companies such as Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Universal Studios, 2K Boston, Ubisoft and Turbine. Winning entries will be on display in the Artist Market area at GameX, October 23-25 in Philadelphia.

Artists are invited to create an original steampunk-themed artwork and submit their art entry online by Saturday, October 10, 2009. Presented by Steam Gear Lab, the GameX Steampunk Art Competition will award one Grand Prize Winner, one 2D Winner, one Digital 3D Winner, and one Physical Construction/Sculpture Winner. The contest Grand Prize Winner and three finalists will receive a combined total $10,000-worth of art tools, software and technology from contest sponsors Alienware, Wacom, Pixologic ZBrush, 3D Coat, Digicel and Faber-Castell.

Twenty art entries will make it to the finals and be displayed on the GameX online contest page, while the four winning works will be on display at GameX, October 23-25. Winners will be announced by Tuesday, October 20, 2009. GameX is the only show that is backed by NBC media. What does that mean for you? It means, your art work could be easily seen by thousands! Get your work seen! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to have tour talents seen by industry professionals, fans and fellow artist.

Contact our team today at art@gamexpo.us for more details.

This seems too good an opportunity to miss for you SP artistes out there, so what are you doing hanging around reading this? Get to the competition site and enter!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Steampunk Reviews and Steampunk Aristocrat

An interesting new blog has appeared very recently, bridging the gap between the blogosphere and audio-visual reviews.

Brass and Brown Leather aims to be a different kind of blog, produced by the Lady Victoria, "steampunk aristocrat and the creator of Steampunk Reviews" on YouTube. Her reviews seek to bring steampunk to the masses, and cover films, books, clothing, and everything across the steamy aether. Her latest brings a review of The Etched City by Australian KJ Bishop. Her next review features Abney Park, a band which needs no further introduction from me.

More than this - and here is where things become more interesting - Victoria

opted to create this little blog to give those who are interested a further look into the machinations of a woman who has made it her goal to incorporate the steampunk aesthetic into her lifestyle in whatever way possible.
And thus, two postings in, we begin to observe the transformation of Victoria into a full-fledged aristocratic 'punkette, and her journey should prove interesting, both for those embarking upon this journey themselves, and for those further along the jetstream.
A brave step, and one which should be supported heartily! I would urge experienced 'punks and 'punkettes to drop in with helpful hints and advice!

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Obscure Cities, or, Urbicande

To my unending shame, I realise that I have been remiss in my explorations. I return from a sojourn into the hinterland with news that many have already made the journey to the Obscure Cities.

A series of graphic novels originating in Belgium, the Urbicande is a long-running project by the genii Francois Buiton and Benoit Peeters which explores the wonderful societies of the architecturally unique cities of the title. The series is currently being updated and expanded, with new English translations, which will hopefully open up this incredible world to a wider audience.

Set in an alternative reality, and obsessively detailed and chronicled, each novel is set in a different city, each with its own dark secrets. Drawing on a vast array of sources, including art nouveau, Pugin, modernism, alternative histories, the industrial revolution, biology and more, Buiton and Peeters have created a deep, rich world which draws you in ever deeper. This world is consistent and solid, drawing upon real events and people to weave complicated and integrated tales across the novels, and is a joy to read as well as view. From airships to children integrated and welded into machines, to the elderly and insane living in the highest peaks of immense skyscrapers, this is a dark and labrynthine journey into the unknown.

A vast community of enthusiasts has grown amongst the aether, and I would urge you to explore them. Such wonders may be found here, here, here, and a good precis (with links) may be found here.

New Steampunk authors, blog, magazine!

Two excitingly new sites hove into view through the Clouds, semaphoring madly, both featuring new steampunk writing!

The first is a new blog, by Ms C Taylor, of New England, USA. She started writing several years ago and hasn't stopped, recently starting a new blog - http://asteampunkreverie.blogspot.com/ - dedicated to steampunk, writing in general, and writing in the steampunk genre.

