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Archive for July, 2013

With the Victorians’ fascination with death and mourning, ghosts blend in so well with Steampunk stories. When I think of ghost, I often think of a haunted Victorian mansion, lit by candlelight or flickering gas lights, secret passage ways draped with cobwebs, slits cut in the eyes of a potrait  where someone or something spies on the gents and ladies in the grand manor.

DEBUNKING:

The first thing all ghost hunters do is try to find logical causes for reported paranormal activity.

  • Animals:

Look for small, furry, scurrying creatures. Sneaky varmints like mice are good at hiding. They cause strange noises and knock things down without being seen. Victorian London had a lot of mice and rats and such. Also ghostly noises in walls, attics, and basements are often caused by varmits of some type.

  • Houses:

Victorian homes had hardwood floors which cause house popping noises to often sound like phantom footsteps. Also air trapped in water pipes cause loud banging at random times. Doors opening or closing by themselves can be attributed to a house which has a good seal. Opening or closing an exterior door can create suction, so an interior door will move when the exterior door moves. Having two or more windows open can have the same effect on interior doors. Also if a gush of wind enters through one window and exits through another, the reduced air pressure may cause doors to open or close.

  • Food, Drink…Sunspot:

Cynical or logical Victorians often cited sunspot and strong drink as causes of ghost sightings.  In Dickens’ The Christmas Carol, Scrooge questioned if the ghostly vissage of Jacob Marley was caused by what he’d eaten earlier that day. “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.”

Victorian Ghost

Victorian Ghost – Aetherfest

  • Modern:

Compass – The simplest piece, which fits in perfectly with Steampunk. During any type of paranormal activity, a compass will spin wildly.

KII Meters – read electromagnetic fields. If the meter spikes on these small, handheld devices, it reflects a change in the magnetic field, which along with other evidence can give proof to paranormal activity.

Mel Meters – measure both EMF and temperature. They allow paranormal investigators to record the temperature right where it’s at. After Gary Galka lost his oldest daughter Melisa, in a car accident, he created the Mel meter, named after her, to communicate with her after death as it helped his healing process. The model numbers in the Mel-8704 are the year of her birth and the year of her passing.

Recording Devices – to pick up EVP, electronic voice phenomena (White Noise). EVP began in the 1950’s when Fredrich Jurgenson, a bird watcher and retired opera singer, recorded bird calls near his home in  Switzerland on a reel to reel. When he listened to the tapes he heard voices on them, though no one else had been there. An ancient Viking burial ground happened to exist in the area he recorded at. After discovering this he continued EVP research and wrote the book, Voices From the Universe.

  • Victorian & Steampunk Alternatives:

Recording Devicesto pick up EVP prior to 1950:

Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville – invented the phonautograph in 1860 –Records Sound, but Doesn’t Reproduce It  – you’d have to fix that in your story.

Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph,  1877 when he made his first sound recordings on sheets of tinfoil. In 1888, he developed a solid wax cylinder record.

Victorian Ghost Hunting Gear:

Ectoplasm Kit – In the Victorian era, ectoplasm was defined as a substance exuded from a medium while in a trance. Ectoplasm formulated into the shape of the spirit the medium was in touch with at the time. Ghost hunters carried a collecting set and chemistry equipment to gather and test any ectoplasm.

Electroscope –  Electroscopes, which pick up static electricity have been around for centuries and could have been used in placce of an  EMF meter, which along with other evidence could prove paranormal activity.

