Archive for April, 2013

Dawn Donati

Dawn Donati

As I stand on the  deck of the airship, I welcome Steampunk Stained Glass Artist, Dawn Donati. With an animated wave, she hikes up her stunning gold skirt then fluidly  leaps over the gap between the dock and airship.

“You’re just in time for tea.” I show her into the parlor where she eases onto the cushioned settee with the claw feet as I sink into the armchair across from her. “I can’t wait to see your unique and gorgeous Stained Glass art. So much work and thought goes into creating glass art.  Please take us thorough the process. Give us an idea of the different elements, tools, skill and creativity involved.”

The engine purrs and the china teacups on the coffee table rattle as the airship begins lift off. Speaking over the noise, Dawn answers,”Choosing the texture to provoke thought and the right color to suggest emotion is where I start. I look upon all the found objects I have collected: copper tubing, brass buttons, metal findings, industrial pieces of machines, old clocks I have taken apart, anything I can solder and apply to my stained glass as a sculpture.”

I grab the armrests of my chair as the airship gains altitude. “Your art is so beautiful but I know  glass is a difficult and challenging medium to work in. What drew you to the art of stained glass?”

Now that the tea cups cease rattling, Dawn leans toward the coffee table and lifting the blue willow tea pot, she pours a cup of steaming tea. “The translucency of glass, the fact that it is a liquid and solid all at the same time and the history of stained glass, the story it tells.” Dawn holds her teacup up and smiles. “A stained glass  window in the morning light with your cup of tea looks different at dinner time. That is what draws me to stained glass.”

“How intriguing.” I brim my teacup full and take a dainty sip. “What are the biggest challenges in working with stained glass?”

Dawn reaches her slender fingers between the plate of sliced lemons and the spouted creamer of milk to the sugar bowl. Picking up a white cube, she plunks it into her tea “The biggest challenge working in the medium of glass is heat fractures creating three dimensional sculptures, as in boxes, can pose difficult. The end result is worth it. Quite a few of my boxes have moving parts: airship propellers that spin, gears that engage and have a function. Maintaining the integrity of the found object while making it function and remain secure is a standard I strive for when creating my art.”

I take a sip of my earl grey. “And you do that so well.  Your three dimensional sculptures, your stained glass boxes, are incredible. What do you like about the box form?”

Dawn sets her cup on its saucer with a soft clink. “I like to think of my boxes as functional pieces of conversational art. Yes, some can be used as a jewelry box, however I also see them as a centerpiece on a table to spark an engaging discussion. Take the beauty and fascination of stained glass off the window and bring it into your hand.”

“How marvelous. Truly, they are not only boxes but art sculptures. They could certainly spark the premise for a story. Imagine in a fiction tale, what incredibly special object or message might they contain.” I set my cup in its saucer on the mahogany coffee table. “You must have been working with art for a long time. At what age did you realize you wanted to be an artist?”

“I have traveled all over working art fairs, helping vendors. At 14 I was gifted to see metal smithing and pottery done out in the open in the forest  at week long events.  I fell in love with the traveling artists and their craft.”

“It’s so wonderful to hear how childhood experinces at art and craft fairs helped shape you into this amazing artist.” I glance at the coffee table at the sound of rattling and clinking. “I see the teacups are shaking. I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one last question. How did your first become interested in Steampunk?”

Dawn grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the shaky landing. “Along my travels, some of the vending I did was in Victorian reenactment. I am well versed in the clothing aspect.  Steampunk was a natural progression for me. What intrigues me is the inventions, the people who create them and the stories they tell. The community, the ingenuity and historical knowledge of the artists is just delightful.

I have noticed the steampunk movement is growing I see it all over in art, clothing, movies. It’s fun to see peoples interpretation of what steampunk is. Or maybe I’m just so immersed myself such a hopeless romantic for the opulence of this movement there is no saving me.

For my next endeavor, I want to bring stained glass into steampunk as a noticed art form.   How Victorian is stained glass. Take steamed powered concepts, add a splash of industrial machinery, a dash of filigree embellishment and there you have  steampunk stained glass…. well that is what my minds eye would like to see.  I am working on my kaleidoscope and a signature piece.”

“I can’t wait to see them.” But for now the airship Steamed has landed so I must way farewell to Dawn. But you can visit her anytime. Here are her calling cards: Esty Shop, Webstite Facebook

Maeve Alpin is the author of four Steampunk/Romances: To Love A London Ghost, Conquistadors In Outer Space, As Timeless As Stone, and As Timeless As Magic.

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Today is the final day of Steampunkapalloza. Thank you so much for helping us celebrate Steamed’s 4th birthday.  I can’t believe we’ve been running this for FOUR years–and we couldn’t do it without you.

Today I have a very special post, an interview with James Blaylock, one of the founding fathers of Steampunk.  His new steampunk release The Aylesford Skull is available from Titan Books as both a trade paperback and as a special, signed, first edition.

The great folks at Titan have given me a copy of The Aylesford Skull for one of you!!! One lucky person will win! (see below for details.)
Suzanne: Welcome to Steamed! Can you tell us what the story of your recent release is about?

Ayelsford Skull Main 2_1.jpg.size-230James Blaylock: That’s a tough question, because the novel is full of plot turns, and I don’t want to give too much away.  Even the jacket copy is a spoiler, to some extent.  The main character, Professor Langdon St. Ives (featured in other novels, novellas, and stories that I’ve written over the past 35 years) has semi-retired from adventuring and is a gentleman farmer, growing hops in Aylesford, Kent.  Loathsome crimes occur in the area, however, and he begins to suspect that his old nemesis, Doctor Narbondo, is up to no good.  His new, comfortable life very shortly flies to pieces, and he and a cast of characters become embroiled in personal and world-threatening conflicts involving river pirates, dirigibles, grave robbery, magically altered skulls, kidnappings, swamps, Neolithic coal, paranormal chicanery, and so forth – heaps of things that the reader has been anxiously awaiting without, perhaps, being aware of it.

S: Where did you get the ideas for this story?

JB: I do a lot of research when I’m writing Steampunk, and I find myself abruptly influenced by odds and ends of things that I discover in the moment and that I knew nothing at all about two minutes earlier.  I’m also continually influenced by the books that lie around on my desk, and that I read over and over again for the pleasure of it.  I’m a fan, for instance, of the novels and stories of Patrick O’Brian and for the short stories of James Norman Hall in the collection titled Dr. Dogbody’s Leg.  I tend to reread The Pickwick Papers and whatever volume of Sherlock Holmes stories is closest at hand.  All these books are close at hand, in fact, in the “favorite books” bookshelves over the desk.  It’s often been the case that I run across throwaway ideas in the things that I read for pleasure: a mention of this or that, or a brief bit of intriguing setting detail.  When that happens, sometimes something useful will come into my mind, which I immediately clutch with both hands and hold onto.  Also, I’m crazy about old reference books that contain fascinating information that’s long out of fashion, one of my favorites being Wonders of the Universe, a Record of Things Wonderful and Marvelous in Nature, Science and Art (which has a very convincing chapter on plesiosaur sightings).  That one piqued my interest in Japanese magic mirrors, which set off a train of strange notions in my mind, resulting in the skull lamps featured in The Aylesford Skull.

