Traveler's Steampunk Blog

res ætheris exploramus

Les Machines de L’ile de Nantes – Le Grand Eléphant

Posted By on 3. Januar 2014

I have mentioned this marvelous machine, the Great Elephant of L’ile de Nantes before, it also featured in my university presentation, but this is the first time I have actually found a video of it in action, so please enjoy:

 

Les Machines de L’ile de Nantes /// Le Grand Eléphant from Crossing Factory on Vimeo.

 

Obscurius Angela – Steampunk Music from the Netherlands

Posted By on 31. Dezember 2013

More Steampunk music out of Europe, this time from the Netherlands. Obscurius Angela is a band consists of three ladies who have been active since 2011. According to their webpage (see below), their lyrics refer to events in the band members’ biography, very interesting,

Here are some relevant links, if you want to find out more

Official homepage

 

Fanpage of Lady la Duc

Youtube videos of performances

 

And here’s a video:

As you can see and hear, they are on the metal side of things, which suits my tastes rather well. I will keep an eye on them and future developments.

Interview with Wilhemina Thomas of Feminist Steampunk

Posted By on 28. Dezember 2013

Today’s interview is with Wilhemina Thomas, who curates the Feminist Steampunk page on Facebook. The page has far too few likes, but you can change this. Since Feminist Steampunk offers a different view on the subculture, I jumped on the opportunity to do an interview with the person responsible and share her views with you my dear readers. So, without further ado, here’s the interview:

Please tell me (or rather my readers) a little bit about yourself and the project “Feminist Steampunk” and where we can find you on the web, other than Feminist Steampunk

Greetings: from Birmingham, Alabama, where we have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. I am Wilhelmina Thomas, the primary caretaker of the Facebook page Steampunk Feminist. I follow the Facebook pages for Multicultural Steampunk, Beyond Victoriana, and Edwardian Promenade. The blogs I follow include Edwardian Promenade and The Chronicles of Harriett Tubman. You can fine me on pinterest.

Wilhemina Thomas

Do you have any other projects other then Feminist Steampunk?
Not long after I started doing steampunk, one of my groups sent a request for volunteers to do a cemetery tour at a Victorian cemetery. I volunteered thinking at worst they would tell me they did not need me or that I would be doing one of the background type jobs. Turns out there are a number of people of Afro decent buried in the cemetery and the organizer wanted their stories told.

Very early on it was hard to do research on the Afro-pioneers. When I came across something good, I felt compelled to share. Steampunk Feminist was one of the places that I shared a lot. In 2013 I was asked to take over monitoring the page. It is my ambition to give voice to many of the unsung heroines of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, showcase female cos-players, and keep up with feminine issues in pop-culture.

What does steampunk mean to you?
My brand of steampunk is more accurately describe as steamfunk, afropunk and afro-futurism. It is always fun to see people’s face light up when I say steamfunk, because they get the whole concept and understand exactly what I am saying. You can find my steamfunk persona story on Steampunk Empire.

Steampunk is an aesthetic that I love; it is what I grew up with. Birmingham, Alabama was founded in 1871. Most of the city was built between 1871 and 1935 using some of tenants Frederick Law Olmstead, and the plan books of Andrew Jackson Downing and Wallace Rayfield. The neighborhood I grew up in is populated by do-it-yourselfers. They build, they garden, they sew, and they craft. Many of the homes of my childhood were built during the late 19th and early 20th century reflected by the plan books of the eras and a healthy dose of common sense. Most of these homes were built without a mortgage, in stages and the workmanship is superb.

When thinking of the South, most people are familiar with New Orleans’s French and Creole style and with Atlanta’s English feel. What they are not familiar with is Birmingham’s Silk Road aspect. The majority of Birmingham inhabitants are of Italian, Greek, Armenian, Jewish, West African, the Near East and the Far East. By the 1920’s, some 23 different nationalities had made their way to the Magic City drawn by the opportunities the mining industry provided. My Southern, my steampunk and my retro-futurism are all multicultural.

