On the subject of book-scanning bringing the 19th century to life, Clive Thompson reviews "Wired Love," a novel from 1880 about telegraphic romance that features some amazingly contemporary themes. As Clive says, "This book is 130 years old, but it could have been written last week."
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Here's a delicious potted history of the Euphonia, a mid-19th century gadget that could simulate human speech by pumping bellows-fed air over an artificial tongue set in a chamber of weird plates and valves. It had a severe woman's face and coils of hair in ringlets, and spoke in a "weird, ghostly monotone."
By pumping air with the bellows and manipulating a series of plates, chambers, and other apparatus, including an artificial tongue, the operator could make it speak any European language. It was even able to sing the anthem God Save the Queen. The Euphonia was invented in 1845 by Joseph Faber, a German immigrant. A little known fact is that this machine greatly influenced the invention of the telephone.
The Euphonia - A Marvelous Talking-Machine (Curious History via Kadrey)
Kottke rounds up a series of illustrations by Argentine artist Diego Mazzeo from all over the Web -- a gorgeous menagerie of collaged clockwork beasts, including this amazing griffin.
Sculptor Justin Gershenson-Gates produces the most amazing and beautiful clockwork insects and arthropods, which he sells in his Mechanical Mind Etsy shop. (via The Mary Sue)
Make Magazine profiled the incomparable steampunk maker Jake von Slatt; he's got all kinds of great stuff to relate:
Two past mistakes you’ve learned the most from:
1. Propane is very flammable and eyebrows are important to the appearance of your face.
2. A school bus is very heavy and asphalt cannot be relied on to support it when jacking.
Bonus: Stay out of the plane of rotation. I lost the tip of my right pinky finger to the lift-fan of a hovercraft when I was 16.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Things About Jake von Slatt
This jacket is a wonderful mystery to me; found upon the tumblrs, and seemingly sprung from the ether. Do you know where it came from?
Update: Aha! It's from Junker Designs -- their Blade Runner jacket
I do not fear the apocalypse because I already have my jacket packed….
Ranjana sez, "I'm a Bournemouth University postgraduate student and I'm producing a short but ambitious steampunk drama
for my Masters project and I'm looking for a few props for our film: steampunk radio; wrist communicator device; steampunk guns; other general props. Could you please ask your steampunk readers in the UK if they have any of the props, I could perhaps borrow for a small deposit along with an invite for the owner(s) of the prop to feature in our film."
Margaret Killjoy sez, "Steampunk Magazine #9 is out and available for order. The pdf is up as well. New orders and pre-orders will be going out this weekend! 118 ad-free, Creative-Commons pages of steampunk mad science, lifestyle, fiction, and history. Including an interview with Cory Doctorow and how to make hydrogen airships out of condoms."
SteamPunk Magazine 9
Kaja and Phil Foglio have launched a Kickstarter to fund the printing of volume 12 of the wonderful Girl Genius webcomic, and to reprint the older books. These are multi-award-winning, independent steampunk delights, and $30 gets you "an actual, dead-tree, SOFTCOVER copy of Girl Genius Volume 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg. 192 pages in full color. Shipped to you by means of one of the largest government agencies on Earth!"
Printing the actual books is our biggest single expense. The first print run of a typical volume costs in excess of US$25,000. If that seems high, you must remember that we print eight thousand of them, and they usually run to around 120 pages. Our latest volume, number 12, will be even more expensive, as it comes in at 192 pages, and we’ll be printing nine thousand of them, because eight thousand wasn’t enough last time. Exciting? Yes, but one can’t pay the printer with excitement.
We also have to ship the books. Actually, we have to ship them twice. Once from the printer to the fulfillment center, and once again from the fulfillment center to the customer. And whether a book is shrink–wrapped with thousands of its friends onto a pallet and loaded into a truck, or carefully packaged for individual shipping, several thousand pounds of books cost serious money to transport.
It's got a short fuse on it because they want to get the books in hand in time for San Diego Comic-Con. Act now!
Girl Genius Volume 12 Printing and Reprint Frenzy!
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In this startling debut episode, the renowned Professor Elemental receives a commission from the government to build a marvellous snooping machine with which to catch the badduns. The Home Secretary has the right man for the job -- with the good professor's marvellous device, the Home Office will be able to spy on every communique that traverses the British Information Superhighway!
(It's all about the Snooper's Charter, the barmy UK legislative proposal to give nearly unlimited snooping powers to the government and police, and this video is courtesy of the good people at the Open Rights Group.
Professor Elemental build a Great Machine for Catching Villains Chapter One
John Biggs interviews steampunk designer Will Rockwell
: "He began his career as a TV producer but he always loved to tinker with metals, leather, and wood – the three components of good steampunk." [TechCrunch Makers]
A new piece from Ukrainian steampunk leather mask-maker Bob Basset. I like the angular forms here -- there's something a bit Roman in it, to my eye at least.
DW new. Steampunk Art Leather Mask
The latest piece from mad assemblage sculptor Roger Wood is this delightful ray-gun: "Another mental health break from clocks with this Steampunk ray gun and charging stand."
The wonderful folks at Bob Basset in Ukraine have a new piece up, the "Steampunk DJ Mask," of which I'm rather fond.
New Steampunk DJ Mask
Hey, Portlandians! Brian David Johnson and James H Carrott are doing a talk and signing for their new book, Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology, a fascinating look at the historical significance of steampunk, and an exploration of what the popularity of steampunk today's means about tomorrow's technology, at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell's on March 25 at 7PM.
Steampunk, a mashup in its own right, has gone mainstream, with music videos from the likes of Nicki Minaj; America’s Next Top Model photo shoots; and Prada’s Fall/Winter menswear collection featuring haute couture, steampunk style. Some steampunk fans revile this celebrity. But James H. Carrott, co-author of Vintage Tomorrows, says that’s just how cultural change happens. “Things get appropriated; they affect the culture in some way or another, and the people who are at the heart of trying to make that change move onto the next key idea.”
So what is steampunk, exactly, and why should we care? Carrott, a cultural historian, says “steampunk is playing with the past.” The world that steampunk envisions is a mad-inventor’s collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions, powered by steam and driven by gears. It’s a whole new past; one that has a lot to say about the futures we want to see.
In Vintage Tomorrows, Intel’s resident futurist Brian David Johnson (@IntelFuturist) joins Carrott (@CultHistorian) in a globe-spanning journey to dig beyond definitions and into the heart of this growing subculture. Through interviews with experts such as Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and James Gleick, this book looks into steampunk’s vision of old-world craftsmen making beautiful hand-tooled gadgets, and what it means for our age of disposable technology.
Vintage Tomorrows Book Signing at Powell’s Books Cedar Hills Crossing