Sunday, May 30, 2010

Steampunk Entertainment: Aqua (Xbox)


A larger (and apparently icebound) naval vessel in Aqua

I was contacted a bit ago by the developers of an Xbox game titled "Aqua" - a Nautical Steampunk real time combat game for the Xbox.  I initially pulled up more information regarding the game, and the first thing that caught my eye was the impressive art work, both in game and beyond it.  Now playing an Xbox game simply for the graphics isn't the most likely reason to do so, but from the stills and screen captures the features of the game evoke an Art Nouveau appearance to it.


A screenshot of one of the cities of Aqua

The game play was actually a bit of a challenge, as I don't really play much along the lines of Xbox games.  However, I was able to task some more talented game players (e.g. the neighbor's teenage boys), and turned them loose on Aqua.  After a couple of hours, I checked in and got their "report".  They did tell me that the learning curve was fairly short (a good thing for any game), but at later levels, the difficulty of the "bosses" tends to be pretty tough.  Additionally, I was told there were too many "protection" scenarios, as opposed to "just blowing things up" (which is apparently the preferred choice of action for the demographic).  The game seemed akin to 90s types of RTS combat games (e.g. Red Alert, Starcraft), but with a smoother engine and well done Steampunk graphics.


A nicely done trailer for Aqua

Additionally, there is talk of a story writing contest in conjunction with the Aqua storyline, with the winning story being made into a comic for the game.  No solid details on this as of yet, but if you happen to be a Steampunk writer, sharpen up your pencils - I promise to provide more infomation as it becomes available!


To learn more about Aqua, please visit their website, at: http://www.aqua-the-game.com/
To visit the Xbox market place, please turn here.
And a few more reviews by non-Steampunk individuals are located here:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Steampunk Media: "Hark! A Vagrant!"

While I was visiting the New Babbage Ning, I stumbled across the work of a Miss Kate Beaton, the author of an outstanding comic site titled "Hark!  A Vagrant" (via Miss Scarlet Jaggernov - Ty, madam)!  I practically fell off my chair when I read the the above comic, and then proceeded to spend the next hour or so reading her archives of older works!


I really enjoy the juxtaposition of historical commentary and modern social mores (and speech, as one can see in the above, in "The Death of James Cook").  She does pass the traditional Steampunk / Victorian era (though her latest post has a clever "Victorians" strip), but the entire overview of her work is extraordinary.  Do take a moment (or likely a *lot* longer) to visit her site and indulge in her work, located at: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php




Edison and Marconi in evil cahoots versus the Noble Tesla! 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

World Steam Expo this weekend!


The final of the three major Steampunk events will be taking place this weekend in Dearborn, Michigan (US).  The World Steam Expo, "One Hundred and Twenty Years in the Making", will be in full swing starting on Friday, the 28th of May.  There is an impressive number of events taking place, including a Charity Masquerade Ball, High Tea, Fashions (for both Ladies and Gentlemen), discussion panels, re-enactments, philosophical reviews, and an outstanding collection of vendors!  For more details on tickets, location, further event descriptions, and more, please to take a moment to visit their website, at: http://www.worldsteamexpo.com/index.php

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Neo-Victorian and Steampunk Weddings...



As I was doing a bit of research today, came across an article on Steampunk Weddings in the Tampa Bay Examiner.  The piece is intriguing, as its been a while since I've been involved in any matrimonial endeavors (I recall my part was to show up on time - the extent of the duties for many grooms, if I might speculate), so reading about this was an eye-opener.  Additionally, Offbeat Bride has a supplemental article on Steampunk Weddings, along with nicely done wedding video of Miss Siouxzi Rodeman and Mr. Alan Donnelly's matrimonial ceremony.  I've added the video below, but to read the articles, please visit:
The Tampa Bay Examiner article on Neo-Victorian and Steampunk weddings (here), and
The Offbeat Bride's article on Steampunk weddings (here).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Steampunk Media Classic: Master of the World (1961)



Saw this a bit ago on TMC, and as many reviewers have commented, this production has some ... bad aspects and... "era appropriate" special effects.  However, any ship which a) predates the modern Steampunk movement, b) uses an airship for battle, and c) has Vincent Price as its captain can't be all bad!

