Traveler's Steampunk Blog

res ætheris exploramus

Review: Cryptex Version 2.0 – Almost like a Pocket Watch

Posted By on 25. August 2015

After getting my hands on the first version of the Cryptex and reviewing it, it was only a matter of time until the collection was extended. I am now also the proud and delighted owner of the next generation Cryptex USB drive in a flat, round brass shell which doubles rather nicely as a pocket watch substitute in the waistcoat of your choice and thus bridging from Steampunk right to Cyberpunk:

 

Absolutely delightful!

Storage capacity on the USB drive is 16 GB which is more than adequate for the kind of files I carry around with me. This version of the Cryptex has since become a constant companion, attached to a decorative chain, on every occasion when I am wearing a waistcoat.

The perfect accessory for the discerning Steampunk lady or gentleman with an affinity towards cyberspace.

10/10 Zeppelins and the badge of honour

 

 
And if you want to get one, it is available at Steampunkjunkies.net, just like the first one, of course!

Book Feature: Guns and Guano by Andrew Knighton

Posted By on 17. August 2015

And so we continue to work on the æthermails that accumulated during my absence with another piece of literature, this time on the light-hearted side of things:

Guns and Guano by Andrew Knighton

Dirk Dynamo is enjoying a life of learning with the gentlemen adventurers of the Epiphany Club. Joining an expedition to find the Great Library of Alexandria, Dirk finds himself on the island of Hakon, where colonial life is not what it seems. With monsters in the jungle, conspiracies in the mansion and ninjas dogging his trail, can Dirk and his friends find the first clue to the Library before they meet a deadly fate?

Guns and Guano Cover

This is the short of it, now for the long, i.e. an excerpt, the prologue:

Prologue: Paris in the Spring

Dirk Dynamo sat outside a small café, watching the people of Paris go by. He smiled as a waitress appeared. Real coffee had been a rare treat during the Civil War and now he made the most of it whenever he could. Just because he still wore his old blue trousers didn’t mean he had to live like a soldier.
“Thank you, ma’am.” He leaned over the back of the chair into his leather jacket, pulling out a couple of coins. The waitress’s eyes widened as she saw the revolver hanging there, a hefty custom-made Gravemaker. It was worth more than all Dirk’s well worn clothes put together, and carried more menace than his bulging muscles.
“Can I get you anything else, monsieur?” She smiled at Dirk and tucked back her hair as he handed her the cash. Dirk knew enough to know that the smile was for his rugged looks, not just the money. But he also knew it was rude to make a move on a waitress while she was working.
“No thank you, ma’am,” he said.
The gangling figure of Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms emerged from the crowd, clutching a briefcase to his chest. He peered around him through wire-rimmed spectacles, unruly blond curls threatening to block his view. Dirk leaned back a little, hand inching towards his holster.
“What ho, Dynamo!” Blaze-Simms exclaimed as he sank into a wrought-iron seat.
“Tim,” Dirk said with a nod. “You oversleep?”
“I’m afraid so,” Blaze-Simms replied in a crisp upper-English accent. “Am I terribly late?”
“You’re buttoned up wrong.”
The Englishman looked down. None of his tailcoat’s buttons were through the right holes.
“I say, Dirk, good spot.” He set about re-dressing himself. “Was I followed?”
Dirk nodded again, still watching the crowd. Four men had appeared discreetly around the street, all wearing grey suits so precisely nondescript as to become conspicuous in this most vibrant city.
“Are they still following me?”
“Have been all night.” Dirk recognised one from the lobby of the hotel, another from the restaurant where they’d eaten. They were almost certainly the shadowy figures he’d lost on the way back from the museum. And then there were the four he’d tracked back to their room this morning.
“So what now?” Blaze-Simms nibbled at the corner of a croissant, dropping flakes of pastry down himself.
“Now they pounce.”
“What makes you say that?”
“They change shifts every four hours. Right about now these folks are realising that the next lot ain’t coming.”
As if to punctuate the point, a shot rang out, raising dust from the ground by Dirk’s boot. The morning crowd scattered, revealing the four men now carrying revolvers.
“The Dane says hello,” one of the men called out. “And that you won’t be leaving Paris with those blueprints.”
“Oh bother.” Blaze-Simms put down his half-eaten croissant.
“You got the Gauss Generator?” Dirk murmured.
Blaze-Simms flung his case onto the table and flipped the lid. There was a high-pitched hum followed a split second later by the sharp retort of gunshots. Suddenly the table was surrounded by bullets, hanging motionless in a crackling halo of light. Dirk stared at them, impressed.
“Better act quickly,” Blaze-Simms said. “I don’t know how long it can-”
Dirk was already vaulting the table, kicking the first gunman with both feet. As they crashed to the ground he rolled and rose into the next guy, sending him flying with an uppercut.
A hail of cutlery flew as if by magic from the café, tinkling like a wind-chime factory in a hurricane. It halted abruptly as it hit the glowing web around Blaze-Simms, who gulped as smoke trickled from the case.
Dirk caught the second attacker’s gun as it fell, and swept a third man’s legs out with a low kick. Still turning, he flung the pistol into the face of the last gunman. There was a crunch and the man sank to the ground, blood spurting from the ruin of his nose.
A halo of metal hung in the air around the table, from butter knives to loose change to the thick disc of a manhole cover, all suspended in the glowing corona of the magnetic field. A steel bollard shook loose of its base and shot across the pavement trailing sparks. As it hit there was a flash, the aura disappeared and the case on the table burst into flames. There was a clatter of falling cutlery and the bollard hit the cobbles with a clang, making Blaze-Simms jump.
Dirk strolled back to the café, casually kicking one of the goons as he passed. He sat back down next to Blaze-Simms, who was beating out the fire with a copy of the Times.
“Mademoiselle?” Dirk said, waving over the nervous-looking waitress. There would be other agents watching, and he had the Epiphany Club’s reputation to protect. “More coffee please, and some water for the fire.”

