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Munson typewriter, a beauty from 1890


The Martin Howard Typewriter Collection has a new treasure to show off: a Munson typewriter, with horizontal rods that control a hammer that strikes the page from behind:

The Munson typewriter is a remarkable piece of engineering, with a complex and original mechanical design packed into a small frame. Its inner workings are largely exposed, so the machine comes to life with moving rods and levers when being used.

The Munson does not have type-bars but uses a horizontal type-cylinder (about the size of ones finger) that slides from side-to-side and rotates to have the correct character move into place. Then a hammer strikes the paper from behind, pushing the paper against the ribbon and type-cylinder. Type-cylinders with different fonts were available.

With two shift keys, uppercase and figures, only three rows of keys are required.

The Munson was introduced in 1890 and did quite well on the market; however, today it is hard to find. The Munson became the Chicago in 1898 when the enterprise was bought and the typewriters were manufactured by The Chicago Writing Machine Co.

Munson 1 (Thanks Martin!)

The Arrival: graphic introduction to steampunk ARG


The Arrival is the opening salvo in a multi-year, multimedia steampunk alternate reality based in London. It tells the story of how restless mechanical servants were brought to Victorian England, servants who had to move always to recharge their batteries (this alternate world has a different sort of entropy than ours, I gather), and then broke free of their constraints with the help of human masters.

It's a nicely told, rather short introduction to a very rich world that is unfolding at Clockwork Watch. The organisers have put on some reportedly extraordinary live events in London, and there seems to be a lot more to come.

London 1899. Steam billows out from every corner of the city while huge Zeppelin airships float in the sky overhead. Enter the world of Clockwork Watch, a place where Victorian values are coupled with anachronistic technology, not least of which are the clockwork servants - the mechanical slaves that keep this society ticking along - this is the world of Steampunk.

Technological and social change is in the air - human-clockwork hybridisation is the talk of the town; the unwise employment of science has led to amazement and outcry - the public wants to know whether Science is about to play God.

The Arrival | Clockwork Watch

Victorian and Edwardian proto-science-fiction

David Malki sez, "I moderated a panel at Worldcon the other week on Victorian & Edwardian (proto-)science fiction, and my co-panelist Matt Bennardo kept notes on everything both the panelists and the audience brought up. A lot of great work was mentioned, including tons of titles I'd never heard before. Now Matt's compiled this list of links to free etexts of everything we could find! Months of reading at the very least. Hope you enjoy!"

Over the course of the Victorian and Edwardian science-fiction panel, about 50 books and short stories were mentioned or discussed. It’s not possible to reproduce all the discussion here, but the list makes a fair starting point for those who may be looking for a general introduction to the science-fiction of the period.

This list has many shortcomings. It is nowhere near comprehensive. In fact, the panel largely jumped over the well-known catalogues of writers like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. This doesn’t mean that the unnamed books by those writers aren’t worth reading. But most readers are likely to already be aware of many of them, and the discussion veered more often towards some less commonly read works.

In a few places, the list strays from all reasonable definitions of “Victorian” and “Edwardian”. Some books and stories that fall into different periods were discussed as points of comparison. I’ve included all those that I remember, whether or not they are technically “Victorian” or “Edwardian”. Finally, the list is not very diverse — it consists almost entirely of books written by American, English, and French men. Mary Shelley and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are the only women mentioned, and no writers from other countries make an appearance.

A Brief Survey of Victorian Science Fiction (Thanks, David !)

Steampunk's guide to sex

Margaret Killjoy sez, "Combustion Books, the indie publisher of SteamPunk Magazine, is raising funds to print A Steampunk's Guide to Sex. The book is aimed to be a serious (though entertaining) look at how Victorian sexuality influences contemporary sex. The contributors include OWS's Steampunk Emma Goldman, From Hell author Alan Moore, and Professor Calamity, the US's only arrested blogger."

Attentive readers will recall Killjoy from the excellent Steampunk magazine (whose motto is "Love the machine, hate the factory") and the kick-ass What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower, a steampunk choose-your-own-adventure.

A Steampunk's Guide to Sex

Tuesday linkdump

* Clockwork fairy. Steampunk! Steampunk! Set aside the impulse to tedious kvetching about nonfunctional gears and sit agog with me. (via)

* Stop Pretending Art Is Hard. From botched art restoration to manifesto in one t-shirt.

* The Science News Cycle [PhD Comics]. Don't believe the hype. DING DING! (via)

* Talk on Beat SF, Turing and Burroughs. Rudy Rucker being as Ruckerian as is humanly possible, and we're all better for it.

* The Real Romney. Biography of the man before he became a quadrillionaire sovereign nation in a vat. (via)

* Spanish microcurrency boom. When the going gets tough, the tough issue fiat scrip. (via)

* Anarchist scaremongering at RNC. Black bloc bogeymen for everyone! They've got acid-filled eggs, you know. Because that would totally work. (via)

* Deporting parents of children born in America. No human is illegal*. If your family values demand that the mothers of American children should be sent abroad forever, you're doing it wrong. (via)

Datamancer modernizes the steampunk laptop


Datamancer has finally built an up-to-date laptop to go with his legendary steampunk keyboards. It looks like a Victorian music box, but runs like a kick-ass gamer laptop.