Victorian Ghosts - Comicpalooza 2013

Victorian Ghosts – Comicpalooza 2013

Victorian alternatives to communicating with the dead:

Seances – Engrossed in spiritualism and Gothic novels, many Victorians, haunted by ghost, held table rapping séances

Ouija Board – a popular board game, patened in 1890 http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/WebOuija.html

Steampunk Ghost Hunting:

Steampunk Ghost Hunting Gear

Steampunk Ghostly Tales

And last but not least – GHOSTLY STEAMPUNK READS:

4105jhfVChL__The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
by Leanna Renee Hieber

There is no unusual machinery in the story so I would not call it steampunk but still if you like steampunk you will like it. It’s set in Victoria England in London and involves ghost and gods. The characters are strong and haunting. It is a strangley beautiful paranormal/romance that I loved and I highly recommend it.

untitledGhost by Gaslight – edited by Jack Dann & Nick Gevers

This collection of seventeen Steampunk ghost stories, one has mummies, is outstanding. The authors are representative of some of the best speculative fiction authors of our modern time. It offers quite a variety of superb steampunk ghost stores. There is something for everyone in this anthology and you will be sure to claim a few as your favorite steampunk short stories. I loved it.

ToLoveALondonGhost_200To Love A London Ghost by Maeve Alpin

When Queen Victoria orders Sexton Dukenfield, premiere phantom hunter, to track down England’s missing ghost he stumbles into Ceridwen, a phantom warrior woman of an ancient Celtic tribe. Not only does he find her intriguing as a piece of the puzzle of the missing spirits, but he’s also haunted by her sultry sensuality. Though they both burn with desire, it’s difficult to quench their fiery passion since Ceridwen is so translucent. Every time Sexton touches her, his hands pass through her misty body. On a mission through the bustling narrow streets of London, to a dreary match factory, and even to the Otherworld and back, to stop a genius scientist and his phantasm debilitater machine, the ghost and the ghost hunter also seek the secret to freeing the boundaries of life and death.

If you live in Houston Texas, I wanted to share that I will be at one of my favorite haunts this weekend, Space City Con. Friday night, 08/02/13, I’m presenting a Steampunk Ghost Hunting panel from 7pm – 8:30pm. Please drop by if you can.

~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 published books, including four Steampunk Romances. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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I used Grammarly to grammar check this post so I’d have more time to bake cupcakes.

Adventures in Alternate History: Steampunking the Mormon Battalion

By Suzanne Lazear

One of the things I enjoy most about writing steampunk is the ability to play around with history. For me, it’s fun to find odd facts from the past, exploring the what-ifs and never-wases and moving things around in order to create a new history–and a good story.

Charmed Vengeance 1In CHARMED VENGEANCE I really got a chance to play with history because a bulk of the story takes place in the mortal realm–on an airship. One of my favorite creations is The MoBatts. 

I remember when it started. I was teaching my very first online class on writing steampunk.  Someone in the class was from Arizona, which was where I grew up.  We started talking about little known bits of history, which led to a discussion about the the Mormon Battalion and how it could be neat to steampunk it.

“I know where I can put that,” I told her. I wish I remembered which student she was, because I’d like to thank her for the idea.

The Mormon Battalion was the only the religiously based military unit and they served from 1846-1847 during the Mexican-American war. Their march secured much of the Southwest and opened a southern wagon route to California. From a purely historical POV it’s actually quite facinating.

CHARMED VENGEANCE book 2 of my Aether Chronicles series takes place in an alternate version of 1901, where there is advanced technology such as airships and hoverboards.

In my alternate reality after the war the Mormon Battalion eventually became the private security for Deseret territory.  In my world, Deseret, (a state that never was) is now an accepted territory, roughly the size and placement of Utah. (The original proposed state of Deseret was much bigger). I include Deseret, because it’s also an odd bit of history which pairs well with my MoBatts–after all, they need to protect something, right?

The MoBatts protect the skies of Desert, especially against air pirates. They are fierce and vigilant. The air pirates fear the MoBotts more than the air patrol.  For the most part, they try to avoid flying over Deseret. When they can’t they engage decoys — small, fast ships that draw the MoBatts away so the other ship can pass unharmed.

It was really fun researching both the Mormon Battalion and the state of Deseret so I could figure out how to mold and change things to suit my story. It was even more fun writing the scenes where my characters get chased by (and shot down by) MoBatts.

For my intents and purposes I left religion out of it (the MoBatts were a very small plot thread) and there really is no discussion as to how you become one, nor do we meet any. We don’t know much about Desert either other than it’s a territory, anyone can settle there, drinking and gambling are illegal, and they have little tolerance for air piracy.

