The Chap

Each summer in London, the Chap Olympiad is held to celebrate “athletic ineptitude and immaculate trouser creases.” That isn’t the only thing they are up to, however, and retro-punks of all walks of life will likely love reading the bi-monthly releases of Chap Magazine, but I’m writing this with my dearest Dieselpunk readers in mind.

Are you a gentlemen of refined taste and dapper sensibilities? Do you love wearing tweed and never go out in public without your hat? Perhaps the Chap is your sort of read. Their Manifesto just scratches the surface of their retrofuturistic mindset. Rather than bringing about revolution by bomb-throwing or violence, “Chappists”  aim to change society by dressing with panache, drinking fine beverages and behaving with courtesy.

Here’s what they had to say about themselves on their website:

The Chap takes a wry look at the modern world through the steamed-up monocle of a more refined age, occasionally getting its sock suspenders into a twist at the unspeakable vulgarity of the twenty-first century.
Since 1999, the Chap has been championing the rights of that increasingly marginalised and discredited species of Englishman – the gentleman. The Chap believes that a society without courteous behaviour and proper headwear is a society on the brink of moral and sartorial collapse, and it seeks to reinstate such outmoded but indispensable gestures as hat doffing, giving up one’s seat to a lady and regularly using a trouser press.

Unfortunately for the majority of my readers, The Chap is printed in the UK, so shipping will be a bit of a pain, but this seems something that might be worth the investment if your looking to cultivate your gentlemanly panache. Go here to subscribe and start bringing dapper back.

Railroad!

I’m going to go ahead and assume that if you’ve continued to read past my first few posts that bring you to the site off a search engine, for example, that you, my loyal and daily readers probably have a few things in common:

  1. You like Steampunk
  2. You think I’m not full of shit
  3. You like to read

Those three assumptions is kind of what keeps me posting every day: you like reading the Steampunk things that I write.

Another project that fulfills two of the three criteria (reading and Steampunk, but not written by me) is a Steampunk story entitled Railroad! written by Tonia Brown and edited by Stephanie Gianopoulos. Each Monday, they post a new chapter in their ongoing saga.

Here’s the summary of their tale:

Join us as we follow the strange stand-alone train known as the Sleipnir (pronounced Schlipnear); eight cars of free traveling steam powered might. Able to lay her own tracks, as well as pick them up again, the train is a marvelous feat of engineering, and as an unbound entity she can travel anywhere her master desires. The only trouble is the trouble she attracts. Her owner and creator, one Professor Hieronymus J. Dittmeyer, can’t seem to help but catch the attention of all manner of unwanted and odd characters. From run of the mill outlaws to world-class super villains, the crew of the Sleipnir needs protecting and they need it fast!

Enter Rodger Dodger, dead-eye marksman and all around vexed soul. Dodger finds he is inexplicably drawn to the Sleipnir and her crazy crew, though he is reluctant to return to the work of a gunslinger after a dreadful history of bloodshed and violence. At the request of a restless spirit, Dodger takes on the work, straps on the biggest guns this side of the Mississippi and soon finds his life will never be the same again. (Which is just fine with him because he didn’t like the one he had anyways.)

On a train that can go anywhere, anything is bound to happen!

If this sounds like just your sort of thing, head on over to Railroad! and start with Chapter One. Happy reading!

SteamPunk Magazine 8 Open to Submissions

Attention all my writing readers!

Steampunk Magazine is finally gearing up for is return to print and circulation after what we can surely all agree is a too long absence from the community at large. Now it’s finally back and preparing to return to print in November of this year. Hooray!

Making an awesome, informative magazine isn’t an easy endeavor, however, and to be truly awesome, Steampunk Magazine needs contributions from lots of different people with varying viewpoints and opinions. The magazine is now accepting submissions for the eighth issue of Steampunk Magazine. So if you’ve been working on a treatise or just have something you think the rest of the community should be keyed in to, definitely consider getting it on paper with the magazine in mind.

Steampunk Magazine is accepting submissions until the 15th of October. If you’re interested in submitting, read their submission guidelines and then direct any submissions to readers@steampunkmagazine.com. You’ve got well over two weeks to get something in, so do consider it!

And, keep watch here for more Steampunk Magazine updates. I’ll definitely keep you in the loop as more information becomes available.

Slightly Steampunk: Women in Pants

Only slightly Steampunk tonight, but sure to appeal to many of my readers. One of Steampunk’s amazing aspects is its staunch resistance to an overarching definition. Steampunk means a lot of different things to a lot of differently minded people. Because that is the case, and the dedication of many in the community to embrace both Steam and Punk, there’s room for pretty much anyone in Steampunk.

