Traveler's Steampunk Blog

res ætheris exploramus

Summer time and we are on holiday

Posted By on 2. Juli 2015

Hello all,

the Traveler’s Steampunk Blog is taking a break for the better part of July, see you in a few weeks, in August at the latest.
Enjoy the summer, we are melting over here in Europe at the moment!

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Steampunk Coca Cola

Posted By on 26. Juni 2015

If anybody still had any doubt that Steampunk was not yet firmly entrenched in the cultural mainstream, I present Exhibit A: The Steampunk Coca Cola spot:


Coca Cola | Steampunk Coke (DC) from Max Tsui on Vimeo.

Full credits for this little jewel can be found here:
chriskerstan.de/portfolio/steampunk-coke/

Even better, my friend, the right honourable Admiral Ravensdale was once again involved. Admiral, could you please tone down your awesome? This is getting unreal!

Book Feature and Guest Post – Iron and Blood by Gail Z Martin

Posted By on 22. Juni 2015

Today is one of the rare occasions when I welcome an actual guest-author for a blog post on The Traveler’s Steampunk Blog. It is Gail Z Martin, best-selling author of The Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga.

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Here is a short introduction to Iron and Blood:

New Pittsburgh, 1898: a crucible of invention and intrigue, the hub of American industry at the height of its steam-driven power.

Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, sons of New Pittsburgh and heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company, travel the world to secure unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons. Smuggling a small package as a favour for a Polish witch should have been just another mission, but things have taken a turn for the violent.

Meanwhile, in the abandoned mines beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging to feed in the smoky city known as ‘hell with the lid off.’

When hired killers come after Jake and a Ripper-style killer leaves the city awash in blood, Jake, Rick and beloved cousin Nicki realize that dark magic, vampire power struggles and industrial sabotage are just a prelude to a bigger plot that threatens New Pittsburgh – and the world. Stopping that plot will require every ounce of Jake’s courage, every bit of Rick’s cunning, every scintilla of Nicki’s bravura and all the steam-powered innovation imaginable…

 

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But enough of what I have to say, please give all your attention to Gail Z Martin introducing her novel:

The Pittsburgh of Iron and Blood

By Gail Z. Martin

Iron and Blood, the new Steampunk novel co-written with my husband, Larry N. Martin, is set in an alternative history Pittsburgh, circa 1898. Creating the world for the series has been enormous fun, especially since we grew up near Pittsburgh and lived in the city for ten years. But what really struck me as we worked on the book was how ideally suited Pittsburgh is for Steampunk, and how much of its Victorian history survives.

There’s no debating that Pittsburgh’s star has dimmed since its heyday at the end of the 1800s and the early half of the Twentieth Century. It may surprise some readers to realize just what a big deal big city Pittsburgh was in the era of the Robber Barons and the Age of Steam. The city was the epicenter of heavy manufacturing, supplying steel for military and industrial uses. Coal, railroads, banking, and newfangled inventions prospered, thanks to the genius–and rapacity–of men like Carnegie, Frick, Mellon and Westinghouse. Immigrants from all over Europe flocked to the city to work in its mines, mills and factories.

Wealth followed, at least for industrialists like Carnegie and his lieutenants. Although some of the grand homes, including that of Carnegie himself, have been razed or repurposed over the years, many beautiful homes from Pittsburgh’s golden age remain, as do public buildings with remarkable period architecture, such as the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Shadyside Presbyterian Church and St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. While some of the massive steel mills that made that wealth possible have also been torn down, the remaining gargantuan complexes, like the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, invoke a sense of awe at the sheer scale and hubris of the undertaking.

The Pittsburgh of the late 1890s was a study in contrasts between the sooty miners and millworkers with their Old World accents and traditions and the newly-minted upper and middle classes who took their social and fashion cues from New York. It was a time of invention and iconoclastic ideas, of heady expectations and seething resentments. Ethnicities long at war with each other in Europe now rubbed shoulders in the mines and mills every day. People clung dearly to the traditions, language, religion and customs that reminded them of home, even as those factors were transformed by their new environment. The world of the late 1890s had never seemed more wide open and full of opportunity, and at the same time, constantly in flux.