Maybe one day I’ll write something where I can develop the MoBatts a little further. As exciting as being an air pirate is, I bet chasing down air pirates for a living is exciting as well, not to mention, as a writer it’s always interesting to create societies and organizations.

Would you rather chase air pirates or be one?

CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13 from Flux, and is available wherever books are sold and as an e-book.

Learn more about the Aether Chronicles on the series website. 

~Suzanne

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA fairytale steampunk series, the Aether Chronicles. Book One, INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. Book Two, CHARMED VENGEANCE, releases 8-8-13.

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Today we welcome erotica author Helena Harker. One lucky poster will win a copy of CARNAL DEVICES.

Helena Harker is a teacher by day, writer by night, a daydreamer who loves to escape to other worlds. Her fiction is populated by strong men, passionate women and lots of steampunk inventions. In her free time she enjoys photography and curling up with a good book.

Camilla’s Consequences

By Helena Harker

camillaconsequences_msrThanks for helping me celebrate the release of my steampunk erotic romance Camilla’s Consequences, a story of love, revenge and betrayal. There are plenty of steampunk creations in addition to some fem-dom elements as Camilla tracks down adulterers and punishes them for their sins.

This is the second steampunk story I have written. The previous one was a novella called Carnal Devices. I have to say I enjoy writing steampunk because it gives me so much freedom. I can do a lot of research about Victorian England and use those historical facts, but whenever I want to deviate from that and create wild inventions, I can! So I can strike a balance between history and fantasy. I have always loved this time period with its corsets and rigid social conventions. Recently, I bought my very own corset for a masquerade ball! Now I will join the steampunk society in my hometown and be able to attend events dressed in proper steampunk gear! I can’t wait for the first event. I am also writing another steampunk novel called Ivy’s Inventions, but this one only has romantic elements. It’s not erotica, unlike the other two. This will allow me to focus more on the plot and less on the sexual tension between the characters.

 

Carnal Devices - CoverCamilla is a sexual blackmailer. After a betrayal from her fiancé, she spends her days exacting revenge against men who are unfaithful. Armed with an iron resolve, her Panoptoscope and a handbag filled with instruments of castigation, she becomes a formidable adversary. Her quest for revenge has hardened her heart, but a small part of her still thirsts for passion and the heat of a man’s touch.

Hephaestus is a skilled metallurgist who hammers iron into any shape. When Camilla walks into his forge asking him to repair a pendant, flames of passion ignite between them. After Camilla receives letters that threaten to expose her, she seeks his protection as well as his love. However, in order to melt her heart, Hephaestus must resort to extreme measures to make her see that pardon, not punishment, is needed for love to grow and lust to be fulfilled.

Here’s an excerpt:

Hunting men is a most lucrative occupation, one I enjoy with an ardent passion. As I wait for Lord Aldridge to exit his tent, I silently curse him for choosing to pitch his camp in this godforsaken bog. Although we are barely an hour outside London, it seems I have been transported to the jungles of Borneo. The dank, moist air wreaks havoc with my curls, my riding boots slip through the mud and my walking skirt reeks of rotting leaves and mallard droppings.

Silent, shielded by darkness, I rest my body against the trunk of a tree that leans precariously over the pond and adjust the lens of the Panoptoscope against my eye. Motionless against the elm’s rough bark, I blend into my environment. Although my hiding place is barely ten yards away from Aldridge’s simple canvas tent, he will never see me.

I aim the ‘Scope at my quarry and peer through the lens. How magical. My newest, truly ingenious modification far exceeds my expectations. My contraption allows me to see in the dark, and for a few moments I imagine myself to be a panther lurking in the undergrowth, waiting for the perfect moment to ambush my prey.

The leafless trees appear in various shades of gray, their limbs hanging low, resembling eerie fingers that reach for the tent. Lantern light glows inside, and shadowy figures stir within the canvas walls. Lord Aldridge has brought company. It is not unexpected. After all, Aldridge has many suitors.

