Thursday, 30 December 2010

Steampunk Review:

The Landships of Lincoln – The story of Lincoln's part in the creation of the Worlds first fighting tanks. (Sn Ed) By Richard Pullen Published in 2007 ISBN 9781873257791
With SteamPunkers looking to arm themselves with a pistol or rifle for personal protection or for piracy but oddly not war! This should inspire your imagination.
'The Landships of Lincoln' chronicling the William Foster & Co Ltd military vehicles, and the engineers behind them, with interviews from the factory workers and those that visited the works. This is not a book about those people that imagined in theory the invention of the Tank, like the predictions of H. G. Wells in the early 'Boar War' of the concept of 'Land Ironclads', no this is about engineers and designers of an armoured trench crosser(necessity being the mother of invention), a weapon that could end the war.

Steampunk Review: The Gangs of New York

The Gangs of New York ( An informal history of the underworld) By Herbert Asbury,
First published in 1927. ISBN 0099436744

Showing the darker side of of New York's history, so much so that street names and places have been renamed, and corrupt Politicians and Police have been forgotten!
From 1838 up to 1925 with foot notes about the 1700's as well, full of colourful characters that New Yorkers have unnoticed for to long. Looking at the rise and fall of the district known as the 'Five Points' a dismal slum.

Charles Dickens who visited and chronicled his observations for publication in 'American Notes' wrote:-
“Let us go on again, and … plunge into the Five Points….We have seen no beggars in the streets by night or day, but of other kinds of strollers plenty. Poverty, wretchedness, and vice are rife enough where we are going now.

This is the place; these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with, dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays.”

White-chapel in London features in Charles Dickens's novels 'Oliver Twist' and 'Pickwick Papers' is upstaged by the 'Five Point' for its slum and villainy!

The Martin Scorsese film 'Gangs of New York' centres on only a small period of time around the American civil war Riots in New York, with a lot of characters based on real historical people.

The colourful history was by and large gained from the Newspapers of the time, and thus prone to sensationalism, but there is no getting away from the rottenness and vile depravity of New York's slums and their gangs with their political masters.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Campaign to Bridge the Gap!

Bridging the Gap! (part two and ¼)

Being a SteamPunk correspondent (sometimes undercover), it would be a good start to go to some Steam Rallies and working Steam engine open days..............more to follow..soon

Victorian Information Revolution

A fellow SteamPunk had found this Clip The Victorian Information Revolution

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Campaign to Bridge the Gap!

Bridging the Gap! (part two)

My am is to target real Steam events (for next Year 2011), Steam modeling magazines, Traction Engine owners clubs, Heritage railways, Steam Museums (like pumping stations), with Introductory Letters, and articles to bring the different groups together with SteamPunk.

I do not know what the average age of a SteamPunker is – maybe 17 to 23 ? But a lot of an older generation are the engineers and custodians of our Industrial Heritage, they in turn show to their Grandchildren the wonders of STEAM power.

If we all have a conman interest then should we not help each other out?!

More thinking to follow....

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Campaign to Bridge the Gap!

Bridging the Gap! (part one)

SteamPunk: like an explosion on the verge of happening.

From the generation of 'The Young Controller' with his real passion for trains and steam engines (like any little boy of that age), all the way to the fond memories of steam from our Grandparents, and Great-Grandparents - the nostalgic past of our engineering greatness spanning over one-hundred years, from giant beam engines powering our industry to steam locomotives on roads and rails.

What of the youth of today, the teenagers and the twenty somethings, rebelling against authority and consumerism, and not just standing on street corners intimidating passersby, will they bridge the generational gap?

With the arrival of the myriad of SteamPunks consisting of Literary fans, Artisans, Contraptors, Idealists in decorum, Fashion enthusiasts of both neo-Victorian and SteamPunk apparel and steam devotees, there is hope to bridge the gap.
Combining Jules Verne's imagination of the1800's (much like the late Walt Disney's imagineers) and Victorian engineering you can create artwork and contraptions, and even Life-styles.
This misplaced generation are finding out for themselves, the skills and crafts of an older generation, the cut of a suit and the allure of the corset, the appreciation of physical machines and mechanical apparatus by reinventing the past, and recycling a future that never was.

With this mixture of sensibilities and ideologies a new sub-culture has been forming, linked by the virtual communities on the internet, now like an explosion on the verge of happening, SteamPunks can be spotted out in the open with their telltale artful Victorian clothes and good manners. Look for them among the traction engines and steam-rollers, among great beam-engines and steam locomotives, on omnibuses and trams, in the grand halls and botanical gardens keeping alive a very different age of Steam!