Pittsburgh was also a hot spot for innovation. George Westinghouse at one point considered collaborating with genius Nikola Tesla, then the two went their separate ways. In Iron and Blood, that collaboration becomes reality, giving birth to the Tesla-Westinghouse Corporation, a powerhouse of inventions and skunkworks-style off-the-books laboratory. New manufacturing techniques sprang from the companies that would eventually become companies like Alcoa and US Steel.

 

 

About the authors:

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.

Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.
Find them at www.JakeDesmet.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin free excerpts, Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

 

And some additional information:

This guest post is part of the Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event, which includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts (such as the one here) and author Q&A on 28 awesome partner sites around the globe.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

Iron & Blood will be available from July 7h.

I hope you enjoyed this guest-post and I thank the authors for letting me be part of the blog tour.

Postapocalyptic Steampunk Arthouse Project

Posted By on 19. Juni 2015

This is another gem that came in through the ætherbox.

Olive

Long after the last great cities have crumbled, Eugene is the last botanist on the planet,
in fact he may very well be the last of our ill-fated species.

Trapped indoors by an endless winter storm since he was a child, Eugene has but one friend:

OLIVE – his undersized, undernourished tree that is overborne with pesky flies. Together, inside of their ramshackle cottage built of spare parts, apocalyptic debris, and plain ol’ rubbish, their companionship has stood the test of time and decay.

But, as Olive’s sparse leaves begin to dry up and fall, this bond is in peril. As their only source of water, an intricate mechanical aqueduct clogs up and grinds to a stop, Eugene must meticulously clean and rebuild the aqueduct – racing to save life on Earth as we know it.

What an interesting and postapocalyptic-steampunk idea. I also like the quasi-ice-age setting. I added my own thoughts and story to a German steampunk universe set during an ice age on earth.

The story is intriguing, as is the concept artwork:

Olive - Concept Art

And this is the pitch, some background and the story behind the story and the movie:

Also, this is a very different take on the postapocalyptic and Steampunk settings, because Steampunk is rather optimistic in general but this project is set against a pretty harsh background and it is set in the distant future without any postapocalyptic or steampunk high-tech. From the information taht is available at the Kickstarter page, the aqueduct and the whole cottage is made from debris and junk. Ancient material and if there is any high tech somewhere, it has long since stopped functioning.

So, Olive promises to be a very uniqque and different movie experience, and, if you check their site, it is backed by an amazing array of talented people from the business. I am looking forward to seeing it completed. If you are interested, lend your support here: Olive – Kicktarter.

 

Rest in Peace, Christopher Lee

Posted By on 11. Juni 2015

2015 is not a good year for living legends, it seems. Christopher Lee has passed on at the venerable age of 93.
Christopher Lee was one of those actors that do not need an introduction and he has very likely played more iconic roles over a greater period of time than any other actor in living memory, if ever.
Hammer Films’ Dracula, Saruman, Count Dooku, to just name a few. On top of that, he had his own heavy metal project and was with British Intelligence during World War 2.
Rest in Peace, Sir, your memory will live on, you will be sorely missed. Send my best regards to your friend Peter Cushing.

 

Christopher Lee

Aether: The Rise of Specter – An Indie Steampunk Epic!

Posted By on 10. Juni 2015

When this blog was young, I featured a short piece called Lightning in the Bottle in two separate postings. Now, almost five years later, the creative head of Lightning in the Bottle, Drew Hall, has contacted me again.
He has teamed up with some amazing talent such as Alex Funke, Oscar winner for VFX on Lord of the Rings, to create an original Steampunk universe for the movie Aether: Rise of Specter.
The movie is not based on an alternate version of Earth but some other place entirely, with no connection to Earth at all. As Drew says:

Aether is a steampunk inspired science fiction film set in a world of flying cities, massive airships, and ghost towns. On the tiny island of Deos, the citizens in the small town of Specter struggle to survive, as the wealthy floating city of Wavelinde looms overhead serving as a constant reminder of oppression. Meanwhile, a storm is building in the savage mines held by the Bruewen. War is coming.