Ms Taylor has

debated for some time as to whether or not to start one, but with my first steampunk novel completed and the second in the series underway, I thought it would be a good idea. As I've gone through researching my book, I've come across such a wealth of information on the victorian age, in addition to steampunk, that I thought I would share.
and her blog is welcome indeed. As she notes, "if you are a writer and have tried to get your works published, then you will know it is no easy feat", and she welcomes your comments, experiences and suggestions.
The blog also features the first few pages of Viridis, her steampunk romance with a mystery woven through. I look forward to seeing how this tale, and her blog, progress, as I'm sure this would be a help and haven for burgeoning writers of the steampunk genre.
More excitingly, she is launching a competition for budding authors! Please, visit, debate and engage!

Second to signal across the cirro-stratus is Mr Teador Reljic from the clouds above Malta. Schlock is a monthly anthology featuring short and serialised fiction, illustration and photography.
A monthly magazine produced by a genre-fiction collective from Malta, the aim is to publish original works of speculative fiction, exploring various subgenres through experimental fusions in style and format. Schlock’s contemporary themes take a playful and irreverent look at genre fiction, given individual flair by a monthly rotation of writers and artists.

The June 09 edition of Schlock Magazine is a steampunk themed issue:

Join us as we plumb the laudanum laced depths of Victoria’s brilliantine Empire, into a world of fairy tales and forgotten cities, imperiled queens and imperious concubines, a sensuous medley of mechanical ravishments unlike anything you’re likely to experience ever again.

Stories from our stately coterie of contributers are graced by illustrations and pictures courtesy of Ellen, Marco, Malicia and Mark. To top it all off, we’ve enlisted the help of Malta’s finest photographers Denise Scicluna (http://www.denisescicluna.com/), Matthew Attard Navarro(http://www.whoishutch.com/) and Mark Casha (also our resident designer) to realise a garden party of truly debauched proportions with participants drawn from our very own Schlock storytellers. Not forgetting especial thanks for the aesthetic prowess and multifaceted wardrobes of Mlles. Sarah Micallef, Carla Said, and Maria Muscat. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Stories include: Catharsis by Ellen Pace; The Prince and the Priest by Bettina Borg Cardona; Bee Brains by Peter Farrugia; All Due to Clockwork by Marco Attard; The Wind-Up Time Machine by Kris Green; The Architect’s Epiphany by Daniel Vella; A Simple Request by Teodor Reljic; Frou Frou Paints the Town Pink! by Lara Schembri; The Killing Machine by Michael Vella
Steampunk is alive and well in Malta, and this collective deserves some serious attention! Please, visit their site.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium

It is with very great pleasure that we present (finally!) the adventure of Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium.

Long in development by Robert Rodgers, Arcadia Snips has ventured into the light of day after much hard work. This is a great work, and I loved the initial manuscripts. Those who have seen deVorn in the various steampunk online forums over the past year will be aware of Arcadia!Arcadia Snips appears at an opportune time - members of the Smoking Lounge had recently been enquiring as to the state of affairs as to its author, as well as Arcadia herself. Personally, I have been looking forward to seeing the finished work, and am pleased that it has appeared, now with illustrations by Tod Wills.

Essentially, in the words of the author:

IN AN ERA of bygone anachronisms and steam-powered ambulatory engines, a sharp-witted street thief with a heart of semi-precious metal must match wits with a cryptic cryptozoologist, an amoral assassin, a masked menace, and a secret plot to bring the city she loves to its knees.

Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium is both a cautionary tale against reckless mathematics and an accurate historical account all rolled up into one. In fact, the story is so accurate that you might consider it more a history lecture than an illustrated novel.

Chapters are posted one by one every week on Monday until they’re all up; if you want to read the book before it’s completely online, stay tuned – we’ll soon be making a physical printed copy available for purchase.