For the uninitiated, - SteamPunk is the amalgamation of two branches of the same fictional genealogical tree, Scientific Romances the proto-Science Fiction from the 1800's to the early 1900's, and modern authors of a type of Science Fiction using the setting of an altered historical past, usually the Victorian era, SteamPunk has become a sub-culture of craftsmen working in brass and copper and recycled materials; engineers and inventors taking our present technology back in to the past, for instance a computer keyboard that has been re-engineered and remodeled using brass and steel and now its keys are those resembling the round keys of an Victorian typewriter; taking the modern Japanese sub-culture for young adults of CosPlay - the fun of dressing-up to show what type of devotee you are, has grown in to an exhibition of photographic celebrity, (even the now accepted video-gaming culture, has online avatars with SteamPunk fashion accessories).

I hereby invite you to Join the Campaign to Bridge the Gap!

Campaign details to follow.....


The SteamPunk Empire's devoted servant and protector

The Steam Brigadier

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A proper SteamPunk Tale!

While doing some background research on the British Empire, and the planed endeavor of the 'Cape to Cairo Railway ' (I think the Great War got in the way of that being finished), and its visionary Cecil Rhodes. His first draft of his Will & testament, asked of certain fellows to start a Secret Society to keep the British Empire going on in to the future, and for it to be the sole power and peacekeeper in the World!

This all lead to a novella by John Crowley first printed in 1989 called 'Great Work of Time' (based on what the Will & testament called for), that now can be found in a collection entitled 'Novelties and Souvenirs'. And should arrive by post in under a weeks time!

Time travel, and the British Empire written in the 1980's, that sounds like proper SteamPunk to me!!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

SteamPunk for the young at heart

A DVD review for those little SteamPunkers out there, and those who are still young at heart.

The UK release of the childrens' cartoon series 'Sherlock Hound' DVD box set.
Following a second viewing of all 26 episodes that rekindled my delight with this childrens' animated TV series from 1984 Japan.

The charming characters are depicted as anthropomorphic dogs, save Sherlock Hound who is Fox-like, and Professor Moriarty who is most definitely a Wolf. Being Japanese animation (know as Anime) this series also has a pedigree of one the finest Animators and animation directors the world has ever known 'Hayao Miyazaki' who had full control over the following episodes:

Ep. 3. Martha's Small Case ( Eng. title A Small Client ),
Ep. 4. Mrs. Hudson's Hostage Incident ( Eng. title Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage ),
Ep. 5. The Blue Ruby ( Eng. title The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle ),
Ep. 9. Treasures of the Seabed ( Eng. title Treasure Under the Sea ),
Ep. 10. The Major Dogfight of Dover Strait ( Eng. title The White Cliffs of Dover ),
Ep. 11. The Enormous Saving Box ( Eng. title The Sovereign Gold Coins ).

There are umpteen examples of turn of the Century vehicles, ranging form early motorcars to roadsters, blimps to airships to biplanes, steam locomotives, traction engines, and dreadnoughts, but this is the age of invention, and in the series Sherlock Hound's nemesis is Professor Moriarty a thief and an inventor of marvels that convey him and his henchmen, in the air, on land and above and beneath the sea.
These ingenious SteamPunk vehicles are mostly coloured in bright pink. I would speculate that this could have been to catch young childrens' attention, but I like to think it is that this garish colour 'Pink' that was considered by the Victorian's to be only suitable for men (that' right Boys had pink and Girls had blue, in that era) shocking that it was, and would be another way Professor Moriarty would be able to terrorize polite and genteel Victorian society.

It was good to see many seances at his residence depicting Sherlock using chemistry to aid his deductions, and the occasional violin playing too! Foggy London also featured in episodes, but I found the change of atmosphere to the countryside of just one episode to a bleak industrial town called 'Gillmore's valley', with its ankle-deep muddy roads and Armaments factories with the wealthy owner's large house over looking the town from the hill-top. The workers children being given medical attention by Dr. Watson, add to that, that the Factories owner's son is more concerned with the health and welfare of the workers and their families than inheriting his father's fortune. ( in the 11th. Episode 'The Enormous Saving Box' ( Eng. title The Sovereign Gold Coins ).

In episode 21 'Singing! Growing Mechanic Maneuvers' ( Eng. title The Disappearance of the Splendid Royal Horse ) has the introduction of a Arthur J. Raffles like thief in London, and puts Moriarty in disgrace. With flash-backs done as sketches in sepia, a delightful and charming tale.

I found episode 22 'The Chaotic Large Airplane Race' ( Eng. title Disturbance, The World Flight Championship! ), so reminded me of the 1965 film 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' Terry-Thomas could have easily been Moriarty intending to sabotage his way to first place in this esteemed airplane race, of a story.

In 'The London Sky Battle' ( Eng. title The Rosetta Stone ) episode 19 set in the British Museum when the Rosetta Stone is levitated away by a theft, many countries' who lay claim to the stone are under suspicion. It pokes fun at British Imperialism and how many nations' treasures are in British museums.
I will leave you with episode 1 'His Name: Detective of Rumor' ( Eng. title The Four Signatures ) in which Sherlock is a passenger on a ship that is attacked by Pirates, and with the aid of a fellow passenger a Dr. John Watson tries to foil their plans. What more could a child ask for!