It has been a while since I contributed to this blog, a shame, really. I have been occupied elsewhere and there is this annoying thing called the day job.
What has occupied most of my leisure time is the planning of the European Steampunk Convention. Which brings me to today’s topic. When I started planning I had thought we would get steampunks from the usual places. You know, the countries who have been part of the European Community longer than all the others. France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, you get the idea.
What I did not expect was the feedback from Croatia, Russia, Belarus, Scandinavia, Slovenia. What I expected even less was people from Mexico and Argentina showing an interest in this.
I have since looked into how the scene manifests from Terra de Fuego to Trondheim and from Mexico City to Moscow.
The only thing I can say: The next person who tries to nail down what the steampunk scene is all about will be forced to wear a hollowed out, six-day-old watermelon over the head for a day.
The more you look around, the more you see there is a lot of difference from country to country, region to region, sometimes even city to city. Continue reading “Three Cheers for International Steampunk”
There has been enough lament now about steampunk going mainstream. I am still not sure whether or not steampunk has actually gone mainstream or will ever really get there, but one thing is clear: steampunk is no longer underground.
I guess all the people who are now lamenting pop videos with steampunk content also had a hand in bringing it out from cellars and parties in unknown clubs.
Continue reading “Do They Like Us?”
Recently, an image of Justin Bieber wearing a steampunk glove or gauntlet was going around on the ætherweb.
There have been a wide range of reactions regarding the photograph. Many have voiced their disappointment or even disgust of steampuk going mainstream and someone like Justin Bieber using steampunk paraphernalia. Several commenters on Facebook and a number of forums and blogs have even declared steampunk to be dead because of it.
Well, excuse me, but could somebody please explain to me how Justin Bieber’s use of a steampunk glove and other apparel can spell the doom of a global subculture?
Continue reading “The Specter of Elitism”
There has been substantial buzz regarding steampunk as a radical political movement recently. The notion has been stated as a fact by some, i.e., radical political ideas are an integral part of steampunk. It was even declared as such in an article featured during the latest Steampunk Week on Tor.com.
I find this most puzzling. I have on a number of occasions made political statements on my blog, I am an active member of a political party, but it does not influence me as a steampunk.
To be more precise, if I had to define a political stance for my version of steampunk, it would be radically different from my real-world views.
Continue reading “Is Steampunk Radically Political?”
David Brown’s Fistful of Reefer was my first contact with fiction concerning the “Old West.” Of course, I had a certain idea of the golden age of gunslingers, but I also knew that this idea was severely flawed.
What first struck me was the intensity of character the first protagonist you encounter displays. Texas Ranger McCutchen is one hard man of strong and firm opinions who knows what is wrong and what is right. And he will shoot you if you disagree too much or get in his way.
Interestingly, the Texas Ranger, a staple hero in American literature, is the villain.
Continue reading “Fistful of Reefer”
When I first head of What Lies Beneath the Clocktower, I was delighted. A choose your own adventure novel in a steampunk world! I am a big fan of those adventure books and have quite a collection of the old D&D Endless Quest books, as well as the classic Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone adventures and Joe Dever’s Lone Wolfbooks. So, I delved into this particular adventure with enthusiasm.
The setting is fittingly moody and slightly dark. The protagonist is an absinthe-addicted gentleman of leisure and he (or rather — you) stumbles into an unexpected underground civilization beneath Paris.
Unfortunately, the train of the story quickly loses steam. There are too many storylines and they do not connect or intersect. Once you have chosen a path, there is no going back. Depending on what choices you make at the beginning (after deciding to actually investigate the commotion), you are in for a really short adventure.
Continue reading “What Lies Beneath the Clocktower”
The Roaring Twenties, or Goldenen Zwanziger Jahre, as they were known in Germany, were very likely Germany’s happiest time in the first half of the twentieth century. They can also be considered Berlin’s Golden Age.
The time between the end of the hyperinflation and hardships of the post-Great War period and the stock market crash of 1929 were a comparatively stable period for the troubled Weimar Republic. The largely French-driven dictates of the Versailles Treaty were modified and relieved by the implementation of the Dawes Plan and later the Young Plan (although the latter would not come into effect until 1930). In 1926, the Weimar Republic joined the League of Nations, another sign of normalization.
Fueled by American dollars, the German economy stabilized and expanded, leading to increased wealth. This credit-financed economy would later prove highly vulnerable to the effects of the Great Recession of the early 1930s, but, for the moment, the Weimar Republic enjoyed prosperity, stability and good times.
Continue reading “Germany’s Golden Twenties”
Android Karenina by Ben Winters is a steampunk take on Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel and, indeed, the plot resembles the original to a great degree, with all familiar protagonists present.
They are incarnated in a way befitting a steampunk setting, though. Android Karenina is set against a high-tech steampunk background, placed in a pseudo-nineteenth-century Russia.
Continue reading “Android Karenina”
Of all the steampunk novels I have read, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is the strangest and most bizarre. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this: “Shakespeare’s The Tempest written in a steampunk world while Shakespeare was on a bad trip.”
Dexter Palmer draws heavily on The Tempest in his novel. The original features on several occasions and we meet strange versions of Prospero, Miranda, Caliban and Ferdinand. They are all protagonists in The Dream of Perpetual Motion to varying degrees of importance.
Continue reading “The Dream of Perpetual Motion”
A little-known chapter in the history of aeronautics is the attempt to reach the North Pole by airship.
Continue reading “To the Pole by Balloon”