This was not the case back in the historical era that forms the factual backbone for our future that never was. People who failed to conform to the expectations their rigid society were ostracized and persecuted. Gender norms especially were tightly controlled, including a strict code of dress for both (meaning, only two) sexes.

But there were people who aimed to dismantle that structure. Bold, brave women dared to defy convention and bend how society perceived them by slipping into a pair of trousers.

Written by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Greig, this book is a visual exploration of those women and their unique wardrobes from the 1850’s to the 1920’s. The reasons for wearing pants are many and complex, and makes for some interesting reading. Retronauts of all persuasions will likely enjoy this book’s documentation of gender and dress. You can pick up a copy from Amazon.

Ganymede by Cherie Priest coming soon

The nextinstallment of the Clockwork Century series, Ganymede by Cherie Priest, is coming soon to bookstores across the nation later this month, on the 27th of September, 2011. This story picks up where Dreadnaught left off and tells the story of airship pirate Andan Cly. Here’s the cover art for this installment:

Here’s the summary of the story from the flap copy for the book:

The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig—a supply run for the Seattle Underground—will be paid for by sap money.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early—but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…. If only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River… If only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.

But it’s those “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

Obviously, I can’t really comment on the book itself, not being published yet and all, but if you’re a fan of the previous Clockwork Century books, I think it’s safe to say you might just enjoy this one as well. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Frahnknshtyne Updates

And to follow up with yesterday’s post the book Steampunk: The Art of Victorian Futurism,one of the many artists featured in the compendium was the very talented Kevin Mowrer the author and illustrator of Frahnknshtyne. His presence in yesterday’s highlight made me curious as to what he’s been up to since my interview with him back in January.

Turns out the story of Frahnknshtyne is progressing along quite nicely and the art is, as is to be expected, positively breathtaking. Here’s what he had to tell me about his project in a recent message:

I’m well into the writing of the story for Frahnknshtyne and it’s going quite well.  In the process, a side story and characters popped out so I captured them as a future additional story to develop in the same world once Frahnknshtyne is done and out.  To solidify the concept before I set it aside for later, I illustrated the two main characters and put it on the blog. The working title is “The Pinkerton and the Princess

That’s some fabulous looking art! If this sort of thing piques your interest, I must insist that you go immediately over to the Frahnknshtyne site because more awesomeness awaits you there. You can also follow all of Kevin’s posts from his site and keep up to date on all his releases on his Facebook page.

Corsets and Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances

If you’ve got a teenager that’s into Steampunk just as much as you are, you’ll likely be interested in this relatively new publication of Steampunk romances geared towards young adult readers. Edited by Trisha Telep, this book is packed full of stories that your bookworm will enjoy.

Here’s the description of the book:

Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!

This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.

You can purchase the book from Running Press Books or Amazon.

Punk: Mexican Revolution Style

David Mark Brown

Today I’ve featuring author David Mark Brown’s article Punk: Mexican Revolution Style, as part of his virtual book tour for his newly released novel: Fistful of Reefer. While this novel is set in a Diesel, rather than a Steampunk setting, it’s likely to appeal to retrofuturistic punks regardless of their particular era of choice or label they use to describe it. His insightful and expansive view of Dieselpunk is sure to intrigue and spark new conversations for both us and our cousins in anachronism. Fistful of Reefer is due out this Thursday, the 28th in various e-book formats.

Punk: Mexican Revolution Style by David Mark Brown

Dieselpunk literature typically brings to mind either pulpy noir images (stuff like Dick Tracey, Batman, Doc Savage and Sin City) or alternate histories involving Hitler (eg. Inglorious Bastards, Fatherland, or lots of stuff by Harry Turtledove). The third option is that it brings to mind nothing, nada, or in Yiddish — Bupkis mit Kuduchas — shivering sh!% balls. (This is the case whenever I mention what sort of books I’m writing.)

Dieselpunk History

But dieselpunk literature can certainly be more than graphic novel noir, Adolph Hitler alt-history, and Bupkis mit Kuduchas. The heart and soul of dieselpunk can be found all over the pages of history. It could be a tale of horror aboard the Krasin, a Russian Icebreaker built in 1916 to patrol the frozen waters of the Northeast Passage (if someone doesn’t write this story soon, I will). Or it could be a testosterone and diesel driven romp through the Mexican revolution with machine guns confronting Teddy Roosevelt style machismo (sorry, I already wrote this one).