All of whom are male.

Come out, Aldridge. Your judgment awaits. Often, I choose to confront men and punish them for their sins. It is a good thing that I do, for who else would pass judgment over them and sentence them for their transgressions? Surely not another man. No, it is a woman’s duty to judge men and determine whether they should be condemned for their actions.

You can buy it on Amazon or from Elora’s Cave. Enjoy!

~Helena

www.helenaharker.com

twitter.com/HelenaHarker

www.facebook.com/helena.harker.9

 

 

 

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Judith B. Shields at the Frankenstein's Monster booth at Comicpalooza

Judith B. Shields at the Frankenstein’s Monster booth at Comicpalooza

I’m standing on the platform of the airship, docked in sultry Houston, Texas. I take off  my hat and fan my face with it as I offer my other hand to Judith B. Shields, the founder of First Step Cinmeatics and the writer and producer of Frankenstein’s Monster. “Welcome to airship Steamed.”

After we shake hands, I warn her, “Watch your step.” We both leap over the gap between the dock and the airship. I lead her into the parlor and gesture towards the crimson settee, which features curvy legs and claw feet. Judith sinks into the cushioned seat.

I slide down into the matching arm chair by the tea table and flash a bright smile. “I’m so excited about your film, a steampunk adaptation of Frankenstein. And you shot it in the Houston-Galveston area.”  As I pour a cup of tea, tendrils of steam rise from it. “Like most people I love the book Frankenstein. What was it about the story that inspired you to create the film?”

Judith takes the cup of Earl Grey as I hand it to her. “The humanity behind it. It is such a complex book. I appreciate its respect for life. Mary Shelley draws the reader into the idea that even though we may live in a modern world of science, we must not forget to respect and value each other. “ Judith lifts her cup and takes a  dainty sip of tea. “This theme is repeated over and over. Also, Mary Shelley warns us against pushing too far away from this basic truth.”

The engine purrs and the china teacups on the tea table rattle as the airship begins lift off. “That’s so true, it’s such a wonderful message. And speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to take Frankenstein in a steampunk direction, bringing the monster to life by steam?”

Judith grabs the settee with one hand, her teacup in the other, as the airship gains altitude. “It’s a perfect combination. Mary Shelley states that Victor Frankenstein studied many types of science. Why couldn’t he be adventurous and reanimate the Monster with Steam? In our film we approximated the time to be around 1890. During that time period, steam served as a common power for transportation: locomotives, steamboats. This is the difference with our story and Shelley’s. Besides—Prometheus’ Flame is mentioned. Yes, perfect for Steampunk.”

“I love the premise and who doesn’t love Prometheus and his gift of fire. We couldn’t have tea without fire.” Now that the teacups have ceased rattling, I lean toward the table and pour myself a cup of Earl Grey. “Speaking of Steampunk, how did you become interested in it?”

“I appreciate the artistic side and creative side of Steampunk. People will have an idea and build their dreams. It’s wonderful that many of the Steampunk community honor inventors and ingenuity. Yes, Steampunk is mostly known for its fashion, but because of its openness and not conformity, individuals are able to freely express themselves.” Judith reaches for the sugar bowl, picks up a white cube and plunks it into her tea. “I am always amazed at the problem-solving I see when folks create. An example I’ll throw out there is Preacher’s Powderwork’s and Projectiles—who created the wooden goggles featured in Frankenstein’s Monster. They are very different—and yet it is still Steampunk.”Frankenstein Poster 1-b

“Wooden goggles—I love that.” I bring my teacup to my lips as the steam from the cup blows warm on my face. “You refer to the film as Steampunk light, can you explain the meaning of that term a little bit more?”

“I call the film Steampunk-light because it isn’t the heavy technology steampunk many are used to in the genre. Although I will admit, we have an amazing lab built by our technical director, Chris Lowe.” Judith takes a silver spoon from the table and dipping it into her teacup, she politely swishes it side to side. “Our Steampunk is expressed through the art—for starters we used a lot of STEAM! The monster is Steam-powered. He smokes! It is simple. Steampunk is expressed in the camera angle choices. The finished look of the film has a darkened edge and is slightly desaturated—to remind the audience of an old photograph.  Word choices in the script, Edwardian costumes, unique props built by those in our Texas Steampunk community. This is our Steampunk.”