About the author:

Andrew is a Yorkshire based freelance writer, responsible for writing many books in other people’s names. He’s had over forty stories published in his own name in places such as Daily Science Fiction and Wily Writers. His steampunk adventure series, The Epiphany Club, is out now in all ebook formats, and the first volume, Guns and Guano, is available for free from Amazon or Smashwords. You can find out more about his writing at www.andrewknighton.com and follow him on Twitter where he’s @gibbondemon .

The Resurrectionist – Upcoming horror short film

Posted By on 8. August 2015

A while ago I featured the horror short film Love is a Grave. Now the company behind this movie is up to something new:
The Resurrectionist.

The year is 1868. In a swamp near the Louisiana Line, a man goes to the Crossroads to resurrect his lover.

And that is already everything known up to this point. The teaser trailer already looks promising, take a look:

There is an upcoming Indigogo campaign, starting at the 17th of August, I keep you posted and will follow this closely myself. It is not quite Herbert West, but hey, you can’t have Cthulhu and his Mythos everywhere, can you?

Minutes at the Edge #10 – The Geeks Shall Inherit the Solar System

Posted By on 3. August 2015

Today’s episode of Minutes at the Edge is a very happy one. I talk about the New Horizon mission to Pluto, the discoveries made and the geek fest the people at NASA had naming the geological structures they found on Pluto and Charon.
Please enjoy this shiny podcast!

 

Charon

 

And here are some links for further reading (all highly recommended):

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/charon-s-surprising-youthful-and-varied-terrain

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/209998-nasa-unveils-historic-high-resolution-pluto-charon-and-hydra-photos-from-new-horizons-mission

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordor_Macula

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu_Regio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_Pluto

http://mashable.com/2015/07/28/pluto-charon-nasa-star-wars/

 

Book Feature: Aether Psychics, Book 1 by Cecilia Dominic

Posted By on 24. Juli 2015

I really can not leave my ætherbox alone for any length of time. While I took a break from blogging, several messages came in that will lead to future articles, and this one.
Another entry in the growing library of Steampunk novels, Cecilia Dominic’s Aether Psychics. Before I start with the feature, there is a give-away at the bottom, so keep reading!

Here’s a short synopsis:

If love is the ivy, secrets are the poison.