S: This is the next in a series, right? How did this series come to be?

JB: That’s a moderately long tale that goes back to 1977, when I wrote a short story titled “The Ape-box Affair” and sold it to Unearth magazine.  That was my second sale as a fledgling professional writer, and it became the first Steampunk story published in the U.S.  (Actually, K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers and I were all writing that sort of stuff in our own ways, but I lucked into print first.) I was on a Robert Louis Stevenson binge at the time and had recently read The New Arabian Nights and The Dynamiter, and it came into my mind to write a wrong-box story – several similar boxes abroad in London that get mixed up.  I was also crazy for P.G. Wodehouse, and my head was full of the sound of his prose and the voices of his goofy characters.  I had no idea at the time, but the characters I created in “The Ape-box Affair” would keep surfacing often enough in the following years that very soon they became series characters.  They’re more fully drawn now and far more active than they ever were in the past.

S: You’re one of the “founding fathers’ of Steampunk, can you tell us a little about how Steampunk came to be?

JB: K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers, and I were friends (still are) in the 1970s.  After we graduated from the university, we were young enough and idle enough to have time to hang around with each other during the day.  We were all new writers at the time.  I had published my first short story, and Tim and K.W. had sold novels.  I was enthusiastically working on an impossible novel, which I would figure out how to write several years later as The Digging Leviathan.  All of us were big on Victorian literature.  K.W., who had a degree (I seem to remember) in sociology, had read Henry Mayhew’s brilliant London Labour and the London Poor, and was regaling us with wild accounts of treasures and feral pigs in the London sewers and that sort of thing.  Tim was researching and writing the novel that would become The Drawing of the Dark, and K.W. was writing Morlock Night.  Much of our “research” went on at O’Hara’s Pub in downtown Orange, California, where I lived at the time and still do.  (I mean I live in Orange, not at O’Hara’s Pub.)  K.W. and Tim were living in a bohemian sort of neighborhood  in nearby Santa Ana, where Phil Dick was living at the time.  None of us had the idea of writing any particular sort of thing at all.  It simply seemed right and natural to set a story where the story seemed to want to be set, and all-things-Victorian were on our minds.  It was nearly a decade after “The Ape-Box Affair” and Morlock Night were published that K.W. would coin the term Steampunk, which abruptly gave shape to the whole thing.  Up until then we had no idea that these novels and stories formed any sort of science fiction subgenre.  We weren’t trying to achieve anything much beyond publishing stories and novels.  We might as easily have been writing pirate fantasies (which would come later for me, unsuccessfully, and for Powers, successfully) or vegetarian thrillers or protozoan stories like Twain’s “The Great Dark,” which I was also fond of at the time.  We might easily be Piratepunks or Vegetarianpunks or Pondwaterpunks now.

S: How have you seen Steampunk evolve from when you first started writing to now?

JB: It certainly has changed, largely by growth and the odd and interesting business of its having affected pretty much all the arts by now.  Whatever literary tastes a reader might have, he or she can find Steampunk examples of that thing in growing abundance.  As for my own writing, however, I’m doing the same thing today that I did 35 years ago when I wrote “The Ape-box Affair.”  If the writing has evolved, it has evolved in the sense that I’m a better writer now.  I bring 35 years worth of stuff to my writing that I couldn’t bring to it back then.  My ear for the language is better, I do more adequate research, I work harder to get rid of anachronism, etc.

S: Are you a plotter or a pantster? Can you tell us a little about your writing style/schedule?

JB: I’m an inveterate outliner, actually: I’m very nervous about promising a story or a novel to a publisher without having a fairly clear idea of what it will entail.  Over the years I’ve sold most of my books after showing the outlines to editors, and that was the case with The Aylesford Skull, my first novel to be published by Titan Books.  I was happy to provide evidence that I actually had a story to tell, and that Titan could safely advance money to me.  That being said, I’ve always hidden the outlines away in the drawer once I’ve finished them, and most of what develops in the novel is purely organic.  My best ideas come into my mind during the writing, when I’m not actively looking for them.  The outline abdicates once the writing starts, because if the outline is on my mind, then fresh ideas have a harder time finding their way in.  I wish I had a writing schedule, actually.  Currently I teach full time at Chapman University, and I also direct the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County School of the Arts (where Tim Powers teaches poetry and novel writing).  So during the school year you can find me frantically driving around town, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch while flying from one place to another.  I’m up at 5 a.m. and often put in 12-hour days, but there’s no time to write during most of them.  So I grab time during vacations and over the summer.  When I’m up against it, my weekends disappear into whatever I’m writing, and I take reference books and etc. along on vacations.  Like most writers, sitting down to write is a frustratingly wasted effort unless I have a several-hour block of time in a moderately quiet house – enough time to read something relevant for half an hour first to compose my mind.  The Aylesford Skull took two years to write.

S: What’s next? Can you share anything with us about any new projects (in any genre)?

JB: I’ve just turned in another Steampunk novel to Subterranean Press – a short novel that’s a companion to my two previous Sub Press productions: The Ebb Tide and The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs.  This new one is titled The Adventure of the Ring of Stones.  I’d chat about it here, but in many ways it beggars description.  I’m also working up a new novel for Titan Books, which (I’m fairly sure) will tie up a loose end in The Aylesford Skull, although the tying up is only a very small fraction of what the novel will be.  Also, a few months back I published a young adult novel titled Zeuglodon, the True Adventures of Kathleen Perkins, Cryptozoologist, and I’ve got the plot for a followup adventure in my mind.  That book really wants to be written.  In short, I’ve got too many writing projects vying for my time.

S: Anything else you want to tell everyone?

JB: Only that readers are my favorite people, and that if they read my books, I hope they enjoy them.  Also, and maybe more vitally, I read recently that a meteor is going to take out the earth in another 25 years.  It’s hurtling toward us as we speak, giving us the glad eye.  So whatever you really want to do, don’t put it off.

–Cheers, Jim Blaylock


James Paul Blaylock  is noted for a distinctive, humorous style, as well as being one of the pioneers of the steampunk genre. Despite his close association with Steampunk, most of his work is contemporary, realistic fantasy set in southern California, typified by books like The Last Coin, The Rainy Season, and Knights of the Cornerstone. When he’s not teaching or writing, Jim spends his time going to the beach, gardening, working on the family home in Orange, California, traveling, and building sets for local community theaters.