Reaching for the dish on the table, I pinch a slice of lemon and inhale the invigorating citrus fragrance as I squeeze a few drops into my teacup. “Speaking of expressing Steampunk through art, your dual role on the film is impressive. You not only wrote the screenplay but you are the producer as well.  Who are your major influences regarding film production?”

Judith lifts her chin and flashes a bright smile. “Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott.”

“What about the actual work of filming, what type of cameras were used in shooting Frankenstein’s Monster?” Why did you make those choices?” With a slow sip, I breathe in the aromatic scent of my tea.

“We used Canon DSLR cameras for Frankenstein’s monster. Our film has a 16×9 aspect ratio and was shot in high definition 1080p quality. We chose DSLRs for many reasons. As the producer, I appreciated the affordability. An SD card, which is the size of a quarter, can capture a whole day’s worth of filming. Also, there’s no film processing or worrying about the film accidentally being exposed.” Judith takes a sip of tea. “What was also great about the DSLR cameras, is that unlike camcorder type equipment, you have to treat the DSLR as you would a camera—set up aperture, ISO, etc. to make sure you have the right look. It’s the art of moving photography. You treat what you would like filmed as you would a photograph. Slava Vlad, our Cinematographer and lead Editor has a strong background in photography and he brought out the best with that equipment.” Judith lowers her tea cup, resting her arm on her lap. “There are downsides with the DSLRs. While the filming quality is comparable to many other high end film equipment, they are not RED cameras. Capturing the best blacks (although that can be fixed in post) and challenges with overheating can be a problem. That is why I’m thankful we shot in the winter. Forty minutes of Texas heat and DSLRs will give up.”

“You don’t have to tell me about the Texas heat.” I recall having to fan myself with my hat just moments ago. “But even with all the challenges, film making sounds so interesting. I think everyone would like to be on a set at least once. Can you describe a typical day on the set of Frankenstein’s Monster?” With a soft clink, I sit my cup on its china saucer on the tea table.

Wedding

“First off, the day never starts on the set. It can take months of planning: scouting then securing a location, making sure actors, tech equipment and costumes will be available for that date. That the location has both power and bathrooms there. And heaven forbid it rains!” Judith flashes a wry grin. “My day started early. First thing in the morning I had to pick up dry ice so we could have a smoking monster on set. Meanwhile, others would grab coffee and about 40 minutes before actors arrived on set, the crew would start preparing.” Judith leans forward. “We had a very fast shoot. Normally a film that’s 110 minutes would take about 30 days production. We shot it in 14—and that includes days where actors were sick and days we were rained out. We were able to do this because: the professionalism and positivity of both the cast and crew, time management and splitting the responsibilities of cast/crew. Also as the scriptwriter, it helped that I was available if anyone had any questions. I found the cast amazing. They memorized everything. So I have to give a huge thank you to our co-stars Dustin Sturgill (Victor Frankenstein) and Matt Risoldi (Monster).  Frankenstein’s Monster’s lines are not easy. This is why I recruited so many thespians who were used to historical plays or Shakespeare. Every line flowed so naturally from them. I am extremely proud of their hard work. Considering many were also working other jobs, and how little time we had to practice, they did an outstanding performance. Syd Lance, our director, blocked the cast for many of the scenes directly on the shoot. Many of our locations were not open to us until the day of the shoot so the cast couldn’t see them before that.” Judith cocked her head. “On crew side it was very collaborative. That actually became our strength. Because we talked out all the tech needs in advance and planned what we could, we were better prepared. Also, we communicated as we filmed. Team work.” Judith raised her teacup to her lips and took a long sip. “For lunch? If I wasn’t bringing sandwiches, my folks were bringing a hot meal. Either soup or pasta.  And delicious homemade brownies. That’s what we do in First Step Cinematics, we may be microbudget, but we make sure everyone’s fed. There was a lot of happiness and laughter on the set.”

