The Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian eras were a great time for world exploration and adventure. For Steampunk writers those explorations make for wonderful adventures for our books. The South and North Pole conjure up visions of all types of dangerous adventure.
Not only was the famed Norwegian polar explorer, Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole but he also was the first to fly over the North Pole, and he did so in a dirigible in 1926.
From the snow to the sand, one of my favorite Egyptologist, Jean François Champollion, journeyed to Egypt, as one of the four members of the Franco-Tuscan Expedition, in 1827. Of course he is primarily known for deciphering the rosettea stone and unlocking the knowledge and history of the ancients Egyptians. Jean Francois Champollion is also the first curator of the Egyptian collection at the Louvre. Another great Egyptologist of the day was the Italian strongman Giovani-Battista Belzoni, beginning in 1817, he used the hydraulic engine he invented to help excavate Egyptian tombs and temples.
Another famed archeologist of the day was the German adventurer, Heinrich Schliemann. Using a copy of Homer’s The Illiad as his guide, he excavated the ancient city of Troy in 1871, searching for Priam’s treasure. He discovered the remains of eleven cities built on top of each other. The relics he found included a cache of gold and silver, including earrings, necklaces, and even diadems that might have been worn by a queen.
Just the words – lost city- conjure up mystery and adventure and there were wonderful finds in the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian periods. In 1812, the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, brought international attention to the lost city of Petra, built of incredible stone structures carved into the actual rock of Mount Hor in Jordan. Shortly after that, in 1818, General Taylor discovered the sacred pillars, palaces, temples, and monasteries of Sanchi in India. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, it’s the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence. Then, in 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham revealed the jungle enshrouded lost City of the Incas, an amazing pre-Columbian site, Machu Picchu, built on a mountain ridge, 7,970 feet above sea level.
Regarding unexplored lands, we cannot forget the adventures of David Livingstone, well known for his rescue by his fellow explorer, Henry Stanley, during an 1865 expedition to Africa in an attempt to find the source of the Nile.
Speaking of Africa you may have seen a great Stemapunk discovery associated with it, a twist of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan tale of a man raised by apes. If you make the rounds of Steampunk Cons you may have seen the amazing educated ape, Rupert Cornelius. I recently spotted him at Aetherfest in San Antonio, Texas. He also visits youtube quite frequently. Here’s a link to one of his shows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdjRNPS0Ifs&feature=relmfu.
Influenced by the amazing discoveries of the day, adventure fiction surged in popularity in the Victorian era, especially in the penny dreadfuls of the time. Adventures are just as popular today and are a perfect cross-genre match for Steampunk literature.