Reeferpunk: Refried History

That brings us to my own take on the genre, a series of stories I call Reeferpunk. Reeferpunk is a spaghetti-Western, refried alternate-history of what could have become of the southern half of North America if cheap oil never got cheap, and instead brilliant minds devised an early cellulosic ethanol from the wondrous cannabis plant. Mein Hanf!

Punk Mexican Revolution Style

And what better place to begin a story of alternate-revolution than during the Revolucion de Mexico? If I were to tell you the tale of a one-armed strongman, a ruthless and cunning General of the Mexican Constitutional Army, cutting down large numbers of peon revolutionaries with German machine guns during the Spring of 1915, would it sound to you like a fanciful dieselpunk tale or approximate truth? That’s the beauty of it. It’s both! Envision it with me.

Nations have drawn lines in the dirt and then brandished their buttocks across them. Europe is embroiled in war as the United States looks on like a redneck at the royal wedding. Soon enough the Zimmermann Telegram will force the sleeping Giant to crap or get off the pot, but for now border states like Texas, and their politically embattled force of Texas Rangers are left to stave off the looming “brown menace” from Mexico.

Refugees, bandits, cavalry charges mixed with trench warfare and machine guns, armored trains, clandestine meetings and German influence–all of it lavished with a lust for oil. This, ladies and gents, is all pretty much straight from the annals of time, and there’s plenty of both diesel and punk to go around. What happens next is up to all you dieselpunk dreamers. What diesel-powered monstrosities will stain the pages of alt-history before the day is won? Indeed, I believe the best dieselpunk literature has yet to be written.

What if?

I Personally find all the “What ifs” in history too tempting to leave them lingering like farts under a blanket. No, I think it’s our duty to turn down the sheets of time and let the fart gas fly. My version of the story begins with the first novel in the Reeferpunk series, Fistful of Reefer. May you buy it, enjoy it, and pass the gas.

Fistful of Reefer is a pulp featuring goats, guns and the camaraderie of outcasts. Marijuana was the plan, liberty the dream, revolution the result. Viva this! (Available July 28th from ebook retailers everywhere.) The second book in the series, Twitch and Die! a Western plague novel, will hopefully be out by Christmas.

 

Proto-Steampunk Short Fiction

There’s been something of an influx of Victorian era fiction on oi9 as of late, and I figured I’d let my readers who are also history and literature buffs know about their posting. These are not technically Steampunk works. Steampunk itself is a modern movement that takes elements of the Victorian world and transposes it in today’s world. These two works, however, were written during the Victorian time itself and dreams of what technology might do for humanity in the future. For Steampunk today, looking at science fiction during the Victorian period is akin to retracing your family tree: the connection is distant, but ultimately you’re somehow related to these people.

The first is entitled The Steam Arm and is purportedly the first cyborg horror story to enter into fiction. This ballad tells the story of a young man who loses his arm in a war and gets it replaced with a mechanical, steam driven appendage. Dripping with metaphor and commentary about the Victorian world, The Steam Arm expresses abounding discontent with the increasing influence of technology of humanity. You can read the ballad here.

The second piece is a poem by Edward S. Ellis entitled Darius Green and tells the story of young Mr. Green and his flying contraption. Flight would eventually become a huge theme in the Steampunk subculture, with airships and various other flying machines becoming quintessentially Steampunk. You can read the poem here.

Carnal Machines

Sexuality is a particularly interesting topic within Steampunk when you consider the particular period that inspires the subculture. The Victorians made a good show of being completely repulsed at the notion of sex and sexuality, but were truly obsessed with the notion. While on the one hand, tables would be covered lest they show their ‘legs’, pornography was on the rise and was deemed so much of a threat to society that the world’s first law criminalizing pornography was the United Kingdom Obscene Publications Act 1857 enacted at the urging of the Society for Suppression of Vice. For more on the history of pornography, click here to view the Wikipedia article (possibly NSFW).

Steampunk today does not have such terrible restrictions on human sexuality as did the Victorians. People of all gender identities are welcome within Steampunk, and as such, we as a subculture have a rather accepting notion of what is acceptable in the bedroom.

In the not too distant past, I blogged about a Steampunk erotica webcomic and graphic novel entitled Chester 5,000 XYV, which involves the  physical relationship between a woman and the robot her husband built for her. In a similar vein, Carnal Machines, edited by D. L. King, is a collection of erotic Steampunk short stories.

And while I haven’t read this collection, reviews for the work seem largely positive. So if you’re looking for something to help turn up the heat, Carnal Machines might just be the perfect book for you to pick up and peruse.