The characters are incredibly well drawn, the plot well constructed, the world rich and deep, and the intelligent ideas come thick and fast whilst not overwhelming the story. If you enjoyed Stephen Hunt's Jackals novels, you will love this!

The book is being prepared for printing, and details concerning publication and how to order will be found here. In the interim, Arcadia Snips, while complete, as Mr Roberts indicates above, is being published weekly, each Monday, at http://arcadiasnips.com/. The first chapter may be found here.

I would urge you to take the opportunity to engage with the incredibly rich world of Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium, and wallow in the wonderful style of its author - amusing, clever, and thoroughly enjoyable!
Mr Rodgers is currently working on a more deiselpunk/noir novel, the first piece may be found here, and I look forward to more with relish!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Steampunk Stories

Another dip into the aether in search of online steampunk fiction brings another batch of authors into the dazzlingly bright light of scrutiny!

Natania Barron may already be known to some 'punks and 'punkettes out there as the author of the Aldersgate Cycle set in a fantasy steampunk world. As she is no stranger to the aether, you may also listen to her read her The Aldersgate and subscribe to the podcast Alderpod here. As she says:

I figured, in this age of podcasting, why not record what I do? I knew I wanted to share The Aldersgate with readers, and the best method for this, I believe, is the podcast format. It’s storytelling in its most raw form, the oral tradition.
Other projects currently include Pilgrim of the Sky, a novel about a young woman who stumbles into a strange clockwork world. Whilst this is going on, she has also been producing short stories, the latest of which is Castledeck and the Arabella available as a pdf here. I urge you to visit her site.

Also hiding amongst the clouds of the aethernet is the UK's Rooksmoor, a somewhat shy individual who has ventured forth upon The Skyborne Corsair, following two earlier steampunk stories, 'The Grey Commission' and 'Clasped in an Iron Hand'

[The Skyborne Corsair] is a steampunk pirate story. I wanted to have a story in which the pirates were not amoral as they tend to be in the novels of Jules Verne and George Griffith but were clearly evil. I also wanted to react against the racist approaches that Jess Nevins sees as contaminating the Edisonade stories.
Laudible aims, and I urge you to see if he is succeeding!

Meanwhile, for those who wish to try their hand at publication for the new Steampunk Tales on the iPhone, the submission guidelines are here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Online Steampunk Fiction, webnovels and Steampunk Tales

Continuing the aim to bring new and interesting, but little known, areas of steampunk fiction and art into the light, two 'new-to-me' tales emerged through the cloud as I flittered through the aethernet this morning.

The first is The Tales of the Inventor's War, the story of individuals involved in a world changing war, triggered by the sciences discovered decades earlier. Written by aspiring novellist Thomas Austin of San Jose, California, the webnovel is a part of his work on "creating maps and languages for use in the stories". Currently on Chapter Five, the story is

A techno-fantasy following the lives and adventures of individuals caught up in the events of a world changing war. A hundred years ago, a similar war, one that introduced new technologies and sciences, nearly tore the world apart. Now, secrets and superstitions threaten to start the war all over again. The story is currently focusing on one engineer’s apprentice, a young man named Samo, as he tries to solve his master’s murder and keep from losing his mind.
and can be followed at wordpress.com. The novel starts here .

The second is also a webnovel, Gloria Fidelis: Sic Transit Vera Mundi, a steampunk fantasy set in an alternate Earth. Written by JoyChaser, and currently on Chapter 29,

It is an age of steam and sorcery; magical study is faltering in the face of a limited supply of arcanum, a rare mineral that makes magic possible, and steam technology is on the rise. The world is faced with environmental problems posed by the Ink, a quasi-sentient, and very evil, byproduct of arcanum consumption. When Milagros Disraeli, a corrupt politician, tries to use the Ink to resurrect a long-dead entity, Charlemagne d'Etiene, the daughter of a rival politician, is dragged into Disraeli's plot. Can Charlemagne and her allies stop Disraeli before it's too late? Only time will tell.
Hosted on lunaticpress.com, the novel should be accessible here . However, despite it's entriguing premise, attempts to access the site have proven less than fruitful. Those interested may find more details here , although it may be that this story has run out of steam...