Are social issues an integral part of the Steampunk culture for you?
As a student of history, it is disturbing to realize that most people’s world view is gleamed from fiction, the news, television and pop-culture. Pop-culture has a tendency of re-inventing selective themes to suit the taste to the times, reinforcing the status quo. When looking through a list of steampunk recommended reads, there are two books that I do not feel that most people have not actually read. They are The Nomad of the Time Stream and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Michael Moorcock’s A Nomad of the Time Streams (Traveler: A book I readily and definitely recommend, it was my first contact with Steampunk) was written in 1974. It presents us with a North European in a universe where he finds himself a minority. When he is spoken to in the manner in which minorities are treated in his time, he is not really sure how to take it. In its original context, the Captain Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is from India. The book is about how he does not fit into either of his parents’ cultures and that he has no cast. If most steampunkers understood those themes then there would be no need for a number of the discussions that have evolve while trying to define what steampunk is.

Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer recently underwent a make-over where the word “slave” is replaced with the word “Negro”. This implies that the word “slave” and “Negro” are interchangeable. This is far from true. In history not all slaves were Negro and not all Negroes were slaves. Here is a link to a fictionalized blog I wrote that explains that a little better.

Steampunk has an outward appearance of an idealized, romanticized society of the past, despite all this, do you see a tendency of sticking to traditional gender (and race) roles, maybe imposed by those benefiting by those roles?
At worst, I view steampunk as longing for the Empire, a wish for the romance of the noblesse oblige of the Confederacy and a bow to the last huzzah of the aristocracy during Gilded Age. At best, I view steampunk a way to look again at inventions that were abandoned, revise some of the more practical ways of living, and addressing social issues. Steampunkers are do-it-yourselfers who have questioned authority and rebelled again the corporations. We have changed the world, but we have not changed the status quo. Join me at Steampunk Feminist to get a peek at her stories that changed the world and the status quo.

Ms Thomas, thank you very much for your time, it was very enlightning.

Rest in Peace, Mikhail Kalashnikov

Posted By on 23. Dezember 2013

It is with some degree of sadness, I report the passing of Mikhail Kalshnikov, possibly the most successful small-arms designer of all time.

He is of course best known for being the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, a very Dieselpunk weapon, being so iconic for the military might of Stalin’s USSR.

Had history been different, maybe we would know him today as great designer of tractors or sporting rifles.

Although he developed a passion for weapons well before the Great Patriotic War started, he did not aspire to be an arms-designer. He was actually a tank-commander early in the war and his idea for what would eventually become the AK-47 developed out of him overhearing soldiers complaining about the poor quality of Soviet rifles while he was recovering after being wounded in action.

So today we honour and remember Mikhail Kalashnikov, who served his country as best he could with the talents he had. Rest in Peace.

Mikhail_Kalashnikov

Happy Solstice everybody!

Posted By on 21. Dezember 2013

Today is Winter Solstice, Yule, and just in time for the festival, the lovely people over at Screen Novelties have sent me this cute animated short to share, enjoy!

Yule_GuardianOriginal art by http://alcove.deviantart.com/

 

Sol Katmandu Park & Resort – Steampunk on Mallorca

Posted By on 19. Dezember 2013

I know this blog post sounds like something of an advert, it actually is not, I simply want to point your attention to a rather unusual Steampunk location: A resort hotel and amusement park on Mallorca, Club Katmandu.

I have been in touch with a few people working there for a while now, because they want to host a dedicated Steampunk event in 2014 and possibly participate in EuroSteamCon 2014, but let’s see where it all leads. In any case, the hotel is Steampunk themed, and the staff is dressed the part:

I have also had the great pleasure of meeting one of the staff at EuroSteamCon 2013 in Barcelona.
Now, what can we expect, if and when the plan of hosting a Steampunk event there comes to fruition?

  • Loads of fun
  • A great place to have this fun in
  • According to the management, the hotel will be refurbished with Steampunk elements.

To quote from the original æthermail I received:

– Hotel is going to be 100% refurbish on 2014 with Steampunk decorative elements in the rooms.

It could well be the Steampunk used by Katmandu is a bit on the “glue some gears on it” side, but this should not spoil the fun at all, I think. To turn up our noses at enthusiasts and style-adopters who come from the mainstream and not from a related subculture (i.e. Gothic, Metal, Cosplay, LARP, Lolita etc.) would be elitist and elitism leads to the slow death of a subculture. And: Sol Katmandu Park could well be an excellent conduit to get more people interested in Steampunk.