To win The Aylesford Skull just leave a comment below. Open internationally. Contest closes May 7, 2013 at 11:59 pm PST. 


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out not, CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. Vist www.aetherchronicles.com for more info.


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As a contributing author in Shanghai Steam & the Steamfunk! Anthology, Ray Dean enjoys writing about many different cultures. Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality (http://raydean.net), explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that influence the Steampunk world.

The Pacific Commercial Observer 
29 April, 18–
by Ray Dean

advertIt has come to this humble reporter’s attention that a rash of attacks perpetrated on women touring seaside locales has not given rise to widespread panic. The reason? A simple cure created by the world renowned chemist, Dr. Oh!

“I truly had no idea why such a thing was even needed,” heiress Wilhemina Chatsworth informed us as she lounged in the sitting room of her rented flat. Her feet pillowed on a richly brocaded ottoman, Miss Chatsworth made some mention of her injury. “I am able to move about on my own,” she assured me, “most likely I would have suffered a much greater injury had my most able companion not leapt to my defense.”

At such time, she did indicate the woman standing a few feet away. Dressed in a sensible day dress of woolens, the woman of indeterminate age and unremarkable looks stepped forward.

When asked for her name, the woman demurred, insisting that her actions were nothing out of the normal. That any other person, armed with Dr. Oh’s Octopodiform Deterrent, would be able to protect someone in their acquaintance from such an attack.

The atomizer, she explained, was one that contained an ample supply of the deterrent. Displaying the conveniently sized bottle, one that we are assured fits easily into a moderately sized reticule, she demonstrated how easy it was to use.

London Weekly Record
21 June, 18–

The shores of Lyme are known for their dark beauty and wild waves. Many flock to the town to experience the majesty of the ocean, but a sinister shadow now lies beneath the waves. A shadow with eight appendages has terrorized both visitors and denizens alike.

While many pressed for an increase of police at the water’s edge, the local constabulary asked that any visits to the Cobb be postponed until the danger had abated. On any given day, nearly a score of visitors could be found treading the slick stones beside the water.

One such visitor, a young woman by the name of Philomena Prentiss, was nearly dragged into the sea by the fearsome shadow.

As a few visitors raised the alarm and called for assistance, Miss Prentiss watched in horror as a second tentacle snaked out of the waves and wrapped around her wrist.

A gentleman nearby, who asked to remain nameless, gave the young woman great praise for her quick thinking and quicker hands.

“Even with the unwelcome attention of the mysterious beast, the young lady was able to loosen the strings of her purse and from its dainty confines withdraw a smart-looking bottle. One spritz and the creature rushed out to sea before the tides!”

When Miss Prentiss divulged where she had purchased the bottle of Dr. Oh’s Octopodiform Deterrent, the shopkeeper was soon sold out of the miraculous product and planning on ordering a number of cases for his stock.

ETSY listing –

~Ray Dean



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Veronique Chevalier, aka The “Weird Val” of Dark Cabaret, is a woman of many hats. Literally, as well as figuratively. She’s an Entertainer/MC/Panelist who’s plied her trade at Steampunk & Comic Book events the width and breadth of the US. A self-proclaimed “Mad Sonictist”, she’s gained notoriety for her parodies on the theme of Steam, & she roguishly appropriates the tune-age of everyone from The Beatles to Thomas Dolby. MAD Veronique also holds the dubious distinction of originating Gothic Polka, with her recording “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation” which was an Official Selection on the 51st Annual Grammy Ballot. She shall soon be releasing a volume of steampunk haiku, with full-color illustrations by Walter Sickert; and she was also the 2012 Recipient of The Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Award for “Best Dressed Female Steampunk”. Visit Veronique’s Website at http://WeirdVal.com


Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue
by Veronique Chevalier

gearheartsErotica, just as any other human creative endeavour, is in the eye of the beholder. Fortunately, for those of us who prefer to let the organ between our eyes fill in the blanks for us, there is Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue.

Published by comic book company Antarctic Press, this quarterly photo pin-up mag features compelling images of steampunk-attired ladies (and in Issue #5, gents only). Also, featured are book, music & film reviews; interviews; illustration; and various forms of literary expression. Many of the models are contributors to the content, rather than being relegated to being merely ornamental.

Some of the noteworthy array of steampunks, who have been featured between the covers of the various issues thus far, are authors O.M. Grey, & Gail Carriger; illustrator Brian Kesinger; cosplayer/personality John F. Strangeway, aka “Steampunk Boba Fett”, and Yours Truly (pictured here, on the cover of Issue #6).

Editor Guy Brownlee and his staff are to be commended, especially Patricia Ash, who is a most adept pen-slinger, indeed.

Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue is available at most comic book emporiums across North America, and may also be purchased online, directly from the publisher thus:
http://www.antarctic-press.com/html/version_01/store.php?id=Gearhearts You may also go to the main page of their online store, scroll down to where all the titles are divided up by creator, and find it under “Guy Brownlee, Tim Collier” or just search the text string “Gearhearts” on the page. They still have copies of all issues, including #1, available!


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by Kassy Tayler
ashes_coverImagine what would happen if a comet came to close to earth in the mid 1800’s.  Astronomers saw it coming and knew it would lead to the ultimate destruction of everything in its path.  Who would the world chose to save?  And how would they save them?
In Ashes Of Twilight a group of scientists in England built a dome on the coast of Wales to save the royal family, along with the peerage of that time.  How did they survive in the dome when the world burned?  By the power of steam.
My heroine, Wren MacAvoy mines the coal that keeps the dome alive.  But after 200 years the society within has become stagnant and the mines are running out of coal.  Imagine living out your life in a place where there is no option beyond what you are destined to do because of where you are born.  The royals stay royals and the workers stay workers.  There is no chance for advancement and no option to do anything else.  Wouldn’t you want to escape that?


Writing about a world that was changed 200 years ago was a challenge but it was also a joy to stretch my imagination.  How did people survive inside a dome?  There had to be fans to keep the air cool, but there also had to be a system in place to feed them.  Gardens were placed on rooftops to grow fruits and vegetables.  Animals lived out their lives in tiny pens.  And underground, where Wren and the “shiners” lived, they figured out a way to have power from waterwheels because having a fire in the mines is dangerous due to the buildup of methane gas.