For more information on this gem, please visit its Wiki here, and its IMDb entry here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Steampunk Polls: Seattle chosen as most "Steampunk" Western US City, and Zeppelin poll results


"Global Warming", by StefanParis

I've been negligent in updating the results of the last two polls, so I shall go about addressing that small issue.  Two polls took place during the past few months, and with results that I am certain can be debated.  The first was fairly simplistic - Which style of airship of airship best represents a Steampunk lighter than air vehicle?  The choices were straightforward, as were the results...

The Zeppelin-type (e.g. a rigid or semi-rigid air container, with an undercarriage for persons/crew was by far the preferred selection, with 138 votes in favor (63% of all votes cast).
The next most popular choice was the "Flying Ship" (e.g. a traditional nautical/sailing ship suspended from an air-balloon), obtaining 64 votes (or 29% percent of the total votes cast).
This was followed by "airships with no visible propulsion", which had 8 votes (3% of the total), and rounded out by "other means of propulsion", which had 7 votes (also considered 3% of the total).

This provided a grand total of 98%.  Hm - well, the 2% margin of difference won't make a difference in the outcome, but still, a bit odd.  So, Zeppelin-type is the favorite of the readers, I'd say.


"Steampunk Bandwagon", by Mr. MattRhodes

The next poll I thought (correctly) to be more controversial - which Western US City would be considered the most Steampunk.  With Victoria chosen as the most Steampunk Canadian city, I wondered which of the other western cites would come out ahead?  The top choice for the title on the US West Coast was... Seattle, with 87 votes of 232 cast, or 37.5% of the total.  The San Francisco Bay Area was second, with 69 votes, or 29.7% of the total.  San Fran was followed by Portland (38 votes, or 16.4% of the total), which was followed by "Other" (18 votes, or 7.8% of the total).  The remaining two cites, Los Angeles (12 votes, or 5.2% of the total) and Denver (3.4% or  8 votes) rounded out the remainder of the selections.

I had a feeling that Seattle and San Francisco would be fighting for the top two spots, with Portland possibly upstaging them as a dark horse selection, but, I am not quite sure what to make of "Other" placing above LA or Denver.  I'd be quite interested in any thoughts of which city I may have missed in the selection process - or perhaps there is something else that led to "Other" being chosen?  Please feel free to postulate in the comments!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Steampunk Media: The Anachronism



A bit late on the draw for the premier of The Anachronism (scooped by Brass Goggles on this one, I must say), this is the award winning Steampunk movie (six Leo awards), and excellent attention is paid to props and environment, though I must admit the ending was a bit of a suprise.  

For more details, please visit the Anachronism's production main website, at:  http://www.theanachronism.com/exit.html

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Victoria Steam Exposition starts this Saturday!


The next in a series of Steampunk conventions in May, the Victoria Steam Exposition will host a variety of events and guests this coming weekend (the 22nd and 23rd of May), including...

- The superb music from the lovely Miss Unwoman (her website is here, for those who may have not had the pleasure of indulging in one of her performances)

- Mr. Nick Valentino, the author of Thomas Riley (website located here)

- The Steampunk Burlesque of Miss Rosie Bitts (website found here)

... and a visit by the special guest of honor, the Nebula Award winning author of Boneshaker (and the upcoming Clementine), Miss Cherie Priest! (and yes, her website is over here)

For more information, please visit the Victoria Steam Exposition's website, at: http://victoriasteamexpo.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Steampunk Reviews - Episode #17