So, let us see where the project with Sol Katmandu Park & Resort leads. In any case, the hotel is good for a family holiday and this is something which makes it very attractive for me.

 

Non-Euclidean Æthercast #22: 2013 in Review

Posted By on 16. Dezember 2013

This year’s final episode of the Non-Euclidean Æthercast is a simple review of the highlights and memorable events of 2013, enjoy!

Subscribe on iTunes

LZ-X1 Württemberg_Werft

James Ng’s Panda Express

Posted By on 15. Dezember 2013

James Ng, one of the very first Steampunk artists I ever got in touch with has produced another outstanding painting. Like most of his work it is distinctly Asian and fits in smoothly with his work I have featured here before. So without further ado, here’s the Panda Express, both the finished and the sketch version:

 

RaccoonExpressSketch RaccoonExpress

And in related news, James is currently hosting a Christmas / Yule /Saturnalia sale on his website, it is “buy three get one free”. So sidle over to his shop and start browsing! Oh, and before I forget: Visit his Facebook page, please.

 

Victor Sierra – The Xmas Case

Posted By on 12. Dezember 2013

Oh the high-octane awesome! Victor Sierra have released a Steampunk-themed christmas song, The Xmas Case, and it is a jewel:

 

Lyrics excerpt:

SANTA CLAUS WALKS IN WITH HIS SACK FULL OF DOUBTS
HE COMES OUT OF THE HAZE WITH A DESPERATE GAZE
SIPPS A ZERO COKE AND PUFFS E-BUTT SMOKE
HE’S A MAJOR PLAYER OF THE XMAS CASE

CRAZY MADONNAS AND WISE MEN OF THE YEAR
ARE DUE TO MEET IN A CORNER OF THE MAZE
TRADING PRECIOUS GIFTS FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT
THEY’RE CRAZY CASUALTIES FROM THE XMAS CASE

VictorVictor Sierra-XMas Case Cover Sierra-XMas Case

And since it is available on Bandcamp, you can actually donate a little more than the ridiculously cheap one Dollar they request for the song.

So, let’s make a few people happy and get yourself The Xmas Case! You also have the option to send it as a gift (nudge nudge).

Review: Audiobook Version of The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure

Posted By on 9. Dezember 2013

This is a premiere, the first time I review an audiobook, so I am going to do it in two parts, part one is about the story and one is about the narration.
The book in question is, rather obviously The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure, by S.D. Stuart and Steve DeWinter, the narrator is Amanda C. Miller.

Steampunk OZ Cover

The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure is set in an alternative Victorian Earth in which OZ (or Australia) is still a penal colony. OZ is actually short for Outcast Zone and Dorothy, who has little in common with the one portrayed by Judy Garland in the classic movie, is trapped there, trying to find her father and a way out. This OZ is a dirty and dangerous place, the lion is a human-lion hybrid, a discarded experiment who has been lied to all his life. The scarecrow is a blank, unprogrammed automaton, Munchkin is just one person who has been cloned over and over again and the Wizard may just be the most dangerous person alive.

Also, there are no witches but marshals, absolute rulers over their assigned territory, and Dorothy becomes the east marshal by accidentally crash-landing in an airship on top of the old one. The setting offers a lot of potential for a great story, even a dark one. A place like OZ is filled with secrets and things to explore. Where the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a tale of magic, friendship and adventure, The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure could have been a tale of dark secrets, loyalty, perseverance and strange wonder.

There are elements of it in there, yes, but very little. Instead, the story quickly devolves into an ongoing chain of violent encounters. What was probably meant to be action-packed becomes mindlessly brutal pretty quickly.

There was so much the story could have made of the characters, Munchkin especially, I think, but from the amount of detail given, it appears the violence is the focus of the tale.

3 out of 10 Zeppelins for the story

 

Now for the narration by Amanda C. Miller.

Amanda’s performance is what made me listen to the whole story and not switch it of half way through. She breathes life into every character, proves to have a wide repertoire of voices and intonations to make every protagonist a distinctive character and also keeps pace with the gory action in the book.

I was especially fond of her portrayal of Munchkin and the various automatons encountered during the story.

Ms Miller actually managed to turn a gory and rather repetitive tale into something worth listening to by her performance as the narrator alone.

9 out of 10 Zeppelins for the narration.