On Wired, Matt Simon profiles Clayton Bailey, who makes spectacular rayguns out of junk and scrap, and who is possessed of a truly magnificent mustache.
Next you’ll notice the many steampunkish ray guns — from dueling pistols to rifles to turrets — that Bailey has constructed from materials he found at flea markets and scrap yards around the San Francisco Bay Area. Instead of shooting lasers, they utilize either lungpower or pump-action air pressure to launch peas, corks or bits of potato a third of the way down a football field.
They’re gorgeous and entirely nonlethal, unless you’re targeting someone with an especially bad allergy to peas, corks or potatoes.
On IO9, Jess Nevins reviews The Steampowered World, a Singaporean anthology of steampunk short stories published by a "micropress" called Two Trees. The editors put out a call for upbeat stories ("No depressive ending, no preaching, no agendas, no angst-ridden misery."), noting that "depressive endings with angst‑ridden misery is prevalent here in local (Singapore) publishing. The bestsellers tend to be depressive woe is me cultural stories."
Judging by Nevins's descriptions, the result was a collection of impressive fiction that sounds well worth your while.
"Captain Bells and the Sovereign State of Discordia," by "scientist-turned-writer-turned-video-journalist" J.Y. Yang, is less traditional in a number of ways. About the pursuit and capture of the captain of a nation-state zeppelin by a pair of trackers in the employ of the Lord Overseer of the Malayan Colonies, "Captain Bells" takes several of the usual steampunk tropes and upends them: the trackers are lesbians rather than heterosexuals, steampunk's usual fetishistic obsession with imperialism is replaced with a disgust with the cruelty of imperialism, and the trackers ultimately join the revolutionary zeppelin captain and his independent country zeppelin rather than maintain the status quo. In less capable hands "Captain Bell" would have read as a programmatic paint-by-numbers story, but Yang's anti-colonialism, and the trackers' same-sex relationship, are nicely understated. For Yang, the story came first, and it shows.
Claire Cheong's "No, They Dream of Mechanical Hearts" is the story of a maker of "labori" (androids) and how one of labori achieves independence. Cheong's passion for social justice shows in her examination of how android servants might be treated, and her characterization of the protagonist is strong. "Mechanical Hearts" is not as smoothly told as the other stories in the collection, nor is the plot particularly complicated, but Cheong is 16 years old, and I think the story is impressive considering her age. She will be an author to watch in the future.
"How the Morning Glory Grows," by Mint Kang, a Singapore-based freelance writer, examines one possible way in which police work would be conducted in a steampunk Singapore. Hackers, mecha, bio-engineering morning glories, and overworked and underappreciated police populate the tale. "Morning Glory" is an entertaining combination of police procedural and steampunk which Kang treats with a light touch which enhances the story.
Ant sez, "Cory kindly posted about Dimensions, a 1920s/30s sci-fi drama
filmed in Cambridge, England, when we were in pre-production. At
the time we were trying to round up steampunk props for our main
character's workshop. We are incredibly excited to announce our U.S. premiere!
Dimensions screens on Saturday 18th February as the Closing Film
for the 37th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival." Here's the trailer.
Magpie Killjoy sez, "SteamPunk Magazine, the oldest-known journal of steampunk fiction and culture, has returned after a two-year hiatus. This 110-page issue covers everything from the fine art of urban exploration to how to sew a lacy cuff. There are articles discussing the girl gangs of New York City in the 19th century as well as our own Steampunk Emma Goldman's take on drunken history. We interview crafters, cellists, and producers of smut. Opinion pieces about steampunk and occupy. A serious-minded piece about airship pirates. As always, the magazine is produced under a Creative Commons license and is freely downloadable in addition to being available for purchase in print. We've also anthologized the first seven long-out-of-print issues, which had been featured here on BoingBoing, into a single, 450-page anthology."
SteamPunk Magazine #8
Theory11's $6 Steampunk Playing Cards are manufactured in concert with the American Playing Card company on custom bronze-effect paper stock. The cards feature machinelike illustrations and are really rather well done.
Karl Schroeder sez, "This is a link to a teaser image for my upcoming reveal of the new graphic novel version of Sun of Suns, my far-future freefall steampunk pirate adventure. I'll be introducing the project, the artists and company--and the art--this Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. at the SFContario convention in downtown Toronto."
My steampunk YA short story, "Clockwork Fagin" (about the children who are mangled by the machinery of the industrial-information revolution, who murder the orphanage's cruel master and replace him with a taxidermied automaton that they use to fool the nuns who oversee the place), has been turned into a podcast by the good folks at Escape Pod, with musical accompaniment by Clockwork Quarter. It's a great reading, and the anthology the story appears in, Steampunk!, has just hit stands.