We are currently filling orders on the first small batch of laptops, but will be opening up another batch soon. Please subscribe to the out-of-stock notification below to be alerted as to their availability. This exquisitely handcrafted, limited edition laptop features a full-wood chassis, physically-engraved, lacquered brass keys, semi-precious gems that act as LED indicator lights, and a beautiful lid design with a gold foil map (other customizations available). It is the second revision of the ever-famous Datamancer Steampunk Laptop.

This laptop is made to be as functional as it is attractive, using an Asus gaming laptop at its heart with an Intel I7 2670QM processor, NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 555M graphics, 8 Gigs of DDR3 RAM, a glossy 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080) screen, and a Super-multi DVD drive.

Datamancer Victorian Laptop

Crixus: gladiator mask


Leatherworker Tom Banwell's latest piece, his "Crixus" mask, is very nice cross between the Hannibal Lecter transport mask and something from the Road Warrior: "I realized that the center seam between the eyes--while helping the skull look--was unnecessary and if I eliminated it I could add a row of spikes there. I changed the leather pattern enough so that I needed to remake the prototype from scratch. And I gave the leather a nice rusty iron coloring... Even though the mask was done (except for the straps), and I liked it, I didn't have a clear idea what it was. It wasn't until I spent a couple of days studying it that I realized that it was both protective and scary."

Uncle Charlie Becomes Crixus

From A to B and Through to Z: Brilliant, grotesque illustrated alphabet


Philip Harris's beautiful illustrated alphabet, From A to B and through to Z is a grotesque wonder of animals acting out different trades, and each drawing is more fabulous than the last. Mr Harris has graciously provided us with five of these, at a high enough resolution that you can really see the awesomeness:

  • D is for Docks
  • M is for Market
  • P is for Performance
  • U is for Underground
  • W is for Worship

Philip Harris Comic "From A to B and through to Z"

Read the rest

Prada goes steampunk


Prada's fall 2012 menswear line is awfully steampunky -- modelled by Gary Oldman, Jamie Bell, Garrett Hedlund, and Willem Dafoe.

Prada Menswear Fall 2012 Ad Campaign (Thanks, Matthew)

(Images: Steven Meisel/prada.com)

First daisy-wheel typewriter, 1889


AntiqueTypewriters.com has just added this lovely 1889 Victor index typewriter:

This was the first typewriter to use a daisy wheel, which would be a common design feature on 1980s typewriters. The daisy wheel is made of thin brass, cut with narrow radial fingers, one for each character. At the end of each finger is an embossed rubber character.

To operate the Victor one puts the tip of ones index finger in the little cup at the end of the pointer, then swings the pointer up to a full 180 degrees to select the characters. The pointer is connected by a gear to the central vertical wheel that holds the daisy wheel. As the pointer swings, the daisy wheel rotates into position. A spring-loaded hammer then pushes the brass finger in the daisy wheel against the paper.

Victor index (Thanks, Martin!)

Datamancer's Seafarer keyboard: brassy, nautical steampunk confection


The latest Datamancer keyboard is the Seafarer:

Coming Soon! We recently decided to try our hands at some brass-casting and this is the first result, "The Seafarer", an intensely ornate, nautically-themed keyboard with a worn-in, weather-beaten aesthetic. It features a gold foil map faceplate, protected by thick acrylic, spiral cut rods, and engraved gold metallic keys.

We plan to make several more cast brass designs in the near future, so feel free to join the mailing list to stay informed of their availability.

The Seafarer Keyboard

Black Lagoon-esque mask from Bob Basset


New from Ukrainian fetish/steampunk mask makers Bob Basset, the "60 monstr" -- a little bit Creature from the Black Lagoon, a little bit steampunk, and a whole lot of happy mutation.

"60 monstr" Art leather mask

Steampunk bicycle from Roger Wood


The latest from Roger Wood of Klockwerks: "I was asked to make a kinetic Steampunk sculpture for a show in New York; here it is."

Sky Alchemist: steampunk puzzle game with a gender twist

Ethan sez,

Me and my colleague, Alexandra Keller, gave up our day jobs as web geeks to write this game, and almost two years later we finally have it:

Sky Alchemist - a puzzle game about transforming impure matter into pure forms, using heaters, coolers, and breakers, phase-specific collectors, and a centrifuge. We tried to be as scientifically accurate as possible - the heat capacities, hardnesses, and so on are taken from real data wherever we could find it. It's set in a rich world - a human society that has achieved "Victorian-level" technology, but with a twist - women are the dominant gender. We hope to expand more on this in future releases of the game.

He also notes that it's DRM-free.

Sky Alchemist

Buy it for £5.99 at Desura

Awesome lamp resembles Zeppelin airship

Jake Von Slatt tells Boing Boing, "I got an email this morning from Flaminio Bovino, a young Italian designer who though I might like this amazing blimp lamp he made. He was correct!"