And, hot off the press, in a new move, demonstrating the vitality of Steampunk in the mainstream, Steampunk Publishing LLC has released on 8 June Steampunk Tales,

the world's first electronic pulp fiction magazine created exclusively for iPhone and iPod Touch! Emulating the style of the pulp adventure magazines of the 1920s and '30s, Steampunk Tales contains first-run, original fiction written by an A+ list of award-winning authors. Issue #1 contains 10 stories, each running between 4,300 to 11,000 words. Authors contributing to issue #1 include Jay Lake, Catherynne M. Valente, SatyrPhil Brucato and G.D. Falksen. The cover art (pictured above) was painted by popular artist Melita "missmonster" Curphy.
Advertised as the Penny Dreadful for your phone, the stories even come in "unique retro-futuristic Victorian styling never before seen in an eBook reader". As yet, I have no experience of this interesting development, nor, incidentally, of the iPhone, but prices and access is available via the website.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Steampunk Movie

Steampunks and Steampunkettes, afficionados of neo-Victorian visions of the future, alternative history enthusiasts will be all be aware of the place which such imaginings have within the wonderful world of the Silver Screen.

Mainstream blockbusters have increasingly taken on-board the visions of Steampunk, growing from a small beginning of independent movies such as the brilliant Perfect Creature and Steamboy to inclusion in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army , to full-blown inspired movies such as Wild Wild West and The Golden Compass and City of Ember and even influencing the new Sherlock Holmes. This is indeed to be welcomed, and encouraged!

However, in the shadow of these larger behemoths smaller creatures seek to find the light. The world of smaller independent steampunk films is flourishing in the gloom, and, much like the posts on lesser known steampunk literature, I endeavour to bring to your attention some of these marvellous projects.

I have posted elsewhere concerning the brilliant Wormtooth Nation, a student film which transcends all others, and which preceded the above mentioned City of Ember. Created by Geoff Boothby and Cullen Thomas, as a student project at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield Iowa, it is an alternative vision of A Midsummer's Night Dream:

Here in this underground complex reside the last remnants of the human world.
How we came here or why are questions that no longer have answers. It is recommended, should you wish to ask such questions, you do so quietly, and in places where you will not be overheard. We have been here a long time, and there are those in power whose desire is to remain, calmly, repairing this city and prolonging our continued existence until the final cave in ends us all in dirt and darkness.
The website for the project is The Sky is Free, where you can view the episodes and buy the DVD. I am extremely pleased to note that the team took home 6 awards from the recent Iowa Motion Picture Awards! Congratulations, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The most recent independent steampunk movie to struggle into the light is a work in progress, entitled, strangely enough, Steampunk - the movie. This is a 'all-hands to the pump' kind of operation, rooted in Lexington, Kentucky, and steered by Jaime Pittenger. The website is still under construction, but the first footage looks promising. As the site invites,

Welcome to the world of Steampunks.
To those of you familiar with the Steampunk aesthetic, think 90% punk and 10% steam. For those of you not familiar, get ready for a mind-blowing cultural experience. Imagine Victorian London or New York, a whole layer of gilded industrial ephemera.
Meet Willie Norrister, a god's honest bareknuckles boxer.
Ghery, a woman with fierce dreams and a fiery passion.
Hennison- a mystery and a secret. A loyal friend.
Stars- a chemist, a doctor, a lover, a dealer. A good man.
Peel back the layers of your modern world and find the soul beneath. Disregard what you know about history and concentrate on what you feel in your stomach. Get enmeshed in the past, the future, and in another world.
For those who wish to become involved with the project, the team have established a Facebook page which has already attracted some 68 members.
Expertise on this sort of independent production is invaluable, but help from any quarter is valuable - even down to graphic design, lighting, make-up, and website maintenance. I would urge you to contact them if you are attracted to being involved.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Steampunk fiction: The Time Machine of Guam

As has been pointed out elsewhere, there is an increasing awareness of steampunk literature, in the mainstream. However, there remain undiscovered delights in the clouds of the aethernet. I am endeavouring, as part of this Journal, to bring to wider attention little known works and works-in-progress which may be of interest to those outside of the sphere of influence of the behemoths known as Amazon and Google.