“It sounds like Texas hospitality to me.” I smile and lean back in the soft armchair. “What obstacles does an indie micro-budget film such as Frankenstein’s Monster have to overcome in order to be seen by the public?”

“Getting the word out and getting out there. Our first challenge is the independent film circuit. We’re not released yet. If anyone wants to see the film, we will keep updates on our facebook page. Also here we have our schedule update: http://steampunkfrankenstein.com/film-showings-schedule/ Finally, we have an extremly important fundraiser that will end this week! We have covered costs for our Autumn film competitions, but we will need help for Spring.  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/steampunk-frankenstein-film

Extras in Nightmare

It’s a David and Goliath kind of battle. Even among small films, their budget can be $100,000 or even a million. We had a budget the cost of a motorcycle. I am thankful to God and to everyone who has given us their support. I have to also give a big thank you to Ryan Cockerham who created the original score.” Judith drank the last of her tea and set the cup on it’s china saucer on the tea table. “Because we are so different—because we are presenting a familiar story as a drama but doing it in a way that is artistic, yet close to Mary Shelley—that is what makes us stand out. Hopefully our audience will think so too. So far we have had positive feedback, I’m hoping it’ll continue to be so. I’m grateful to everyone who has been involved—those who have helped everyday to those who could only help a little. It has been an amazing experience. Our next step is to take it to the world!”

I lace my fingers together and lay them in my lap. “Also, what advice would you give to others who have a dream of film making but also have a micro-budget for it?”

“Do it. But first, plan ahead. Plan well. Be sure you have enough funds not only to make the film, but prepare for extra days of shooting, expenses that pop up and of course you have to have a post-production and marketing budget. Save money where you can. You can rent equipment. That is an option. Borrow items from friends. We used many DIY projects instead of buying equipment: things such as boom poles and camera stands. And shop around. When I wasn’t bidding, I was buying equipment if it was on sale. When you’re on a budget, practical solutions can work best. Being frugal when necessary means you’ll have funds for the items that have to be of high quality like makeup base, descent video tripods (you can’t go cheap with those), SD cards, microphones and any other purchases where quality matters the most.” Judith pauses to draw in a breath. “To prepare to make an indie film, I recommend reading. Many great non-fiction books are available on how to be an effective producer or screenwriter. I will add this, though, making a film is like having a full time job. I’m not saying this to scare away anyone from their dream, I am saying it so you can be prepared and plan your time wisely. And don’t forget to have fun with it.”

Hearing rattling and clinking, I glance at the tea table, the cups and saucers are shaking. I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one final question. “In addition to screen plays you write children and young adult books. What are some of the similarities and differences you find between writing screen plays and writing children’s fiction?”

Judith grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the landing.“Yes! Writing screenplays compared to prose is a very different experience  They both have their advantages. In Young Adult fiction I can create a world and the reader gets to imagine it. At the moment they read, the world comes alive, you can learn a character’s thoughts and reasons for his actions, details are rich. With screenplays, unless you give it to someone, chances are your art will never be read or even known. The exception to that is if it is adopted by a film company and eventually made into a film once they have the market to do so. I avoided that outcome by being “self-published” and making my own film. There are so many good screenplays that never get realized. Another challenge with screenplays is it’s no longer your vision, but the vision of many: the producer, the director, the set designer, the costumer, the makeup artist, the cinematographer… you have to be flexible, knowing any creativity involved in crossing over your word to film means you will lose a lot of creative control. However—there is hope for those who write screenplays. A good screenplay is simple. Simple descriptions for locations, few locations, very little action description, camera direction when necessary. The strength of a screenplay is the dialogue. You are setting the film’s pace. It’s up to the director and the editor to keep that pace. If your strength is dialogue, pacing and plot—screenplays are great! The thing they’re meant to be lacking in is description.”