I have seen the trailers, outtakes and behind the scenes you can find at Drew’s Vimeo Channel, and I must say, they look amazing, the artwork, too!

I am talking about this (it’s just an appetiser!):

AETHER: The Rise of Specter – Official Trailer from Drew Hall on Vimeo.

And here is a gallery with concept art and stills:

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And now, make your way to their website and find out more, there is so much more! Let yourselves be amazed, this looks like the kind of indie Steampunk movie I have been waiting for, an original setting, stunning costumes and FX, mystery, adventure… Can’t wait to see the final product!

Space 1889: The Secret of Phobos – Support this Movie!

Posted By on 3. Juni 2015

As I mentioned in the podcast two days ago, there is a Space 1889 movie in the making in Viernheim, Germany and there is a Kickstarter project for the movie, please lend your support!

Here is some more info on what the project and the movie are all about:

Space 1889 is THE original Steampunk roleplaying game, created bei Frank Chadwick in 1988. Or rather: it’s “Steampunk light” the way you might know it from the works of Jules Verne, which makes it easier to turn into a movie than typical Steampunk stories. In the world of Space 1889 the colonial powers of Earth – thanks to Thomas Edison’s invention, the Ether Propeller – were able to conquer other planets of our solar system and make contact with the lords of the Mars channels and Lizardmen on Venus. The new edition of Space 1889 was funded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign by Clockwork Publishing some time ago. It’s the ideal setting for adventurous stories in a streampunky sci-fi setting.

In „Secret of Phobos“ you will, of course, get a short introduction to the world of Space 1889 in which Thomas Edison and Jack Armstron reached Mars with the help of their spaceship prototype nearly 20 years before the main story-arc begins. These two iconic characters will be important to the plot, but the main story is about a young female adventurer, Armstrong’s niece. Together with her Martian butler and a young writer she gets caught in a huge conspiracy: her uncle’s and Edison’s mistakes from the past make her a target for a dark cult and the last hope for a Martian princess. Our heroes’ journey leads them from Venus back to Earth, to Mars and finally to Mars’ eerie moon Phobos. It features ancient secrets, wild chases, dinosaurs, drama and and a well dosed portion of humor – as we are fully aware that this is a very low budget project and those shouldn’t take themselves too serious.

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Of course, there is more info available at the Kickstarter webpage.

Now, I am really excited about this movie, I have played the role playing game and have also been involved with the Space 1889 & Beyond series of novels. During this involvement, I had the opportunity to interview Frank Chadwick, the original inventor and author of Space 1889.

So, I decided to ask the people responsible for the movie for an interview to help promote it, they reacted enthusiastically to my request and it is with great pleasure I now give you the interview with Mháire Stritter and Nico Mendrek:

 

Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Mháire: I’m a freelance journalist and translator, studied Sinology (Chinese) for 6 years and have been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary for all my life. I love fantasy and science fiction worlds, costumes, writing story-telling – and for about six years now I’ve been on camera nearly every day. My hobbies are roleplaying, both tabletop and live, reading, collecting and painting (and very occasionally playing with) miniatures, building costumes and PC-Gaming.

Nico: I’m a video journalist (simultaneously editor/cameraman/video editor) who tried to study biology once. I’ve been working for many German TV networks as a freelancer, then I was in charge of the online video department of pcgames.de for a couple of years … and now I am making a lot of videos for the German pen and paper “industry”. I’ve been into filmmaking since school, produced and directed a number of very cheap films and webseries and was lucky enough to even do so as part of my regular job!

 

Since the film is set in an RPG universe, when did you start role playing / life role playing?

Mháire: I started tabletop-roleplaying when I was about 12. My brother and I found a box for the German roleplaying game The Dark Eye and simply tried it out. And then I kind of never quit – I also played a lot of Shadowrun in my teenage years, several editions of DnD, a few systems written by friends or by me and the occasional session of Cthulhu, The One Ring, Apocalypse World, Dark Heresy and more. I first tried LARP when I was 15 and the first game was simply awesome (I ran with a pack of other teenage girls with ugly home-crafted weapons and improvised costumes, but it was GREAT) and the second was terrible and then it took years before I tried it again in my early twen-years. I’m not too much into the fighting anymore, but love to sew and craft costumes and really immerse myself in a fantasy world.