One such interesting site belongs to a fledgling author, whose name, due to the vagaries of the aethernet, may or may not be Ben Orchard.

Writing since a teenager, he admits his disorganisation, but, along with other short stories, continues to develop the concept central to his main story of The Time Machine of Guam. The Time Machine itself is not a conventional time-machine as generically understood, as the author states himself:

"The basis for the story is that at some point an empire is founded and called the Empire of Guam. The founding of this empire is done using the Time Machine, and the results are that most everyone ends up living in massive clock-work cities where the houses and shops are built on the gears and cogs of the clock-works, the people use the chains and pulleys that connect the cogs as transport, and all this is powered by massive steam-driven technology. Of course WHY this clock-work assembly exists or what purpose it serves is something that will be revealed in the story itself."
A fascinating concept, not wholly unrelated to Jay Lake's Mainspring, and it is to be hoped that the author will be able to complete this undertaking. Developments will be followed with great interest...

Crabfu - Steampunk Artiste Extraordinaire

Cruising through the aethernet a few weeks ago, I came across a marvellous gem hidden away in a corner "7th House on the left side, with the tree in front". Mr I-Wei Huang, otherwise known as Crab Fu, describes himself as, amongst other things, a crab trainer, worm counter, and cookie stuffer, but is, in fact, an artiste extra-ordinaire.

Even a short visit to his site will demonstrate the breadth of his interests, and the depth of his abilities. As the introduction to the Crabfu Steamworks notes:

"I'm an artist first and foremost, you can check out some of my artwork and animation Here. Doing something creative and unique is just part of my nature. I'm interested in old tech, but with a twist, in the spirit of steampunk. But form follows function, these ideas must work, otherwise it won't matter how cool they look. I wanted to build the first of its kind using the power of steam, and wacky / silly ranks high in my book...."
The Steamworks is a good place to see his works, but of particular interest to those wanting to imrpove their artistic skills in the steampunk genre will be How to Draw Steampunk Machines . As Mr I-Wei Huang states,

"The purpose of this web page is not to teach you how to draw. I will not be going though the technique, perspective, color, line weight, software, or any of the stuff you can easily surf up. This page is to inform artists who want to draw steampunk machines but don't quite understand how steam works. The focus is to add enough elements to your drawings, to make your steampunk machines more believable."

As the starting and ending images above indicate, this is a resource which fledgling steampunk artists should have stored in their 'Favourites'!
Not only does he draw, Mr I-Wei Huang is also an animator (examples of which may be found here),
and roboteer (winning the Gold Medal winner for Best of Show at RoboGames 2008)!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Sherlock Holmes, steampunk genius

Let me precis this by first stating that I am not a fan of Guy Ritchie's films. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was a tired retread of much better 1970s gangster films, and lacked originality, artistic quality, decent script, and, even worse, foistered the unwelcome visage of Vinnie Jones upon us, blinking into the magical light which cinema should be. Mr Ritchie's works since have failed to capture even the faux celebre which his first film achieved.

However, his latest directorial endeavour may yet change my mind. Sherlock Holmes may not be due for release until Christmas Day 2009, but it provides a means for the (re)birth of Mr Ritchie's directorial ambitions. Not only this, it seeks to continue the reintegration of Mr Robert Downey Jr into polite society following his performance in Iron Man.