Miss Yankee999 has released her latest episode of the Steampunk Reviews, this time on Mr. Chris Wooding's The Storm Thief.  Done in her indomitable style, she outlines the highlights of this described "strange book".  Additionally, if you wish to catch up on her older episodes, or simply keep tab on her new releases, please visit her YouTube site (located here), and consider subscribing (and perhaps even a few "thumbs up" for your favorite episodes)!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Steampunk Media: Mr. Bojagi


Found this independent masterpiece courtesy of the BBC, which though borders into the Edwardian era, maintains some classic Steampunk narratives - unique and intriguing science, an odd but friendly inventor, and a strange and fascinating device.  Winner of the "Best Short Film" from the London Independent film festival, this small version is only a snippet of a proposed larger work.  Though you can certainly watch the short here, I would also recommend visiting its homesite, as it also includes additional works showing how the film was made (aka, the "making of" shorts).  Please enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Steampunk World's Fair - in pictures



Created with flickr slideshow.


The Steampunk World's Fair has come and gone, with quite a successful run! Though many may not have had the opportunity to indulge in it, the participants were kind enough to provide photos of the event. Please do enjoy!

(Additionally, a small piece was written by the local online paper (my New Jersey.com) - a serviceable article, but their photographer probably could have chosen a better photo!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend Events: 15-16 May, 2010


A good number of events going on this weekend, starting with the Steampunk World's Fair, the seminal RL Steampunk event.  Started yesterday, and today is in "full swing", including an excellent selection of vendors, performers, and sights to see!  For more information (or directions on how to rush there), please visit their website, at:  http://steampunkworldsfair.com/



New Babbage will hold its Second Annual Robber Baron's Ball on Saturday, from 6 to 9 pm, SLT, at Wheatstone Waterway's Piermont Landing.  DJ Bats will be spinning tonight, so come and visit the one of the Steamland's premiere events!  For more information, please turn to the New Babbage Ning, at:  http://newbabbage.ning.com/events/the-2nd-annual-robber-baron



The Aether Salon will be back on Sunday the 16th, starting at 2pm SLT, with the topic of Music, hosted by Mis Gabirelle Riel.  To learn more about this ongoing series, hosted by the Steamland's most prolific broadcaster, please visit the Salon's webpage, at:  http://aethersalon.blogspot.com/



For something completely different, The Carrington, in the Noir/Dieselpunk sim of Seraph city, will host its grand opening on Sunday, from 4 to 6 pm, SLT.  Come visit Second Life's newest sim, and indulge in its post-Steampunk atmosphere.  For more details, please visit the Seraph City's Ning, at:  http://seraphcity.ning.com/events/grand-opening-of-the



To cap off a busy weekend, take a moment to go to the New Champagne Rooms in New Babbage, where the very talented Miss Eva Ballambi will be hosting classic crooners with her unique flair!  For more details on her event, please visit the New Babbage Ning, at: http://newbabbage.ning.com/events/music-appreciation-with-eva

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Steampunk World's Fair starts today!


One of the biggest Steampunk events takes place starting today!  One day tickets are available, and the full scope of the experience can best be seen by visiting their website, at:  http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Steampunk Media: Albion: 1849, a tribute to Ms. Padua's 2dGoggles...


Located this intriguing work at the Steampunk Empire (via Mr. Zebulon V. Pike), which is a tribute to Ms. Padua's outstanding continuing series at 2dgoggles.com .  Epithumia2007 not only produced an excellent work, but layered the soundtrack from Space 1999 onto it.  (For those who may be "age-challenged", Space 1999 was one of the few science fiction shows "back in the day" when there were only four channels on the television - not that I'm dating myself!)  Please do enjoy, and do visit 2d Goggles afterwards!

(A "Tip of the Hat" to Mr. Pike for this excellent find!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man, by Whitestone Motion Pictures



Located a very well done video from the Steampunk Empire.  While the background regarding its production is located here, but prior to visiting it, do take a moment to enjoy the video (its about 20 minutes long, so do have a block of time - but its well worth it)!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The departure of Retrostajcia, otherwise known as Steampunkopedia...