Nico: My story is quite similar. Just add 3 years to the age and skip the sewing and crafting part. The bit with a pack of teenage girls is true, though.

 

Did you know about steampunk before you came into contact with Space: 1889?

Mháire: Definitely. I do have a love for Victorian fashion – originally without gears 😉 – since my mother runs a small costume studio and used me as a model for some very lovely gowns. You’re probably going to see at least one of those in the movie. And then I gradually got to know about Steampunk – thanks to webcomics, friends and cosplayers on conventions. For myself I still prefer a simpler, more realistic version of Victorian fashion, but I’m totally in love with and amazed by the attention for detail and the simple joy of playing around with ideas that are part of this community.

Nico: I knew about it, but I didn’t really come in touch with the steampunk scene until recently. You can only be at home in so many scenes and there was already The Dark Eye, Star Wars, Discworld … But Jules Verne will always be among my top three favourite authors, if that counts.

 

Have you been in touch with Space: 1889 fans worldwide concerning this project?

Mháire: Since we work closely with Clockwork publishing who did the reboot of Space 1889, we do have connections to fans abroad. Nico can probably say something more precise about it 😉

Nico: Well … there is of course the creator Frank Chadwick who had to approve of the project (and luckily did). Recently we met Timothy Brown who also worked on Space 1889 back then and is a backer now. Furthermore there are some Steampunk fans in England who will appear as actors in the film.

 

When did you first have the idea for the movie?

Mháire: I can’t quite remember when we first talked about it. I think it was around when the German version of the new Space 1889 was published. We’re friends with the people from Clockwork and it was simply like: “Hey, that’s a great setting for a film what do you think?” Again, Nico probably has a loooot more details since he’s the actual filmmaker.

Nico: Actually back then I said to Patric of Clockwork: I’ll help you with the videos for the Space 1889 crowdfunding – but the next Kickstarter will be a movie in that setting. So the idea is close to two years old and we’ve been working on the script, effects and the teaser since then.

 

Has any sort of  production other than the trailer already happened?

Mháire: Mostly work on the script and tests for effects. Some of them are the few CGI-effects we will have to use, to pin a convincing Mars over the landscape of Iceland for instance. Others are works on miniatures and tiny Martian landscapes.

 

And this is the trailer:

 

And here are two behind the scenes photos from the trailer:

 

Have you done similar projects (maybe on a smaller scale) in the past?

Mháire: We made a fan-film for the German roleplaying game The Dark Eye: Leuenklinge. From the first day of shooting to the final version it took us … four years? I think. We shot on a lot of different locations with a lot of people who gathered for a weekend on a castle or in some woodland area in the boondocks of Germany. Everyone brought their own costume, we often had to improvise practically everything and it only worked out because everyone spent a lot of time and enthusiasm on the project. There was NO budget …but we made it. And it’s actually not quite bad! It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle with very different kinds of effects (or no effects), music by at least three different people and if you pay attention you’ll notice the dwarf is a different person behind the beard every second scene – but it’s finished. It’s even got fans. A few hundred. Just imagine what we could do with a bit of money 😉

Nico: And then there were two even cheaper discworld fan films for which we even had a contract with Terry Pratchett, a recent horror parody shot in under twelve hours and a Star Wars: The Old Republic webseries we made for pcgames.de ..

 

Was it hard to recruit actors (or did you have to drive aplicants away with a big stick)?

Mháire: Thanks to Leuenklinge we already have a handful of people who can act on camera. It’s a bit harder to find actor’s outside of Germany for the Brits and French characters in the film. So, it’s neither that we’re swamped with actors nor that we’re desperate to find someone.

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What locations are used in the movie?