Ashes Of Twilight is a story about Wren’s start of a revolution and eventual escape from the dome.  But it comes at a steep price and just because she accomplished her goal does not mean that life will be easy.
So what about life outside the dome?  In the second book in the series, Shadows Of Glass, there are airships when a group of explorers from America arrive.  But there is also the different geography of the world.  Continents have changed due to the melting of the polar ice caps.  The world is renewed with new growth after the fires.  But it is also a savage place and the people who were once sheltered inside the dome have to learn how to survive in it.
remnants_of_tomorrowWriting Steampunk isn’t so much about the gadgets.  It is about a world where technology stayed on one track instead of taking a turn with the invention of the light bulb.  (Imagine if Edison had not been born). It’s about people who think this is the norm, and their lives, struggles, losses and victories.  Steam is as normal to them as cars and planes and cell phones are to us.
Luckily, we live in a world where invention of new and better things is the norm.  For Wren, invention and change was frowned upon.  So she fought for something better.
I hope you enjoy Ashes Of Twilight.  Comment and I will give away an ARC of the sequel, Shadows of Glass, coming July 23 to one lucky poster.  Be sure to look for the conclusion, Remnants of Tomorrow.

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Jared Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that he’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it. He is a founding member of the daily flash-fiction website 365 TOMORROWS, and the writer and producer of two science-fiction podcasts, “The Voice Of Free Planet X” and the serial “Aliens You Will Meet.”


I Prefer My Steam Punked

by Jared Axelrod

battle-bloodink-coverAshe, the protagonist on my graphic novel THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK is young, angry and poor. She spends half the book homeless. She spends the entirety of it trying to bring down an unjust government. Like the punk musicians and journalists of the last quarter of the 20th Century, Ashe believes in the power of violent speech to change the culture. She’s going to be heard, even if that means speaking with the volume and power of an explosion.

Ashe is a punk, or in the parlance of her world, a clouddog. She’s the rabble the upper crust dismisses, and her journey to be heard is the main thrust of the book.

Steampunk exists in a weird place. There is a lot to recommend it. The outfits are sexy, the DIY underpinning is marvelous, and the 19th  Century itself was a time of exploration and discovery the world over. All of this makes for a fantastic fictional setting. But it also takes an overwhelming amount of inspiration from an increasingly narrow cultural conceit. The use of “Victorian” and “Edwardian” to describe steampunk is especially problematic. Not only because countries other than Great Brittan  had a 19th century, but because tying the genre to white European royalty is exclusionary on both a racial and class level. I’m sure people who refer to steampunk as “Victorian Science-Fiction,” don’t mean to exclude people, but sadly the language does it for them.

B+I-001-largeI often wonder, though, if perhaps the biggest issue is that the exclusionary element IS part of the appeal of steampunk. I’m not saying that people get into steampunk because they want to be exclusionary. But it’s easy to fall into a focus on the upper class, and allow the dress and mannerisms of a wealthy Victorian to be celebrated. Even the scientists and explorer characters fit with in this umbrella, as those were the occupations of people of privilege.

This is understandable. Who doesn’t want to be part of a ruling class, even if only for afternoon? Or in time it takes to read a novel or short story? There’s no fun in dying of cholera, either, the end result of many a 19th century rabble rouser.


But  there is so much to mine beyond wealthy Brits sipping tea and wielding rayguns. There’s one hundred years of history full of punk concepts! Things like cholera riots, gold rushes, suffrage  wars abroad and at home, and the fight for the right of entire subsets of humanity to be treated as people. The status quo was challenged often in the 19th century, and often violently, and those challenges gave us the world we live in today.


Ashe’s flying city home of Amperstam is a fantastical place, set above a fantasy world. But within it is the grit and grime of police brutality, child-labor, kidnapping, torture, assassinations and everything else that kept an Industrial-Age city alive. And she’s fighting against, the only way she knows how. By making sure she’s heard.

I got a brand-spanking new paperback copy of THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK. Leave a comment with your favorite punk character in steampunk fiction, and I’ll pick on at random and send you a copy!




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Caitlin Kittredge writes both YA and adult books including The Iron Codex series. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. Visit her website at www.caitlinkittredge.com to learn more.


The Finish Line

by Caitlin Kittredge

itcoversmallI read a lot about starting a steampunk story—how to worldbuild, how to create compelling characters, how to mix up timelines and history to make a unique, compelling universe—but I don’t see much about endings.

The last book in my Iron Codex trilogy was released in February  and while I’m sad to have the journey end—as any writer would be—I never intended the series to be more than three books. I always had an end in mind, a destination for the journey. I don’t think that’s necessary—some of the best writers I know start with no end in sight and figure it out as they go. But I knew these characters and their world had a single story to tell, and then I’d exit gracefully.

ngcoversmallYet, as I drew to the end of writing The Mirrored Shard, I found myself leaving little things open. Aoife, Dean and Cal get their endings—some happy, some not so happy—and the plot that carried me for three books wrapped up, but I left more ends open than I anticipated. Was I just being wistful? Maybe. But I think it’s a sign that maybe I didn’t say quite all I had to say about the world of the Iron Codex. Maybe there’s a short story, or a novella in my future. I can’t say!

I like little openings for future stories scattered here and there in the natural arc of the story I’m actually telling. I don’t like ambiguous endings. I blame a childhood of serial stories, mostly in comic book form, that led me to be the sort of writer who has to leave a few trails of breadcrumbs here and there for alternate storylines.

The Mirrored ShardI tried to strike a good balance in Mirrored Shard—all the major threads ending where I’d always intended them to. But there’s still one large element left without resolution at the end of Mirrored Shard, and that’s absolutely on purpose. In another time, with another set of characters, this could absolutely be its own series. I’ve only ended one series before the Iron Codex, and since those stories were serial, not really connected, it was very different. The heroine got her ending, the plot wrapped up, and everyone could pretty much go home happy (except the bad guys, of course.) This time, I like to think I was smarter, and left myself with another story to tell, a small door left open to sneak back into this world I’ve devoted close to half a decade to writing in, imagining, dreaming about.

Like I said, maybe I’m just wistful. I love steampunk and Victoriana, so I know I’m definitely nostalgic!  But maybe in the future I’ll get another chance to go back to the start with a new set of characters and revisit Aoife’s world, explore that last thread left loose. Loose threads, after all, beg to be pulled and they exist in all of my favorite books. Tantalizing possibilities that, once explored, can lead to brave new worlds of their own.




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The progeny of a slightly mad (NASA) scientist and a tea-drinking bibliophile who turned the family dining room into a library, Theresa Meyers learned early the value of a questioning mind, books and a good china teapot. A former journalist and public relations officer, she found far more enjoyment using her writing skills to pen paranormal novels in the turret office of her Victorian home. She’s spent nearly a quarter of a century with the boy who took her to the Prom, drinks tea with milk and sugar, is an adamant fan of the television show Supernatural, and has an indecent love of hats. You can find her dabbling online on twitter at www.twitter.com/Theresa_Meyers or at www.theresameyers.com

Blending Steampunk and Paranormal Romance
by Theresa Meyers

TheChosen (1)There’s something inherently fascinating about bringing two distinctive things together to create something new. Take Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Chocolate, perfect in its own right and deserving of a food group all its own. Peanut butter, the staple of probably more than half of the school kid lunches in America on every given day. Both all on their own fantastic, but when put together, well, the angels sing.