The new interpretation of Mr Holmes is a far cry from that of the brilliant and lamented Mr Jeremy Brett. Mr Brett's interpretation was intergrally based upon the original Conan Doyle stories, with Holmes depicted as a manic-depressive, drug-addicted genius. The new Holmes is all action, dynamic, and bursting with energy, but still grounded in the pugilistic, fencing, and science investigative character of the original. Jude Law's interpretation of Watson is more akin to the original character than previous interpretations, which have seen him as a bungling side-kick, prone to errors, and unable to follow Holmes's trains of thought. Watson, remember, was a soldier, an army surgeon who had seen action in Afghanistan, and an intelligent man who completed his own investigations with Holmes.

For steampunks, the reimagining of Holmes provides the chance to see him with alternative technologies, an early 'utility' belt, and using an early electrical 'taser'. The trailer may be viewed on the Warner Bros. site, or below.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Rex Mundi

One of Johnny Depp's new productions, Rex Mundi is set in a world where "the Protestant Reformation failed, the Catholic Church has all the power of a secret police force, Europe is in the grip of feudalism and sorcerers stalk the street at night...”

Stemming from the Dark Horse stable, a sample of which which may be downloaded here, and the brainchild of Arvid Nelson and the pens of EricJ and Juan Ferreyra, Rex Mundi follows the adventures of Julien Saunière, a physician who stumbles onto a sinister conspiracy after a priest friend calls on him to investigate the theft of a medieval scroll. Set in Paris, this predates Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons (don't get me started on Dan Brown...), Rex Mundi is a thoroughly enjoyable adventurous mix of genres, with nods to Philip Marlowe, Indiana Jones (who makes a cameo) and Doc Savage. I hope the proposed film does it justice!

For some unfathomable reason, it prompts me to point you in the direction of Devlin Waugh as well...

Thursday, 23 April 2009

St George and the Steamechanised Dragon

Upon this Great traditional day of 23 April, which lies at the heart of any true Englishman, I present a new vision of the Dragonslayer St George, patron saint of (amongst others) Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal, Russia, and Palestine.

A Roman soldier from Palestine who was executed following torture upon the wheel of swords, George is most reknowned, through the tale brought back to Europe during the Crusades, for his slaying of a ferocious Dragon who terrorised the town of Silene.

Now, Cliff Cramp provides a wonderful new image of St George standing over the slain, steamechanised Dragon, his valet behind him, having used Technology to better the beast. Which, to my mind, smack a little of cheating....

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Smog, 1888

With thanks to Toby over at the Smoking Lounge, I point you, distinguished reader, to Smog, a fascinating world drawing on many influences, including Cthulhu and Tim Powers' Anubis Gates.

A Victorian world where Victoria herself is protected by Oberon, Lord of the Faeries; where automaton soldiers protect the Palace; where Lord Carter's mastery of necromancy has led to private armies and a labour force of zombies; where the Black Pharoah's Ship sits ominously brooding upon the Thames; where the massive glass Embassy of an alien race sits in Kensington Gardens; and Scotland Yard Zeppelins come across impressive transatlantic ships from New York and ensure the upper class is safe; steamtrams clutter Fleet Street; and electric lights fight the evening gloom of the smog which penetrates every nook and cranny, spreading tentacle-like, engulfing the darkness.

The website is a beautiful construction, containing news, forums, downloads, back-story, and a link to the store where you may purchase items including models of key characters, some of whom you see here.

The Adventures and Musings of Ms Angelica Boron, Steampunk Alchemist

A fascinatingly new Journal has made its appearance on the Aether, being the musings and occurences in the life of one Ms Anglelica Boron, steampunk alchemist, recently relocated to an undisclosed location from Minniwell.

As she settles into her new home, Ms Boron is in the midst of establishing her lab in the cellar, planting seedlings, and exploring her new locale - including the Prestidigital Datamancery and Paraphrenalic Technofetishism Shoppe. Some mysterious happenings are intriguing Ms Boron - such as the parcel of exotic seeds arrived from Kobayashi Saburo - and new acquantances like Mikaeus and his crab-like living hat. Should he be trusted, or has living in a small town left Ms Boron "a little secretive"?

