Friday, September 30, 2011

Fashion Friday: Gears

Gears represent all things mechanical, they are, in a way, the last great technological achievement that everyone could understand. Once we started moving away from gears to electronics, consumer products became opaque. With a moderate level of technical skill you can fix something with gears most of the time, it needs oil, or a screw is loose, maybe needs a new part, but if your car's CPU is on the fritz, forget it! You need a professional. No more getting your hands dirty figuring out what makes it tick, you're more likely to just break it.

That is one of the reasons why they are emblematic of the steampunk movement. In a very real way, gears represent a simpler age, when people worked with their hands, and we were the boss of machines, not the other way 'round (if you doubt that machines own people you haven't seen this video, where a woman texting on her phone falls into a fountain).

So, steampunkers put gears everywhere, jewelry (pic from Creative Habits)

computer cases (pic from Datamancer)

even fingernails

Gears are everywhere in steampunk. It's impossible to get away from them. In fact they would feel rather oppressive if they weren't so cool.

What do you think? Got any cool gears to show us?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Trip to the Moon

A conversation I had on Facebook about steampunk in cinema got me thinking about this film. Arguably the first Science Fiction movie ever made. Of course it doesn't hold up by today's standards, but at the time the special effects were absolutely amazing. Director Georges Méliès based his film loosely on Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why aren't there more steampunk movies?

I've been wondering this for a while. Is it because the few Steampunkish films released have done really poorly, like the Wild Wild West, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, or because Hollywood just hasn't caught on to how cool a well articulated Steampunk film could be?

Bloodrunsclear created this fake Weird West movie trailer by chopping up other films.

He did another fake trailer for the movie version of Leviathan.

And, I had to pick one actual steampunk movie. Here's the steamboy trailer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Industrial Decay

Every few months I go to google images and search for 'industrial decay'. I don't know why the pictures I find inspire me, or even what impulse made me first try that particular word combination, but I love the result. The images I find are so inspiring I have a hard time staying focused, so many different stories spring to mind.

I know some steampunkers like glittery brass and cleanly etched lines on the samovar in their manicured Victorian salons, but not me. Give me dirt and grime, rust and decay any day. It's far more visceral and this, is the sort of thing that gets me going (well this and coffee).

S. Marshall takes wonderful photographs, including these of an abandoned French bunker. Originally built in the late 19th century, it was in use until sometime during the early '90s.

Another by S. Marshall, this time of the Rankine hydroelectric plant's tailrace.

Baldo2008 has a fantastic array of photos taken in abandoned factories.

From Staticpulse, a couple of HDR photos of ducting.

To explore the world of industrial decay on your own I highly recommend starting with The Industrial Decay Network

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fashion Friday: What's up with the Goggles?

There are many opinions as to the origin of goggles in steampunk. Some say it came from the real-world movement and translated into literature, artwork and film over time. This crowd leans towards the theory that goggles were first worn in a steampunk context at Burning Man, as simple eye protection, because of all the dust.

Others say it's because goggles were simply more common in the Victorian context. Eye protection was worn by those shovelling coal into the engines, scientists performing experiments, and some trains had passenger compartments open to the air, where passengers wore goggles to protect themselves from the wind.

However, as far as I can determine, the first use of goggles in a steampunk context I can find is in Phil Foglio's "Girl Genius". Way back in 2000, he published the first issue, and already goggles were an important part of the aesthetic.

Whatever the source, they're a staple of steampunk garb. From the complex lenses worn by The Dark Power.

To forehead (or hat) worn decorative goggles.

To the genuine antique models.

Goggles will always be one of the defining fashion accessories of steampunk.

Now, does anyone know of a good place to shop for goggles, or do you have a goggle story? I'd love to hear about it, leave a comment below.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dragoncon 2011 Costumes

Beat Down Boogie put this wonderful compilation of costumes from Dragoncon together. Fantastic stuff, I think I'll have to put D-con on my list of places to be next year.

Chad Vader made an appearance too. If you're unfamiliar with the series, it's a web-based show about Chad, a relative of Darth's, who works as the day manager at a 24 hour grocery store.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Music Video

The imagination that goes into music videos astounds me. Yes, there are a lot of crap music videos, but the art form allows for a certain freedom of expression that leads to wild and wonderful spasms of pure creativity.