 

Aether Psychics, Book 1

After enduring heartbreak at the hands of a dishonest woman, Edward Bailey lives according to scientific principles of structure and predictability. Just the thought of stepping outside his strict routine raises his anxiety.

Adding to his discomfort is Iris McTavish, who appears at his school’s faculty meeting in place of her world-famous archeologist father. Worse, the two of them are to pose as Grand Tourists while they search for an element that will help harness the power of aether.

Iris jumps at the opportunity to prove her worth as a scholar—and avoid an unwanted marriage proposal—while hiding the truth of her father’s whereabouts. If her secret gets out, the house of McTavish will fall into ruin.

Quite unexpectedly, Edward and Iris discover a growing attraction as their journey takes them to Paris and Rome, where betrayal, blackmail and outright theft threaten to destroy what could be a revolutionary discovery—and break their hearts.

Warning: Allergen alert! This book was produced in a facility that handles copious amounts of wine, tea and baked goods. May contain one or more of the following: a spirited heroine, a quirky hero, clever banter, interesting facts both made-up and historical, and lots of secrets. It is, however, gluten-free.

Phew! A gluten-free book, that sure is a relieve!

 

ErosElement72lg

 

Moving on, for those of you who do not know who Cecilia Dominic is, let me enlighten you:

Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each. She also enjoys putting her psychological expertise to good use helping other authors through her Characters on the Couch blog post series.

You can find her at:

Web page:  www.ceciliadominic.com

Wine blog:  www.randomoenophile.com (Traveler: SPLENDID!, I jut wanted to say this…)

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/CeciliaDominicAuthor

Twitter: @RandomOenophile

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ceciliadominic/

Instagram: @randomoenophile

 

Eros Element is available here:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Element-Aether-Psychics-Cecilia-Dominic-ebook/dp/B00Y05TWDC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436139642&sr=1-1&keywords=eros+element

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eros-element-cecilia-dominic/1121969555?ean=9781619230002

Google Books:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cecilia_Dominic_Eros_Element?id=hR51CQAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/eros-element

Samhain Publishing: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5545/eros-element

And Cecilia’s page: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/author/1740/cecilia-dominic

 

And a give away: If you comment here, I will get an ecopy of the book your way!

 

And since you should try before you, well, buy, here’s tan excerpt of chapter 16:

Chapter Sixteen

Paris, 12 June 1870

Marie led Iris and Patrick O’Connell down the main boulevard past the front of the hotel with its sandstone-colored walls and crystal windows in which every pane was beveled. They walked past shops tempting Sunday afternoon strollers with brightly colored displays, and French spoken too fast to understand wrapped Iris in a shawl of whispers threaded together with the hissing of steamcarts and punctuated by the clopping hooves of horse-drawn coaches. The soft odors of steam and perfume warred with the acrid smells of coal and sweat, all of it over the freshness of the summer breeze and almost-baked scent of sunshine-warmed brick.

But Iris couldn’t enjoy it because she sensed someone watching her. When she glanced behind her, she saw a familiar-looking young man, but he disappeared into the crowd so quickly she couldn’t place him.

They turned onto a side street so narrow Iris wouldn’t have noticed it. The light-colored brick and wide stone gave way to cobblestones and the weathered gray walls of a medieval neighborhood. Iris blinked to clear her vision from the after-images of the wide, sunny boulevard. The darkness of the stone emphasized the gloom, and the close walls concentrated the formerly pleasant breeze into a gusty chill.

“Is this safe?” Iris whispered and pulled the fichu higher around her shoulders. Noises seemed muted in the false dusk. If the air were still, she could believe they entered a tomb.

“No one will bother me here,” Marie said. Now she walked beside Iris with Patrick behind them. “This is an old neighborhood, one of the few that escaped the reforms of Monsieur Haussman. Is our shadow gone, Mister O’Connell?”

“Aye, although it won’t surprise me if he’s waiting for us when we return to civilization.”

“There are many exits to this area, including underground. I will find one for us. And appearances can be deceiving—in spite of the architecture, this neighborhood has its modern conveniences, and we are safer here than we were on the main Rue. Ah, here we are.” She stopped at a wooden door set in a wall. It appeared to be the same as all the other doors in the area without a house number to distinguish it, and gaslight flickered in the small windows.