When I started my blog, "ages ago", one of my first inspirations was the Polish website known as "Retrostacja", or to those non-Polish speakers as "Steampunkopedia".  Over the years it existed as a central repository of Steampunk information and documentation, and it became apparent that I was long overdue in blogging about it.  Alas, when I attempted to visit it, I discovered the site was gone.

Apparently due to circumstances occurring at the Great Steampunk Debate, I perceive that Mr. Piechur has made the difficult choice to suspend the website.  Personally, I only lurk at the debate, a conscious choice after past experience of how controversial some discussions can evolve/devolve on discussion boards.  Even so, the absence of this outstanding website is a loss to the overall Steampunk community, as it was the oldest (and perhaps most complete) resource for the genre.  Fair winds and following seas, sir!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Quirk Books: Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Android Karenina


It often seems that projects come and go - either you have too many or too few projects to do.  Not to play a violin with a sad song, but I've fallen into the "too many projects" category as of late - and making time for them can be a challenge.  However, I finished the recent release from Quirk Books, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, and must say that it was quite an entertaining endeavor!  

Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a prequel to Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies, and though it isn't *exactly* set in a Steampunk era (technically Georgian, I suppose), but being a fan of zombies (philosophical analogies to the current genre aside), I was pleasantry impressed with this work.  From its beginning with the Bennet girls attending a funeral which become a bit livelier that they had expected, the book continues with the development of the ladies' skills in dispatching the "Unmentionables", with varying levels of success.  However, the story seems to take a longitudinal plot line from one of George Romero's classic zombie movies, which though I saw fairly early, the development of this line was well done (actually, I thought better than Mr. Romero's movie parallel).  

The only disappointment I had with the book was inherent in its structure - as a prequel, it can only lead up to Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies - I knew that none of the main characters would suffer a terrible fate, so my prognostication of plot development was fairly straightforward in that sense.  Still, instead of chattering up your time, I would heartily recommend the Dawn of the Dreadfuls, and look forwarding to a "post-quel" to Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies!


On to the newest release from Quirk Books, Android Karenina - not in bookstores (as of this writing), but it is available online at Amazon.  Anna Karenina, a Leo Tolestoy classic, it does in fact fall into the Steampunk era (its original publishing was in 1873 to 1877 - well within the Victorian era).  The official release of the book will be June 8th, which gives one a good month to devour the original novel!  So be on the lookout for Quirk Book's newest release next month!

For more information about Quirk Classics, please visit:  http://www.quirkclassics.com/
To read a synopsis of Anna Karenina, please visit its Wiki, at:: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Karenina
For those brave of heart (or simply... thrifty), read the original online, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Kareninahttp://www.literature.org/authors/tolstoy-leo/anna-karenina/

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Outland Armor, Steampunk Innovators, are devastated by flooding...


Received word from our friends at Dieslepunks.org that Outland Armor, a Tennessee based endeavor, suffered serious damage to their establishment during the serious flooding that afflicted the area (as seen above).  They are working hard to recover from this tradgedy, so if you so wish, I've included a widget below (and to the sidebar) to allow cotributions for said purpose.  For more details about the circumstances, please visit their website, at:  http://outlandarmour.com/home.html

Friday, May 7, 2010

Victoria Steam Exposition tickets on sale now!


As previously mentioned in the latest issue of Exhibition Hall, a good number of Steampunk events will be taking place this month, including the Victoria Steam Exposition, from May 22nd to May 23rd.  The Vancouver Sun (which did a piece on it), certainly picked up my morning today with the blurb "The Victorian Steam Exposition is a celebration of a growing subculture called Steampunk..." (Kudos to the report, a Miss Sarah Petrescu)!  To read her snapshot of the upcoming event, please visit the Sun, at :  http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Steampunk+fashion+propels+Victorians+back+time+their/2994789/story.html

However, tickets for the event are on sale now (ok, they have been on sale for a bit, but)... to obtain your passes to this outstanding event, please turn to: http://victoriasteamexpo.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Exhibition Hall, Issue #9