First up, Denmark, by Portland Cello Project

Of course, the classic, Cloudbusting, by Kate Bush, my first exposure to steampunk.

Sleep Isabella, by Abney Park. Just a stage performance unfortunately (which is still good, don't get me wrong). I can't wait to see what they'll do if they ever get a budget for a theatric-style music video.

Last, but not remotely least, some steampunk hiphop, Fighting Trousers, by Professor Elemental.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Steampunk Peter Pan

Every year the Vancouver Film School (where I went for my computer animation degree many years ago) creates a series of short themed films which all the students in their various disciplines work on. This year the theme was Steampunk Peter Pan. The following are this year's final products.






Friday, September 16, 2011


One thing which steampunk is bringing back to the world is the hat. It's an important bit of clothing, worn by every culture in every time period since men started making tools, yet in the past hundred years they've fallen completely out of fashion. Baseball caps do not count, especially if worn backwards or sideways, that's actually pushing hats lower on the fashion scale than wearing none at all.

Hats are style. As Neil Gaiman wrote in Anansi Boys, "...all you need to wear a hat is attitude..." If you can wear a hat without feeling silly in it, it makes you look good.

So, here are some good places to look, when you start shopping for hats.

These men's hats from Museum Replicas cover all your basic needs. Museum Replicas also has an excellent collection of other costuming odds and ends. I especially like their leather greatcoat.

Naturally Etsy is a great place to look. Shops like caribbeanrosepirate (pictured above)


and rosewoodstitches, provide a wide variety of hats, mostly in women's styles.

If your tastes run to the wildly decorative, you might want to give the House of Wormwood a look (pictured above and below).

There is a hat to suit every steampunk style. Just remember, it's all about attitude.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Serious Comedian is a Dangerous Thing

This seems to fit with the Burning Man video from earlier this week. This is one of the greatest political speeches ever given, if not the greatest. It's as appropriate today, if not more appropriate than it was 70 years ago.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Burning Man

I've never been to Burning Man, but I really want to go. I look forward to videos like this each year. The outpouring of raw creativity there is like no other time or place on Earth.

Maybe when Aetherstorm hits the bestseller list I can finally afford the trip. ;)

Anyone here been? If so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

By the way, if you're not familiar with Burning Man, you may want to check your surroundings before hitting play, there are a few fleeting chest shots of women wearing nothing from the waist up but bodypaint or pasties.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Short Steampunk Documentary

A short PBS documentary on the steampunk movement, interviews with artists, thoughts about the roots and where things are going into the future. If you ever have trouble explaining to other people exactly what steampunk is, point them here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

...And Then vs. But and Therefore

Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park creators) crash a writing course and deliver some pointers. I think subliminally most writers know this rule, but I've never heard it spelled out in quite these terms before. Well worth the two minute watch.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Up until now I've avoided going into any detail on my progress in finding an agent. I'd heard from several sources that talking about the search on your blog is considered bad form.

I will go through my experiences in the process in greater detail in future posts, but for now, let me just say I'm proud to announce that I'm officially represented by Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary. This is a huge step forward for my writing career, and although we still have to do edits, find a publisher and get the book out there, this is probably the biggest and most important step towards that. Only about 1/2 - 1/3 of agent represented books get published by a good publisher, but fewer than 1 in 100 manuscripts actually get picked up by an agent.

So, like Sissyphus I've ascended the peak, only to see that there's more climbing to do. Unlike Sissyphus, the end is within sight, and possibly within grasp in the near future.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I saw this today and thought it was pretty amazing. For those of you who wonder how your Kindle's screen works. I never realised the displays on those things are paper thin like this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Inspiration: Makers

People who build things inspire me. The things they build often inspire me too. Things like the Maker's Faire make me wish I had a workshop so I could join in the fun (unfortunately my current living conditions only allow for a small closet of tools, and the kitchen table is my best bet for a work surface which would eliminate all of the projects in the following video of Maker's Faire 2011).

If watching that puts you in a buying mood then check out these computer mods from

Yes, those are all fully functioning PCs