Ms Boron invites "everyone... to post comments and interact" with her and take part in her explorations, either at the blog or via brassgoggles . Adventures await!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A little old-time Razzamatazz!

Again, a little tardy on this, given my journeys around this sceptred isle in the past few weeks, for which I can only profer my heartfelt apologies!

Unfortunately, however, these journeys did not enable the inclusion of "the world's greatest showcase of international burlesque talent" which is the London Burlesque Festival .

Now in its third year, the festival ran from 1-5 April, and included sultry song, sizzling strip tease, vaudeville variety and Burlesque pageantry, with established stars too many to mention (including Honey Moon, Ivy Paige, Mademoiselle Katarina, Millicent Binks, and Dita von Teese) and the rising stars of ‘Neo Burlesque’ competing in the Burlesque ‘Battle Royale’, a showcase and competition featuring 25 of Burlesque’s newest starlets & troupes from across the UK.

With music by Jarmean & DJ Jean-Paul Séculaire, Desmond O’Connor & DJ Chaz Royale, the festival is rapidly becoming a mainstay on the burlesque calendar, and provide the chance to step back from the hurly-burly of the modern, depressing, world, and into the glamourous eternal theatre of light and happiness!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Maker Faire - steampunk & retro-future heaven

A little tardy on this, but MAKE magazine held their first ever 'Maker Faire' over the weekend past, as part of the Newcastle ScienceFest - a 10 day festival celebrating creativity and innovation.

For those unaware out there, Maker Faire seeks to inspire, inform, connect and entertain thousands of Makers and aspiring Makers of all ages and backgrounds through the public gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, students, authors and commercial exhibitors.

The presence of firebreathing steampunk dragons and high tech robots wandering the streets brought a strange collision of a past that never was with the retro-future in a manner close to my heart!

Footage from the weekend is available on the BBC website:

As MAKER make clear, Newcastle should be held dear to Steampunks' hearts - "Innovation has always been at the heart of the city. Newcastle's Mosley Street was the first in the world to be lit by electricity and famous inventors such as Charles Parsons, William Armstrong, George Stephenson and Joseph Swan have all lived or worked in the city. Today, Newcastle continues to inspire inventors, artists and scientists alike. Johnathon Ive, designer of the iPod studied at one of the city's universities and scientists at the Centre of Life were the first in the world to successfully clone a human embryo!"

Perhaps worth putting in the diary for next year - having been to the 2010 event, I can heartily recommend a visit!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Rise of the Iron Moon

A visit to one of the omnipresent book stores over the weekend enabled a new (for me) authorial discovery.

As many will know, the past few years have seen a rise in the number of steampunk novels as the social consciousness of SP increases. Not only have older, established, authors such as Thomas Pynchon leapt onto the rumbling horseless carriage as it steams onwards, but newer authors have been breaking onto the scene, such as Toby Smith and his phenomenal Space Captain Smith series.

Stephen Hunt hit the scene with For the Crown and the Dragon back in 1994, but he is back with a new series of novels, set, according to the publishers, in a "Victorian-style world", in a typical manner designed to appeal to a mass a market as possible (the blurb also includes references to Charles Dickens) without alienating anyone by referring to this new series as 'steampunk'. However....

The new series kicks off with The Court of the Air (2007), followed by The Kingdom Beyond the Waves (2008), and now The Rise of the Iron Moon (2009). I am currently sourcing the first of the series, but am ensconced in the second, whereby Prof Amelia Harsh "is obsessed with finding the lost civilisation of Camlantis, a legendary city from pre-history that is said to have conquered hunger, war and disease". The first in the series tells the tale of two orphans, a murder, and the shadowy Court of the Air of the title; the third in the series relates the prelude to war against an army of near-unkillable beasts serving an ancient evil with a terrible secret, with the only hope being a strange little royalist girl and the last, desperate plan of an escaped slave...