That’s what blending steampunk and paranormal romance is for me as a writer, and it’s why I wove them both into my Legend Chronicles series. I love both as their own thing, but when merged into one story, it’s simply irresistible. It also makes my steampunk world a little different bend than most. Yes, of course there are the wonders of science, the mad genius, the spirit of adventure, but there’s also a darkly mystical side to my world. My heroes in the Legend Chronicles, three brothers named after their father’s favorite guns, are supernatural hunters in the Wild Weird West.

Winchester, Remington and Colt have been trained to hunt down and destroy the Darkin that threaten humanity. So while regular people go about their daily lives, these guys don’t bat an eye-lash when it comes to fighting down demons, slay shape-shifters, battling hell-hounds or going up against ghosts. They just do it with some fantastical steampunk help, such as Colt’s clockwork horse, Tempus, Sting Shooters (that are steampunk, Tesla-coil-powered tasers) and the specially designed Darkin-killing bullets perfected by their inventor friend Marley Turlock. They know that while ordinary people might not see the ending of the world coming, they are the first, last and only defense in making sure humanity survives.

Part of what I love about steampunk is the essence that anything was possible if you were just curious, adventurous or determined enough to make it happen. It’s accepting that we can be more, do more, than we ever thought possible by reimagining the past as it could have happened. I love the clothing, the elegance and intricacy that was part of the Gilded Age. I’ve a bit of a Victoriana nut with a strong love of tea, and I’m a maker in my own right. I sew, design, paint, and can my own home-grown fruits, veggies, sauces and soups, when I’m not out tackling my herb garden. For me steampunk is like the peanut butter. It’s gritty, it’s brown, it’s got a specific flavor you won’t find anywhere else and you know it when you taste it.

With paranormal romance, I’m just as fascinated by the things we can’t see that still influence us. Most of my writing tends to take a paranormal path, likely because when I was little my mother did things like pretend we had elves in the tree stump in the back yard. They even talked under my window one night—which I later found out in my 20s was due to a tape-recorder. She made my brother and I believe in the magic all around us and I still have that rose-colored tint to how I look at the world today. But if there’s one thing about the paranormal I’ve learned, it’s that there’s balance. Dark must have light to survive and vice versa. And with paranormal romance, the ending is always sweetly satisfying. You know the good guys win and that love can conquer all. Paranormal romance is like chocolate. It’s dark, it’s varied, the subtle changes and flavors are nearly endless and when done right it can be an experience you can’t get enough of.

So when it comes to blending steampunk and paranormal romance, it’s not just about the fantastic inventions or goggles, nor is it about the balancing act between the dark and light forces of the paranormal world and the power of love. It’s a bit of both, blended together to create a flavor of fiction that’s something familiar but also completely different. That’s what I’ve tried to accomplish in my Legend Chronicles series, but you may have to taste it yourself to find out.

In the comments, tell me what your favorite elements of paranormal romance and steampunk are for a chance to win a copy of THE CHOSEN, the third book in the Legend Chronicles series.


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 Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 16 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Character interview with a Hero:

Connor MacKay, from Cards & Caravans

By Cindy Spencer Pape

What was your life like growing up? 

Cards&Caravans_finalI had a grand childhood, the only son of a Knight of the Round Table, knowing I could grow up to be a Knight myself. My two sisters kept me on my toes, along with the Irish wolfhounds my family raises at Kay’s Tower, our Scottish Lowland estate. Living in an age of steam power and magickal abilities, I’ve always known that anything could happen.

Before the action in the book, what were your plans/hopes for the future? 

Well, at one time, I planned to marry Miss Winifred Hadrian, but she fell in love with that werewolf copper, Liam McCullough. I thought myself broken-hearted and threw all my energy into my work for the Order, helping keep Britain safe from vampyres and the like.

What changed that? 

Ah, then I met Belinda, about to be burned for a witch. Although I married her to save her from that fate, I soon discovered that I’d never really been in love before.

How would you describe your personality? 

Most folks think I’m a devil-may-care adventurer, always full of jokes and antics. My Belinda knows I have a serious side. I’ll fight to the death for the people I care about.

Do you have a motto or code you live by? 

Well, now, the code of chivalry was a strong part of my upbringing as a Knight. Mostly I believe in protecting those who need it and being kind to anyone less fortunate than myself.

What one thing would you take to a desert island? 

Other than a working airship? Or my bride? I suppose my sword. Pistols run out of ammunition.

Where would you go on vacation? 

Vacation, you say? (Scratches head.) Oh, you mean a holiday. Well, we go down to London from time to time. I visit my sister Genny and her family in the Hebrides.Other than that? Anywhere Belinda wants to go is fine with me.

What is your most distinguishing characteristic? 

I suppose the hair, which my mother calls auburn and my father calls ginger. I’m a big man, but neither of those is uncommon among Scots. Belinda says I have nice knees when I’m clad in a kilt.

What is your major skill or talent? 

I’m a decent hand with magick, sword, or pistol.

What’s your favorite color? Favorite food? 

Green I suppose, for the rolling hills of my home, or the soft purple of the heather. As for favorite food, I’ve a sneaking fondness for sugared walnuts.

If you had to pick another career, what would it be? 

Well, I’m not much for literature or the sciences, but I suppose Liam would take me on as a constable if I asked nicely.

What’s on your bucket list?

(After having that term explained, Connor shrugs.) I’d like to see my children grow up. Travel a bit. Experience all the new adventures the age of steam has to offer.

Who are your closest friends? 

Sir Tom Devere, a fellow knight of about my own age. His foster family, the Hadrians, especially now that I no longer think I’m in love with Winifred. Her husband, Liam, is a good friend as well.

Who do you love? 

My Belinda. Our future children. My parents, grandparents, nephew and sisters.

What are your future plans? 

One day I’ll inherit the family estate and my grandfather’s baronetcy. I already help manage the lands. Between that and hopefully moving up within the Order, I ought to have a busy life. All I really care is that Belinda is by my side.


About the BookCards & Caravans is book 5 in the Gaslight Chronicles steampunk romance series, and releases from Carina Press on March 18. Find out more at:


BlurbBelinda Danvers isn’t a witch. But that won’t stop them burning her at the stake…

Connor McKay can tell at a glance that Belinda’s magickal powers are minimal at best. She can’t be guilty of murdering village children. There’s something suspicious about her arrest and lightning-quick sentence. Unfortunately, telling anyone how he knows would mean revealing his own powers. He’s been sent by the Order of the Round Table to help and he can’t just let her die.

