The Court of the Air

The Court of the Air
The Court of the Air

For the most part, steampunk is a versatile subgenre. The tropes and themes commonly associated with it, the trappings of era fiction and the wonders of industry, can be applied and reimagined in any number of settings. Today, literary steampunk can run the gamut from straightforward Neo-Victorian adventure to imaginative alternate history to the wildest flights of high fantasy.

However, there is always a risk of carrying things too far. Continue reading “The Court of the Air”

Rintaro’s Metropolis

Metropolis
Metropolis

It is difficult to describe the exact relationship between the 2001 anime Metropolis, directed by Rintaro, and Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film of the same name without longwinded explanations or vague terms like “inspired by” or “loosely based upon.”

As a matter of fact, the anime is chiefly a filmic adaptation of a 1949 manga by Osamu Tezuka, best known as the creator of Astro Boy, which is purported to be “loosely inspired” by a few promotional images of the famous masterpiece of silent cinema. Continue reading “Rintaro’s Metropolis”

1st Russian Womens Battalion of Death

Battalion of Death: Russia’s All-Female Fighting Force

Peasants, widows and royalty all wanted to serve Mother Russia in the Great War. Some were nurses, others support troops, but on occasion women would put Mosin-Nagant rifle to shoulder and fight quietly as front line troops.

Cossacks and Siberian sniper units were reinforced by female recruits, but the concept of all-female infantry units was viewed with skepticism. Yet with the fall of the Tsar Nicholas II regime in the spring of 1917, and the war against Germany lingering, the Provisional Government needed fresh bodies to send to the frontlines.

And from the vast Russian multitudes a select number of women stepped forward to become soldiers in the 1st Women’s Battalion of Death. Hundreds of women, between the ages of 18 and 40, would turn out to be inspected by the tough commanding officer: Captain Maria Bochkareva. Yet few would pass muster. Continue reading “Battalion of Death: Russia’s All-Female Fighting Force”

Winchester House San Jose California

Crooked House

Not the Agatha Christie novel, but those who have read the Stephen King story Rose Red will find this piece of architectural confusion vaguely familiar.

The story begins in Connecticut when heiress and widow Sarah Winchester consulted a spiritualist for advice following a depression brought on from the deaths of her only daughter in 1866, her father-in-law in 1880 and her husband, wealthy gun magnate William Winchester, in 1881. She had assumed that the Winchester family was cursed from the deaths that had occurred.

The medium she consulted was reputedly psychic and told Sarah Winchester that the family were indeed cursed — by the spirits of the people killed by the Winchester rifle. The medium advised her to move west and build a new house for herself and the spirits.

The twist was that if Sarah Winchester was to ever halt construction on the house, she would also die. Continue reading “Crooked House”

Ještěd Tower Czech Republic

Ješted Tower

This peculiar sight is the Ješted Tower: a 94-meter tall structure on top of the Ješted Mountain near the town of Liberec in the Czech Republic.

The tower was built between 1963 and 1968 by architect Karel Hubácek. In its lower sections it houses a hotel and restaurant, the interiors of which are delightfully retro. In its upper sections are numerous transmitters for television broadcasts. Continue reading “Ješted Tower”