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.
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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.
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Seaside holidays are today a common way for many people to pass their summer vacation. What many probably don’t know is that the summer vacation we envision today, with children playing on and with the sand, people bathing or walking along promenades and piers, are all traditions rooted in nineteenth-century England. Continue reading “Victorian Seaside Resorts”
It’s nearly summer and so the convention season is upon us! Certainly there are conventions all year long, but convention activity really reaches its peak during summer.
At conventions, a lot of people want to do something special, like portraying a loved character but in a steampunk way or using an existing setting (Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr Who) and giving it their very own steampunk twist. Why ever should you not be a steampunk Jedi or Starfleet officer or whatever else you love? Continue reading “Steampunk Your Convention Costume”
The Triplets of Belleville bills itself as being something different from anything you’ve seen before. This may not be 100 percent true, as it certainly takes its cues from some of the original animations dating back to the first filmic era and there have been other animators to play extensively with the medium. However, it is a film you don’t see every day with a rather unusual style. The film has a certain dark, dingy quality that’s hard to put your finger on.
Visually, there are a lot of muted colors, with browns and beiges predominating, similar to old sepia photographs. Likewise, character designs are somewhat grotesquely shaped, and some of the scene are just a little bizarre.
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The years following the collapse of Wall Street in 1929 were some of America’s most iconic with regards to the dieselpunk genre. While the Roaring Twenties tore us away from the moorings of Victorian culture and the 1940s saw Uncle Sam fighting toe to toe against the Axis, many of the sights and sounds that we associate with dieselpunk are actually products of the 1930s. Continue reading “Surviving the 1930s”
People who are drawn to the steampunk and dieselpunk movements often forget that there is more to these genres than the Anglo-Saxon interpretations in film and writing. Continue reading “Iberoamerica: The Lost World”
Sucker Punch tells the story of Babydoll, who, after the death of her mother, ends up in Lennox House for the mentally insane due to the machinations of her evil stepfather.
It becomes quite clear from the start that if she wants to survive with her cranial capacities intact, she’ll have to escape. Enlisting the friends of fellow inmates Rocket, Blondie, Amber and the reluctant Sweet Pea, she starts on a mission to gather items that will aid them in their escape.
To help her in all of this, Sweet Pea withdraws into her own fantasy world, which seems to be some kind of parallel to the grimy reality she really tries to survive in.
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Following in the horsemen’s wake of World War I, the story of America in the 1920s was one of a country weaving itself together from the tatters of plague and poverty. It was a time when the citizens danced to Nero’s fiddle while the republic battled its self-made robber barons and gentlemen thieves. It was a time when the populace cried out and told the heavens that no matter what was thrown their way, they were still alive. It was the Roaring Twenties. Continue reading “The Lost Generation”
The Roaring Twenties, the period smack in between the aftermath of World War I and the onset of the Great Depression, was a time of change, of rebellion and breaking with tradition. It is also the end of the age of steam and the start of the diesel era, the line where steampunk crosses over to dieselpunk. Aside from that, it was the time when Jazz music came to life and fashion, especially women’s fashion, took bold new steps.
While back in the day the movement was limited in its spread, today the influence of this time can’t be ignored and is globally recognized. Continue reading “Jazz Age Fashion Styles”