Escaping from jail and running from vindictive villagers in her grandfather’s steam-powered caravan is more excitement than Belinda’s had in years. And despite the danger–or maybe because of it–she loves the time spent with her sexy rescuer. But there’s more to his magick than he’s letting on…

There’s something going on that’s bigger than the two of them. It’s time for good to make a stand.

Review: 4 Stars from Romantic Times: “All the trappings of a good steampunk novel are here…but most enchanting of all is the love that develops between the hero and heroine.


Catch Cindy online at:

Website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com (http://bit.ly/ybxKjP )

Blog: http://cindyspencerpape.blogspot.com/

Newsletter group: http://yhoo.it/ni7PHo

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CindySPape

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/gjbLLC

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One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and the fantasy of a dog. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.

Steampunk Is: Web Comics that Inspire

by Karina Cooper

Steampunk is. You’ve probably seen Suzi tossing this hashtag around on Twitter, and it remains one of my favorite calls to action out there. Steampunk is. When it comes to the community at large, steampunk is whatever inspires you to be steampunk—whatever your little brain can concoct and make and wear and write and create and do.

One of the most beautiful aspects of steampunk is the fact that the aesthetic is as much personal as it is community-shaped. For example, musically speaking, there are folks who are inspired by death metal, by classical music, by musicians who style themselves as steampunk, and by more modern bands with no real ties to steampunk at all. My own steampunk-inspiration playlist has zero styled steampunk artists on it, can you believe it? Yet this is what I listen to as I get all dressed up for events and galas.

So, with the field wide open, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite steampunk-inspiring web comics, whether or not they actually qualifies as steampunk.

Girl Genius: How can we possibly talk about comics without touching on this classic gaslamp fantasy? Kaja and Phil Folio started this comic years ago, before steampunk lit up the mainstream world with its awesomeness. The rich detail, the crazy items, and the downright insanity of the plot has made Girl Genius the only comic that I have read dedicatedly for years.

Shadowbinders: This is a fairly new addiction to my web comics list, but I’m hooked on the story. Revolving around a magic ring that teleports a modern-day girl back and forth between Earth and a fantasy world, it has all the hallmarks of a steampunk adventure: airships, magic, and more!

Teahouse: (NSFW) This is not even remotely your classic kind of steampunk tale. In fact, there are many who might say there’s no steampunk to it at all. Yet there’s something about this amazingly drawn art, from the lush detail to the gorgeous coloring, that inspires my steampunk senses like whoa. It’s an LGBT comic (focusing heavily on yaoi, but with other relationships present) and the style—something I can only describe as manga roots with a lush, almost French delicacy to it—blows my little creative mind.

Namesake: This is a fairy tale comic gone awry. There’s absolutely nothing in this you could call steampunk easily, but reading it really inspires my steampunk brain. From the crazy adventures in familiar worlds to the use magic and what I’d call alchemy, I love reading this comic and walking away with all these new ideas. Is it the re-imagining of fairy tales? The people in these worlds? The art? The theme? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to shape these inspirations into something new!

Unsounded: This was a relatively new find. At the recommendation of Sam Sykes, I gave this comic a glance and have been hooked ever since. It’s primarily fantasy, but there’s something about the style of art, the story, the characters and—naturally—the “magic” fueling synthetic limbs and walking golems that leaves me feeling like I wish I knew how to make things.

And that’s it! So far. I’m always looking to add more to my reading, so what are your favorite steampunk-flavored web comics?



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Today we welcome authors Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso. They both write books in the  ETHER CHRONICLES series. Nico’s books include Night of Fire and Nights of Steel. Zoë’s books include Skies of Fire and Skies of Steel.

Steampunk Cannons

by Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso

Zoë: Thanks so much for having us here today!  Nico and I have been talking a lot about what constitutes steampunk cannon, especially because there are readers and writers of the genre who seek to define what steampunk is and isn’t.  For starters, I think one of the elements of steampunk that really drew Nico and I to write it was how wide open it was as far as interpretation.

I happen to love history, so I enjoy writing about historical aspects within steampunk.  But because we’re writing about alternative history, actual timelines don’t have to be adhered to. On top of which, I can shape social mores to suit my own personal ethos—which means women in more active roles, and a culture that accepts women in positions of power.  This way, I can incorporate certain details about life in another era, but also utilize elements from our own time period (or even a better world than our own) within that historical timeframe.  So in SKIES OF FIRE, Louisa works for British naval intelligence, while in SKIES OF STEEL, Daphne is a anthropologist.  And in SKIES OF GOLD, which comes out this summer, the heroine Kali is an engineer (as well as being half East Indian).  So I can shape history to suit my desires as a writer.

In general, I think the one aspect of steampunk that most writers incorporate is the late-19th century feel and aesthetic.  That might not be canon, but it is widely used. When readers see a cover with men in waistcoats and goggles and women in corsets holding unusual firearms, they understand that they’re going to read a steampunk story.

Nico: Because I’m the main technological inventor for the Ether Chronicles, one of the most consistent elements I try to adhere to are the materials and building techniques for the various steampunk inventions and vehicles.  Even though we’ve created an alternate history, it still has many similarities with the actual end of the 19th century, so I keep things grounded there as much as I can to keep the elements relatable for the reader.

In our world, and in the late Victorian period as well, many technologies were still hand made.  This is especially true for one of a kind experimental projects – like Jack Hawkin’s augmented arm in NIGHTS OF STEEL.  To create these things, I need to use what the inventors at the time had – brass, steel, iron, wood and leather.  Modern materials like aluminum and plexiglass aren’t available the world of the Ether Chronicles.  Neither are construction techniques like CNC part creators or plastic molding.

Some of our technologies are completely made up for our world, like the tetrol fuel used for the most advanced engines, but for the most part, things feel genuine.  That way, the characters can use them on a realistic level, and the reader can understand what each piece of technology does and how it works.  And if I’ve done things right, the reader could even imagine what it feels like to hold one of these inventions and operate all its gears and levers.

Z:  While Nico and I don’t follow an external canon, we stay consistent to the technological and sociological rules created within our alternate history…

N:  While at the same time using some of the landmarks of the actual past to ground them…

Z:  That way, readers can be immersed completely in the stories and feel that they’re real for the characters and themselves.

~ Zoë  and Nico




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I have a deliciously exotic post for you for Steampunkapalooza. Today, April 12, is national licorice day. Those amazing ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the wonders of licorice. Generous amounts of licorice were found in King Tut’s tomb and the use of licorice in an ancient beverage is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Victorians loved licorice. It’s a perfect candy for a tea party. You can place a stick of it in your tea to stir it. Also a crystal dish filled with colorful Licorice Allsorts, a favorite English candy since 1899, will liven up your tea table. Of course licorice was just one of many ancient Egyptian influences on Victorian culture.