Monty Goldfarb walked into St Agatha’s like he owned the place, a superior look on the half of his face that was still intact, a spring in his step despite his steel left leg. And it wasn’t long before he *did* own the place, taken it over by simple murder and cunning artifice. It wasn’t long before he was my best friend and my master, too, and the master of all St Agatha’s, and didn’t he preside over a *golden* era in the history of that miserable place?
I’ve lived in St Agatha’s for six years, since I was 11 years old, when a reciprocating gear in the Muddy York Hall of Computing took off my right arm at the elbow. My Da had sent me off to Muddy York when Ma died of the consumption. He’d sold me into service of the Computers and I’d thrived in the big city, hadn’t cried, not even once, not even when Master Saunders beat me for playing kick-the-can with the other boys when I was meant to be polishing the brass. I didn’t cry when I lost my arm, nor when the barber-surgeon clamped me off and burned my stump with his medicinal tar.
I’ve seen every kind of boy and girl come to St Aggie’s — swaggering, scared, tough, meek. The burned ones are often the hardest to read, inscrutable beneath their scars. Old Grinder don’t care, though, not one bit. Angry or scared, burned and hobbling or swaggering and full of beans, the first thing he does when new meat turns up on his doorstep is tenderize it a little. That means a good long session with the belt — and Grinder doesn’t care where the strap lands, whole skin or fresh scars, it’s all the same to him — and then a night or two down the hole, where there’s no light and no warmth and nothing for company except for the big hairy Muddy York rats who’ll come and nibble at whatever’s left of you if you manage to fall asleep. It’s the blood, see, it draws them out.
Some post-steampunk ideas I had at yesterday's preview screening of Vintage Tomorrows (a documentary on steampunk and its relationship to technology), premised on the idea that new movements will simply subtract letters:
* Teampunks: dress like athletes
* Eamespunks: design chairs
* M-punks: use mobile devices
* Punkpunks: inhabit a notional contrafactual alternate history where Malcolm McLaren is responsible for all technological innovation after 1977
Toby Slater sez, "London, UK steampunk extravaganza White Mischief hosts 'Ghost In The Machine', a Halloween ball on Saturday 29th October.
Headlining is Abney Park, arguably the world's most famous steampunk band; compere is Professor Elemental, the pith-helmeted chap-hop MC. Also performing are The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, notorious for releasing a single as an Edison wax-cylinder. Over 90% of tickets have gone so this is the last chance for goggle-clad Lovelaces and Babbages to secure their place at an event brimming with spooky entertainment.
Alongside the steampunk bands expect brilliant mime artistry from The Boy With Tape On His Face, brass-powered music from The Hackney Colliery Band, death-defying aerial and circus acts, automata and fortune telling machines, a girl in a jar, Victorian portrait miniatures created from silhouettes and much more."
Agatha H. and the Airship City is the first prose novel about Agatha Clay, the heroine of their Hugo-winning webcomic Girl Genius. I've been reading the Foglios since I was a sprout poring over Dragon magazine, and doting on Phil Foglio's back-page comic What's New? with Phil and Dixie; and I've always loved the Foglios for their unabashedly nerdy, slapstick sensibility, a bit of Tex Avery and Max Fleischer filtered through the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide. Girl Genius brought that fine form to steampunk stories, with the buxom, madcap, brilliant Agatha Clay in a starring role.
The transition from comic to print works surprisingly well. While the action sequences sometimes feel a little like a script for a comic, they're always funny and delightful. The effect is a little like the high-speed feeling of reading a fast-paced comic, but with the depth of character that you get from a prose-novel's capacity for introspection and internal monologue.
In the Girl Genius world, the Industrial Revolution has all but destroyed the world, thanks to the Sparks, industrial wizards who are born with the mad scientist's ability to make uncanny machines and lifeforms that upend order and send villagers fleeing to the hills. Finally, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach brings some order to the chaos by conquering Europe and grinding it under his (surprisingly benign) iron heel. Agatha Crumb is a lab assistant at Transylvania Polygnostic University, ward of two "constructs" (reanimated corpses) that dote on her and care for her in her parents' absence. When her benefactor is killed by the Baron's men (and monsters), she is forced to flee, but before long, she is the Baron's prisoner aboard his flying airship castle, "the only capital city that was able to patrol its own empire."
Filled with folgian touches -- Borscht-belt comedy accents, things that go sproing, adorkable sentient machines, and laugh-a-minute slapstick -- Agatha H is a tremendously fun addition to the Girl Genius canon.