Marie knocked in a complicated pattern on the door, and it opened wide enough to admit them.

Are we here for dresses or for a secret society meeting? Iris wondered.

Iris didn’t voice her thoughts, however, for fear of being left. This was certainly the strangest shopping trip she’d ever been on, but somehow also the most enjoyable.

A young woman about Iris’s age greeted Marie with kisses on each cheek and spoke French to her.

“Fantastique. What a surprise!” She switched to English. “Madame will be so ’appy to see you.”

“Is she here?” Marie lowered her voice and used rapid-fire French that Iris could barely follow. “And don’t call me that. I don’t do that anymore.”

“Ah, and what character are you today?”

Marie sighed with French flair. “Someone for Cobb.”

The young woman nodded and turned her attention to Iris. “Ah,” she said in a thick French accent, “you dressed her in the Juliet. That’s suitable.”

“Yes,” Marie turned to Iris with a smile that made her next words an insult. “She does have the look of a virginal heroine, does she not?”

O’Connell coughed to hide a laugh.

“Oh, and this is our escort, Mister O’Connell.”

“And will you need clothing for both of them?”

“For her and me. We lost ours in an airship incident.”

The shopgirl wrote something on a pad of paper and went behind a narrow desk. “Madame is at the theatre. She is bringing samples to your mother and hoped to ’ave returned before you came. I’ll send her a message to see how she would like me to start.”

The sound of a drawer opening and closing was followed by a whoosh and thunk.

“Is that the pneumatic tube system?” Iris asked. Her fingers itched to test it out. Of course she knew Paris had such a thing—installed with the new sewers, which must run under the neighborhood—but she wanted to see and try it.

“Thank you, Claudia.” Marie stripped her gloves. “Do you mind if I make something to drink? I suspect these two have never had Spanish coffee. Meanwhile, you can start. The budget is generous, as it always is with Monsieur Cobb.” Her mouth twisted around the title.

When Claudia went into the back of the shop, Iris noted, “Your accent has become more French since being here. And Mister O’Connell’s Irish brogue is thicker.”

Marie didn’t look up from where she boiled water on a small burner behind the desk. “I can’t help it—it always happens when I’m in Paris, especially in this part of the city. It’s just as well. As Mister O’Connell mentioned, the English and Americans aren’t loved here.”

“Yes, would you tell me why?” Iris asked. “I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve not kept up with world events as I should have with my mother’s death and my father’s illness and work to preoccupy me.”

“Well, you know the States are at war with each other,” O’Connell said. “The Northern ones thought they had the Southern ones beat, but France jumped in. They wanted the cotton in the South for their mills here to compete with what England is importing from India. Plus a fight with England was too tempting.”

“So the war between the states is a proxy war between England and France,” Iris said.

“Aye, but the French people don’t care much this time around. They’re more concerned with how it’s draining their treasury even if they do get good quality cotton for their clothing and the supply has allowed their manufacturing to keep pace with England’s.”

“What it means for you, Miss McTavish, is that you need to say as little as possible and not draw attention to yourself,” Marie said. “The French will always take a tourist’s money but will easily take offense, and the people have been in a mobbing mood. They say the Empire is in trouble again and the Prussians pushing at the border.”

Another whoosh and thunk made Iris bite her tongue over the retort she wanted to make, that she could handle herself, but she also had to remember she was in a tomb-like neighborhood in a strange city where she barely spoke the language, and it was potentially dangerous.

And she thought France was safe.

Claudia returned with her arms full of dresses. “I am afraid this is all I have. Did I hear the tube?”

“Yes, it sounds like you got a response.”

Claudia opened the drawer, extracted the message tube, and shook out the roll of paper. “Ah, Mademoiselle Marie, I am sorry, but your mother wants you to come to the theatre, and Madame says I am not to help you until you visit your poor mère and bring the English stranger with you for dinner. She will fit you both there.”

Marie said a word that sounded like mère—French for mother—but Iris was pretty sure it meant something else entirely. “You directed the message to Madame, right?”

“Yes, of course, but you know ’ow your mother works. She knew you were in the city as soon as you left the carriage. She has eyes and ears everywhere.”

