Industrial Decay

One of my favorite visual subjects is abandoned spaces. If you’ve never seen the work of the photographic community on Live Journal Abandoned Places, you absolutely must go check it out. Go ahead, I’ll be here whenever you can tear yourself away from it to finish this post.

Welcome back!

For just a little bit more amazing photography, writer Mark Fenger posted the entry Monday Inspiration: Industrial Decay earlier this week that has some great photographs sure to inspire both Steam and Dieselpunks alike. Check out the first picture in the post:

If that doesn’t inspire something in you, I don’t know what will. There’s a story waiting to be told here, I can just feel it.

Be sure to check out the entire blog post for more fantastic photographs, and to keep up with all of Mark’s activities.

Posted in Art

London’s Secret River

Quick, what’s the name of London’s major rivers? Yes, of course the Thames, but what about that other one?

What other one, you might ask?

It turns out that there is a there is a whole network of rivers that flow beneath London, but their subterranean nature has caused it to be forgotten by much of history and popular knowledge. This mysterious river, known as Fleet River, is London’s largest subterranean river has a long history and was a major river during Roman times.

One of your fellow readers sent me a link from Environmental Graffiti a little while back featuring a series of recently snapped photographs of the river. The photo-essay, Exploring the Secret River Flowing Beneath London, gives a fascinating glimpse into Fleet River and successfully uncovered yet another intriguing layer of the world beneath the streets of London.

Here’s the first photo in the series:

Check out the full essay here!

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!

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

Steampunk has an interesting way of encouraging people to look back to the past and find old, forgotten things that still spark their modern interest and sensibilities. Back in the Victorian times, there was a martial art known as Bartitsu that employed the use of canes and parasols as part of a larger form of self-defense. Though it was largely forgotten since the Victorian era, the interest in Steampunk has also fueled an interest in this once dormant martial art form.

If you happen to be interested in this history of this unique and decidedly Victorian martial art form, you can get a basic history of Bartitsu by checking out this documentary: Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes.

A little pricy, but it seems to be an interesting piece. All my readers with an interest in history will almost certainly enjoy this piece, and perhaps it’ll encourage a few of you to look more into Bartitsu. Hope you enjoy it!

DIY Parasols

One thing that Steampunks tend to do a lot more than Goths is make our own stuff. That whole DIY culture is really prevalent within many of the different Steampunk persuasions and preferences. There is, however, some considerable cross-over between Steampunk and Goth, so it should come as no surprise that many Goths enjoy making their own things as well, though not as integral to their subculture as it is to ours.

Maker Hexotica recently wrote a wonderful tutorial for DIY parasols. Though geared more towards the Gothic community and aesthetic, a simple reselection of colors and designs can make this piece of interest to Steampunks as well. With a little work, this:

Into a lovely parasol like this:

To learn all how to convert your own boring umbrella into a statement piece for your latest ensemble, visit Hexotica’s website and check out her tutorial.

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.

The London Sewers

The Victorian era saw new challenges in the management and planning of the worlds first budding metropolises. As the standard of living grew and people migrated from the countryside to urban areas in search of wealth and opportunity the population in cities swelled. This posed quite a number of problems on a city whose population grew faster than it could cope.

Sanitation and sewage, though it doesn’t seem like all that big a deal nowadays with things like flush toilets and running hot water on demand, was a big problem back in the day. The disease and smell made some neighborhoods near unlivable, save for those who were completely desperate. There was, however, a lot of desperation back in the Victorian days and a lot of people lived in filthy squalor.

In London, for example, the River Thames was used as an open sewage system, and as a result a number of cholera outbreaks ooccurred in the early nineteenth century. After The Great Stink of 1858, Parliament finally decided to do something about their smelly city and resolved to create a modern sewage system. You can read more about the project and it’s fruition here.

The completed project is largely considered to be one of the seven wonders of the industrial world. To help you learn more about it, I’ve a short episode of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World series that features the sewers. Watch, learn and enjoy!

Tesla: The Celebate Scientist

Anyone with even a passing interest in Steampunk eventually stumbles upon the subculture’s favorite scientist, Nicola Tesla. Tesla was so overwhelmingly ahead of his time that many people thought him completely insane. He conceptualized ideas like the radio before the world at the time could actualize and, in many cases, even imagine. Unfortunately, when you’re so far ahead of your time as Tesla was, most of the people in your time think you’re pretty nuts. Time might vindicate you, but by that time, you and all the people that scoffed at you are probably dead. Which means your only vindication might happen in history books, rather than getting the opportunity to say, “I told you so.”

Tesla did, however, have many admirers that pursued him with some determination despite the fact that he was celibate and and seemed to have absolutely no interest in women or romance. In fact, be believed that his celibacy was helpful to his scientific research. He was, by every stretch of the imagination, a man of science and science alone.

Hark a Deviant created a cartoon of this aspect of Tesla’s life and it’s freaking hilarious. But I’m not posting it here. You’ll need to go to their website and check out all the hilarity for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted in Art

Concubine Waltz Teaser

I had the distinct pleasure of getting to meet Joel Clayton, the sitar player for the band Sunday Driver earlier this year when he visited Seattle. I didn’t have much more than a passing familiarity with their music at the time of our introduction, and now all I can wonder is why I didn’t stumble upon them sooner.

He and the rest of the band have been hard at work lately, and they’ve released a new single for your enjoyment entitled Concubine Waltz. Here’s the teaser:

Like the track? Head over to their bandcamp site and download the new single. All proceeds from this download will go to fund their 2012 Tour and PR, so if you’d like to see them in your area, downloading this song is a great way to express your interest in their ongoing projects.

Concubine Waltz in the first single in Sunday Driver’s upcoming album The Mutiny. Be sure the check back to their website often to catch updates on the album and where they might be touring come next year.

Hysteria

Anyone who has looked at the Victorian era with anything resembling a critical eye can pretty easily agree that it was not a pretty time. Repression and oppression was tightly woven into the fabric of daily life for all peoples and genders, but women in particular endured a culture which vilified the female sex drive. Thankfully, we’ve made progress towards a more sex-positive culture (though there’s still a long way to go).

The Victorian era saw the first vestiges of the modern feminism movement. Women fought for the right to vote and to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts in the political arena. In the bedchamber, the then largely foreign notion that women could and should derive similar pleasure from sex that a man enjoyed was morally offensive to much of Victoriana’s conservatives.

Enter then, a small but significant device first know as a “Manipulator” which would later come to know as a vibrator. The recent film Hysteria is focused around the now defunct notion of female hysteria and the creation of the vibrator. Here’s the trailer:

Anyone with even a fleeting interest in gender or human sexuality will likely find this film to be both entertaining and enlightening. And Steampunks of all levels of sexual liberation yet again have reason to be thankful that we are Steampunks, rather than Neo-Victorians.