Mháire: That depends on the success of the Kickstarter. We plan to use the Azores for Venusian jungles – there’s beautiful rainforest on the islands and during off-season flights are very cheap, while the weather stays mild. The Martian drylands will be shot on locations in former Yugoslavia where several European “Western”-movies were made, but we will probably also use the Taklamakan and the Gobi since we plan to take the Silkroad to China for another project. And while we’re there (and brought along some actors) …

Nico: Of course the interiors of space ships will have to be build – but we have already chosen which attic to use for that – unless we reach the stretchgoal that enables us to build that set into a mobile home. And then there are many Victorian-looking environments in which we want to shoot scenes on Earth. One very generous person even offered us his home for a couple of scenes: A large country house with its own park that was used for tv movies a lot of times.

 

Have you promoted the movie anywhere before you started the Kickstarter?

Mháire: We did have the trailer up and promoted it on conventions and online before we decided on the Kickstarter campaign. So, yes, we did, but not at the level of the campaign.

 

Have you tried to find out the chances of success (perhaps based on the responses of people you shared the idea with) before you started the campaign?

Mháire: Well, we tried, but you never know. Crowdfunding is basically testing the chance of success in a make-or-brake kind of way.

 

In case you really overshoot your target by a lot, would you consider subtitles in more languages?

Mháire: Of course! That is probably going to be the first stretchgoal after the ones we currently offer.

Nico: I think it’s already possible if we reach the second or third stretchgoal, to add at least French and Spanish subtitles as well.

 

And the final one:

Are you planning on showing the finished movie in an actual cinema, too?

Mháire: Yes, we are. As part of the premiere – the plan is to rent a cinema for a private showing. So yes, it will be in an actual cinema. No, it probably won’t be shown there regularly ;).

 

Thank you so much for your time, Mháire and Nico, and the efforts you are putting into this project.

And now, everybody, go and support The Secret of Phobos.

 

All images © Nico Mendrek and used with kind permission.

Non-Euclidean Æthercast #31 – German Steampunk, I say!

Posted By on 1. Juni 2015

After more than five years I can finally say  the Steampunks in Germany have gotten their gears together and are moving things. The last 12 months have seen a lot of events and other things going on. The German scene is becoming ever more active and also reaching out into the Steampunk world at large.
Please enjoy my happy rant!

Subscribe on iTunes

LZ-X1 Württemberg_Werft

And these are the two projects I mentioned that need your support:

Ameryll Role Playing Game:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2110328990/steampunk-ameryll-pandp-rollenspielsystem



Space: 1889 Movie

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/288270129/space-1889-the-secret-of-phobos-a-victorian-sci-fi

 

 

Help Victor Sierra produce their third album! Go here! Donate!

Posted By on 26. Mai 2015

My friends from Victor Sierra are at it again, meaning they are ready to produce their third album. Since I am a massive fan and have enjoyed their previous two albums and the Yultide release of 2014, of course I am supporting their latest album as well.

And so should you!

In the words of some mysterious narrator:

They travel your world… They travel your space… They travel your time… and perhaps you attended one of their gigs: in British North America… in Deadlands… in New YiddishLand, or even in the Austrasian Empire… 2015 will see the release of Victor Sierra’s third album and we’re sure you want to be part of it because if we can make it with you we’ll make it everywhere!

Help them keep traveling! View the message and lend your support!

Go here to donate and claim your perk: http://igg.me/p/victor-sierra-third-album-in-sept-2015/x/325442

 

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Steamfantasy – The Dwarves of Demrel

Posted By on 20. Mai 2015

Check this out:
A very dark, gritty, and slightly steampunk looking fantasy movie about three dwarves trapped in a mine. The trailer alone got me hanging to the edge of my seat. Something sinister is going on in the depth of this mountain and the dwarves have more to face than claustrophobia and possible starvation:

The Dwarves of Demrel is a crowdfunded independent production. The fundraiser still runs for a few hours on kickstarter, check it out. If you do not have the money to spare, do not worry, the funding goal has already been achieved, so we can all look forward to that one.
According to the director, he got his inspiration after watching The Hobbit in 2012. The dwarves in his movie are quite removed from the ones of Middle-earth. They seem far less jolly, more sullen and fatalistic, even when you take the dire situation they are in into account. They are more real, down to earth and far less epic and heroic in the classical sense.
All this gives an edge of realism to The Dwarves of Demrel already. I am looking forward to downloading the movie once it is ready.

 

DwarvesOfDemerel