“Well, Miss McTavish, you’re about to get an education,” Marie said. “My mother is one of the most feared women in Paris, and for good reason.”

“Lovely.” But Iris couldn’t miss that Marie paled a couple of shades under her rouge, and that, above all, troubled her. What sort of woman could intimidate the indomitable maid?

“Can we take the tunnel, Claudia, or are the corps working on the sewers?”

“They should be clear. Au revoir, or should I say adieu?”

Marie laughed and kissed the girl on both cheeks. “If you’re going to invoke gods, find me some good ones. We’re going to need all the help we can get. I had hoped to avoid this, but I should have known it was impossible.”

“You will be fine. Remember, you are Fantastique. You can handle anything.”

“We’ll see. Would you send a message to Doctor Radcliffe at the Hôtel Auberge that we will not be joining him, the professor and the maestro for dinner?”

“You do keep the most interesting company.” Claudia led Marie, Patrick and Iris through the shop and opened a trap door underneath the dressing room. The gas lights provided intriguing glimpses of rich fabrics and trimmings, but Iris barely got a look before Patrick handed her down into a narrow staircase that creaked under her walking shoes. She had to tuck her skirts, which were more voluminous than she was accustomed to, around her so they wouldn’t brush the walls and put her other hand over her nose and mouth against the smell.

“So this is what you meant when you said you knew ways out of the neighborhood,” Patrick whispered when they were all in a large egg-shaped tunnel. His tone was admiring, and Iris once again felt how useless she was in all of this. Sure, she had wished for adventure, but she’d always imagined herself leading it, not being a passive follower. And all this in the service of acquiring dresses—how ridiculous. They should be looking for clues as Cobb was paying them for, not going on a quest for silk and lace through a sewer, of all places, and having to be careful to avoid walking into the stream of filth that flowed down a shallow gutter in the bottom.

Pipes ran along the sides and top of the passage. Streams of dirty water emerged intermittently from them, and Marie showed Iris and O’Connell how to listen for incoming showers. Thus conversation was forestalled in favor of clothing preservation, although Iris was sure her attire and hair would reek for days after this. Plus, her right hip, sore from their tumble from the sky, twinged with each step along the uneven surface.

Intermittent grates above them illuminated the tan stone interspersed with brick where the tunnels had been shored up. Their footsteps echoed along the path, and the whole place had an air of violated sacredness. Iris wondered how much of Paris’s history had been carted away without anyone realizing it. Or had they taken care to sift through the dirt and find clues to their own past? Not likely, at least from what she’d heard about Haussman and his henchmen, whose attitude was that of improvement as quickly as possible and thoughtful exploration be damned. She recalled something about how some of these passages were leftovers from limestone quarries dating back to Roman times, and her fingers itched to touch the walls, to search for echoes of past objects crying out for discovery. But propriety and good sense kept her from taking her gloves off down there or removing her hand from her face. Besides, what would Marie and Mister O’Connell think?

After what seemed like hours and a gradual descent during which they had to hold on to each other in the dark, they stopped at a stone staircase, and Marie indicated that she would lead the way up it. The smell of the sewers retreated in a blast of comparatively fresh air carrying the smells of old wood and candle smoke. They emerged into a store-room filled with set pieces and props that appeared to have some sort of organization to them but not one Iris could fathom. After her daydreams of Roman coins and tools, the two-dimensional wooden bushes and swords seemed an insulting reminder of what she had become—a liar and faker—and she again felt that this must not all be real, that she would soon awaken from this nightmare of sewers and false skies.

“Here we are,” Marie said, “at the Théâtre Bohème.” She pulled a perfume bottle off a shelf with others and spritzed herself all over with it. “Lemon-orange water,” she explained. “It helps freshen up some of the sewer smell. Ma mère isn’t a fan of that mode of travel.”

Iris and Patrick allowed themselves to be sprayed in turn, and Iris admitted it helped somewhat. With that done, Marie straightened her spine, put her shoulders back, and gestured for them to follow her toward the stairs.

“Come, one doesn’t keep one of the most powerful women in Paris waiting.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and see you again soon!

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!

sorry_closed

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.

0061-eWomenNetwork

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…

 

Iron_Blood

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