Traveler's Steampunk Blog

res ætheris exploramus

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!




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


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!




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:

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


Twitter: @RandomOenophile


Instagram: @randomoenophile


Eros Element is available here:


Barnes & Noble:

Google Books:


Samhain Publishing:

And Cecilia’s page:


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!


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:

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.


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…



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, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on, at blog and, on Goodreads free excerpts, Wattpad


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

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.


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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.


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 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 ..


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.


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:

Space: 1889 Movie