Constance Collier as Iras in Ben Hur, 1902

Constance Collier as Iras in Ben Hur, 1902

The Victorians loved costumes and Cleopatra influenced costumes were quite fashionable, used in the theater and to wear to balls. Of course actual Ancient Egyptian clothing and the Victorian idea of it were two different things. Pictured here are actresses Constance Collier, Sarah Bernhardt, and Maud Allan.

Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra in the 1890 production of Victorien Sardou’s Cléopâtre, and on the right, above, Maud Allan as Samone, 1910

Also, Inspired by authentic Victorian fashion plates of Egyptian costumes, the Steam Ingenious Cleopatra fancy dress project is recreating the gown Lady Paget wore to the 1875 Delmonico Ball in New York City. The portrait and photo of Lady Paget in the costume along with several fashion plates of Cleopatra style gowns are pictured on the blog.

The Egyptian Revival period also influenced Victorian furnishings.This chair belonged to Empress Josephine.

Victorians were fascinated with Egyptian mummies and unwrapping parties were quite stylish. George Mann tied Steampunk with mummy unwrapping in a wonderful scene in The Osiris Ritual. Here’s an excerpt from a Victorian mummy unwrapping party in the Steampunk/Romance, As Timeless As Magic.

Mister Mugrage yanked a strip of linen wrapping, tugging it off as he circled the mummy, unraveling it. He withdrew an amulet from the linen gauze and held it up. “Our first party favor. Who wants this lovely turquoise scarab?”

A lady in a large hat and a blue gown fluttered her fan. “I do, Mister Mugrage.”

“Madame Mills, by all means, this little gem is yours. It shall bring you great luck.” Mister Mugrage placed the treasure in the woman’s gloved hand as she giggled with glee.

Heru loosened his cravat before he gagged. The crowd’s thunderous applause fueled his anger. These amulets protected the deceased, helped him find his way in the afterlife, and this ridiculous man handed them out as party favors.

Mister Mugrage continued unraveling the mummy until he came upon the next find, a small hawk carved from blue lapis. He handed it to a man with a protruding belly and white beard, dressed in black trousers, a gray coat, and a green cravat. Heru fought the urge to grab the amulet back from the man‟s chubby fingers.

No sooner had the other guests congratulated the man than Mister Mugrage yanked the wrappings again. “Here we have a hollow gold beetle.” He placed it in Felicity’s hand. “What is this symbol on the top?“

Felicity peered at the golden insect, examining it closely. “Two crossed arrows over a shield, the symbol of Goddess Neith, deity of the hunt.”

“Who will have this fine beetle?” Mister Mugrage flashed a broad grin.

Heru wanted to yell for them to stop as he stood helplessly by, watching a corpse being violated for nothing but the fleeting pleasure of shallow people. He accidentally bit his tongue. He grabbed his jaw, and rubbed it.

A woman held up her dainty hand netted in a lacy glove. Felicity gifted the lady with the beetle amulet.

As Mister Mugrage unwound more linen gauze, he discovered a small statue with the body of a man and the head of a jackal.

“Anubis.” Finally, an idea struck. Heru swiftly stuck out his hand, almost grabbing the amulet. ”May I?” he asked in French.

“Oui.” Mister Mugrage handed it to him.

Heru knew this held the most powerful curse, for the priests who cast spells on the amulets wore the mask of Anubis. He flipped it over and read the hieroglyphic inscription. “You dare to touch this sacred mummy. You mortal man, whose flesh and skull will return to the desert sand. I curse you with the loss of your hands.” Heru clasped the amulet tightly, whispering the spell in Old Egyptian in the parlor just as he would have in the temple of Anubis. “Curse him, who disturbs the dead, who robs what the gods entombed. His hands should be severed if not his head, his cursed fingers doomed.”

“Give me that. Let me read it.” Felicity’s father reached for the amulet to grab it back from Heru. He gasped. His fingers fell limp. Mister Mugrage screamed, “My hands! They are numb, I cannot feel anything.”

Another fun fact, the coolest thing about Steamgyptianpunk is Heron (also called Hero) the Egyptian, in first century AD, invented the steam engine. His aeolipile was the first working steam engine in history.

Along with my  Steamgyptianpunk books, As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic there are several other steampunk books in my home library with Egyptian influences:  The Osiris Ritual by George Mann, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, Timeless by Gail Carriger, and Empire of Ruins by Arthur Slade.

My Contest to celebrate Steampunkapalooza is a giveaway of a pdf eBook of As Timeless As Stone. Leave a comment below and I’ll choose two winners. Please include your email so I can reach you if you are selected.

Here is a book trailer of As Timeless As stone:

Maeve Alpin

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Today we welcome author Kate Milford.

Kate Milford is the author of The Boneshaker, has written for stage and screen, and is a regular travel columnist for the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit www.clockworkfoundry.com.

Go, Steampunk, Go

by Kate Milford

I always feel like I have to start with a disclaimer when I contribute to anything related to steampunk. My books do tend to have steampunky things in them, but this has less to do with a particular interest in most of what makes steampunk steampunk than it has to do with a thing I have for devices—particularly old ones—and how we use them and think about them. I’m obsessed with antiquated technologies, I love mechanical things, and I like to think about technical theory and philosophy, plus most of what I write is historical, so there does tend to be some overlap with steampunk when I really get going. So as I was planning this post, initially I thought maybe I’d write a little bit about some of the devices I’ve been messing with lately. The post sort of changed about halfway through, though, and I started thinking about why it really is that antiquated technology makes me as happy as it does, and why it has worked its way into just about everything I write.

This wasn’t always the case. I’ve always loved history, but I can’t say I’ve always loved gadgets and technology. (In my head right now, by the way, I’m hearing Kip from Napoleon Dynamite singing but I still love technology…always and forever…)

Vertical Disc2In the time I’ve been thinking about what I might have to contribute to this year’s Steampunkapalooza, I’ve also been decompressing from turning in the first draft of what will be my fourth novel, The Left-Handed Fate (Holt, spring 2015, for those who are curious). Among the things I like to do with the antique stuff I love and the modern stuff that interests me is to take the modern tech ideas and map them back onto the older devices and technologies and practices. (This is how one of my villains in The Broken Lands wound up using a form of hoodoo conjury modeled off of the Linux bootstrap process.) This was a particularly important part of The Left-Handed Fate.