Issue nine of Exhibition Hall is on the street!  Included in this excellent work are an interview with Steampunk artist Kimmo Karvinen, reviews of Changeless, Worldshaker, New Amsterdam (and more Steampunk reviews), a listing of Steampunk events for May (quite a few taking place), and much more!  To pay a visit, please head to: http://efanzines.com/ExhibHall/ExhibHall-09.pdf

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The League of STEAM: "Two for Dinner"


Once again, the League of STEAM have been kind enough to document their latest escapade ... involving a mysterious guest!...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Steampunk Business: The Fred Harvey Company and "Harvey Girls"


One of the keys of the Victorian / Steampunk era is the advent of new business and business processes.  Usually, managerial philosophies are not the highlight of any discussions of the era, but a radio snippet caught my ear the other day.  During the rail expansion in the United States, obtaining a meal was a challenge, and a good meal was practically impossible.  As Stephen Fried quoted in his book, "Appetite for America"...


Before (Fred) Harvey, food available for train travelers was subpar at best, and Harvey had suffered "culinary indignities" along the rail lines himself.
"The food was awful," Fried tells NPR's Melissa Block. "And what they would often do is they would serve it to you so late that by the time you sat down, it was time to get back on the train."
He adds, "They would actually scrape the food off the plate and serve it to the next person who came in and got tricked the same way."


Business Entrepreneur Fred Harvey

Not too appetizing, but the British entrepreneur Fred Harvey introduced a new business model in the 1880, with an emphasis on quality and service... and introduced a novel concept - introducing women to civilize the American west!

"Harvey Girls", as they were called, were ladies to took the duties as cooks and waitresses in the "Harvey Houses" stationed along the many rail stops in the American west.  Not only did they work as waitresses, they prepared meals for train customers which "rivaled those in the best restaurants in Europe".  Though it was an opportunity for ladies to make a living away from their families, the restrictions imposed upon them would be considered onerous by today's standards (e.g. wool neck-to-ankle dress while working... even in Arizona and New Mexico, strict living arrangements, including a 10pm curfew).


Harvey Girls in Texas, 1902

The story of the Fred Harvey company and Harvey Girls spanned from the 1880's up through the late 1960's, changing with the time, until it was eventually sold via a business acquisition.  To this day, Harvey Girls and the   Fred Harvey company may not be well known, but were iconic from the time, using business practices which only during the past few decades have become desirable business goals (if not always reached).

For more information about the Fred Harvey Corporation and Harvey Girls, please visit...

The NPR article with audio narration and an excerpt from "Appetite for America", at:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126190564

Harvey Girl Wikipedia entry, at :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Harvey_Company

The Harvey Girl Historical Society, at: http://www.oerm.org/pages/Harveygirls.html

and if you happen to be very ambitious, a 73 page "preview" of "The Harvey Girls" is on Google Books!

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Gatehouse Gazette, Issue 12, is on the stands!


As part of the Great Steampunk Debate, issue 12 of the Gatehouse Gazette is dedicated to Steampunk Ideology, in its many forms and ideations.  Being that the topic of Steampunk in politics as emerged as quite polarizing in the overall community, with some insisting that it is an essential part of the genre, while others feel that the imposition of any type of modern political philosophy or thought is an unnecessary imposition and disingenuous attempt to hijack an enjoyable experience (you can probably ascertain my leanings on this topic).

Still, the Gatehouse Gazette has tackled another challenging topic, including inviting numerous individuals to provide op-ed pieces to the newest edition (though I have to question his choices, after seeing the person he tapped for page six of the editorials)!

To read the latest issue, please turn to:  http://www.ottens.co.uk/gatehouse/

To jump into the brier thicket known as the "Great Steampunk Debate", please visit:  http://www.greatsteampunkdebate.com/forum/
(Don't forget to comment on the off-topic "Tea or Coffee" thread!)