512px-Jacquard_loomIn LHF, the whiff of steampunk comes from what comes in the story to be called the Copley device: a perfect and devastating weapon that my young natural philosopher, Max Ault, believes can end the seemingly endless wars in the Atlantic. Max’s mission is to find the missing bits of the machine’s design specifications and recreate it before Napoleon’s spymasters can. The Copley device was inspired by three things: Jacquard’s looming head, a mythical confection called manus christi, and big old music boxes. For this post, I’m going to set aside talking about antique confectionery, although it’s fascinating and has about as bizarre a history as a fan of bizarre history could wish. Instead, let’s talk about antique information technology.

Anybody who knows anything about the advent of computing knows why Jacquard’s loom is fascinating to someone with a fascination for either steampunk or tech history: the punch cards. Weaving a tapestry, or a piece of wildly complicated brocade takes ages if done solely by hand; each weft thread, potentially, has to pass through a different configuration of warp threads than the one before. With some money and encouragement from Napoleon and building on earlier attempts by several other inventors (including Jacques de Vaucanson, who also happened to be a legendary builder of automata), Joseph-Marie Jacquard created a head that used punch cards to automate the weaving of complicated patterns. Punch cards like these were later one of the advances of Charles Babbage’s analytical engine over his earlier difference engine efforts.

If you’ve read The Difference Engine, of course, you’ll be nodding right along with all of this. If you read my first book, The Boneshaker, you might also recall that the prescriptions given out at Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show are written on cards with holes in them, which the man in the dispensary pockets for a moment before filling. Punched cards were used for programming and information storage throughout the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth. Herman Hollerith’s machines for tabulating the results of the 1890 US Census are particularly beautiful, if you’re inclined to geek out over things like that (and they have a fascinating and bizarre history of their own, including a thread that leads to a particularly dark place half a century later, after the descendants of Hollerith’s machines were used for Germany’s 1933 census).

Symphonion2Going back to looms, Vaucanson’s loom head, one of the earlier attempts at automated weaving that inspired Jacquard, used a metal drum with teeth, something very reminiscent of the cylindrical brass drums inside of many music boxes. (Excuse the fact that these pictures are out of focus; I think I might have been being a little sneaky when I took them.) Lots of music boxes store their programs on cylindrical drums; others, of course, are stored on disks. I suppose I liked the (blurry) music boxes here because I liked the way they hint at our modern information storage discs.

Plus, they’re just pretty. I like them as objects. They also help me visualize and understand the way we engage with information and technology. I guess that’s one of the things I like best about steampunk—using the trappings of older technologies allows us to have elegant, visual tools to re-imagine current ones. There are some people who can engage meaningfully with, say, lines of code and different programming languages the way others engage with forms of prose and poetry and different spoken and written languages.

I am not one of the former, although the more I learn the more I kind of wish I was. I’m 36; I grew up with computers but I didn’t grow up with them in the same way that my husband did, who is only four years younger than I am (and who also happens to be a world-class web operations engineer, so it could be that it’s not only a difference of four critically-timed years). I’m sort of right in the spot where they’re a perfectly normal part of my life and I assume their necessity and their value, but I only bother about exactly how they work when they don’t work the way I want them to. I can appreciate a really awesome smart phone, and I have definite opinions on Apple versus Android, but the device itself, much like my laptop, is not in any way magical for me. I suspect I’m really not alone in this mindset. Nor are the processes that make either my laptop or my phone run in any way interesting to me.

Except when they are, which is typically when I stop thinking about them as the processes that run my phone and think about them as the processes that might run something older and wildly unfamiliar. Something that has the sheen of the fantastic about it, if only because it is so far outside my experience. Then, out of their normal context, things like programming languages and bootstrap processes and data sorting begin to fascinate, to feel a bit like magic. But more than that, the way we think about technology—the way we build it, the way we use it, the philosophies behind it—also tells us very real, very meaningful things about the way we think and the way we communicate. And toying with technologies in different eras and exploring the social and historical implications of those technologies, of course, offers a whole other assortment of potential revelations and bits of food for thought.

And that, to me, is the great beauty of steampunk—most especially of all, the great beauty of steampunk for young readers. Telling a young reader I’m writing a scene about data sorting…well, there are some kids out there who might think that’s neat. Most won’t. And the message of the scene? Not all information is meaningful. Some is meaningful but only insofar as it allows you to find your way to the information you’re really looking for. And sometimes that information only turns out to be meaningful depending on what you, the reader/interpreter, do with it. Maybe your eyes aren’t glazing over yet, but I wouldn’t judge you if they were. All the same, I think those are really important things for young readers to think about and discuss. And we can find ways to make those ideas interesting, especially with tools like great stories set in great worlds where fantastic tech and trimmings give us new ways to raise discussions and debates that are meaningful to us in our own time and society.

Therefore, the scene in question takes place in an oddball asylum with a girl privateer being coached through the puzzle of a set of whalebone punch cards by a mad spinster who’s literally stained blue from the dying of silk threads. And magically, data sorting is suddenly not boring at all. Suddenly it’s weird and vaguely creepy and potentially awesome.

Go, steampunk.


Twitter: @katemilford

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FREE Steampunk Mashup Chat Tonight

I’m hosting a chat tonight. Please come join me so I’m not talking to myself. More info here!

Steampunk Mashups 101

Host: Suzanne Lazear. Fairytale Steampunk. Tsarpunk. Pirate punk. Clockpunk with steampunkatude. Putting your story though the genre blender can be a fun and exciting way to put a new spin on your story. But it is for you? Come chat about mashups, steampunk, and discover how braiding genres should be embraced, not feared.

WHEN: Apr 10, 2013 8:00 PM EST – Apr 10, 2013 9:00 PM EST

COST: FREE (though you have to register for the site, which is also free)

More info here. Hope to see you tonight!

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the fairytale steampunk series THE AETHER CHRONICLES. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13.

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Today we welcome Karen from Teen Librarian Toolbox — it’s time to get crafty! You don’t have to be an artisan to make Steampunk crafts. Here’s some ideas for kids and adults alike.

Steampunk Crafts

By Karen from Teen Librarian Toolbox

As part of Steampunkpalooza with author Suzanne Lazear, we are bringing you today some excellent Steampunk Crafts.

Steampunk USB Drive (using Polymer clay)
Ehow takes you through the 7 easy steps to make a fantastic Steampunk USB Drive.  If you search on Etsy and Deviant Art you will see that people are making and selling all kinds of Steampunk USB drives for quite a chunk of change.

Steampunk Jewelry
There are a variety of books out there that discuss making jewelry out of everyday things found in your toolbox.  These are all easily adaptable to make some amazing Steampunk inspired jewelry.

You can also use Pull Tabs, Beading Wire and Small Beads to make jewelry, like these ear rings found on Flickr. There are also step by step instructions over at Wiki How on how to make a pull tab bracelet. 

Check out these and other jewelry books at your library for tips, tricks & inspiration


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