Airship Steamed has landed back in Houston so I must say farewell to Judith  B. Shields, but you are welcome to stay and watch the trailer for this amazing film, Frankenstein’s Monster.

Also if you’re going to WorldCon in San Antonio this year, and who isn’t, you can catch the showing of Frankenstein’s Monster at 8pm, Friday August 30th. It looks like a great film.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 published books, including four Steampunk Romances. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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1860RickettSteamCarriage_zpsf033c0ee

As promised last month, meet another piece of historical Steampunk technology: The Rickett Carriage. This steam-powered car was made in 1860 by Thomas Rickett, a Castle Foundry manager in Buckingham. His impressive work with steam engines inspired the Marquess of Stafford to order a steam carriage. It had a maximum speed of 19mph. Here is how Wikipedia describes it:

This vehicle had three wheels, the single wheel at the front, and a rear-mounted coal-fired boiler and two-cylinder engine. The boiler pressure was 110 psi, and the cylinders had a bore of 76 mm and stroke of 178 mm. Transmission was by chain to the right-hand rear wheel. A maximum speed of 19 mph was claimed. A boilerman was seated at the rear, and three passengers could sit side by side at the front with the one on the right operating a tiller steering and the regulator, reversing lever and brake. The wheels had iron “tyres”, with the brakes operating on the rear wheels.

Rickett made a second model with a slightly different style for an Earl who used the car to drive an astounding 146 miles in Scotland!

Historically, the machine was short-lived and not terribly many sold, even for the low, low price of £200, but in my novel, Nickie Nick the Vampire Hunter reads about them in the paper and even sees one for herself!

This magnificent machine made it into my teen paranormal romance novel in a chapter called “Nickie Nick Sees a Rickett.” My description of a Rickett in The Zombies of Mesmer:

The alley was quiet this time when I emerged, and the smell of the blood was fading in the freshly falling snow. I went up to the mouth of the alley and stood just out of the light from the nearby gaslamp. The night had barely begun and the streets were rather busy with carriages and full of the sounds of clopping hoofbeats. My mind went back to the beautiful stranger. Where had he come from? Where had he gone to? One hears stories about how something very bad could be happening in an alleyway just adjacent a very busy street, but no one comes to help. I found that hard to believe before tonight.

Yet he had come to help. He had probably saved Conrad’s life.

And he knew vampires existed, that was a definite benefit.

Then the strangest contraption caught my eye. It was a carriage without a horse, clattering down the street with the rest of the carriages. Being the daughter of industrialists, I certainly was not ignorant of modern machinery. After all, mother and father had some quite impressive steam machines that facilitated production in their textile factory. Even Franklin himself came up with truly ingenious inventions just from assembling junk and such, but this was like nothing I had ever seen up close. It looked every bit like a carriage, only instead of four wheels, it only had three, two large ones in back and a smaller one in front. From the large back wheels, chains ran from gears on the wheels to other gears extending from an axle beneath the carriage’s floor. A man sat on the right, fully dressed for the evening in a top hat and fine overcoat, holding onto the steering rod with his left hand and another lever with his right. A woman wrapped in a fur stole and earmuffs sat beside him.

Stepping up to get a closer look as the thing puttered by, I saw that there was a mechanism beneath the carriage floor that turned the gears, which in turn, turned the wheels. I stooped down to get a look of the thing from beneath, but it had already passed. There on the back sat the engine. It looked like a coal boiler and a long pipe extending up from it belched out steam.

“Interesting, no? A far cry from a penny-farthing,” a smooth voice above me said. I stood up quickly to find that it was none other than my beautiful stranger.

“Yes. It is a Rickett Carriage. I read about them, but I have never seen one before. Simply amazing,” I responded calmly, although some rather large fluttery things had taken up residence in my stomach.

“You read, do you? Also interesting. This evening is just full of surprises, is it not, Nick?”

“How do you know my name.” It came out as a whisper, for I was breathless. He filled my world. It was as if all of London fell away from my vision, and there was only him. Black eyes twinkling in the gaslight. One side of his cinnamon lips curled up in a half-smile. Pale skin covered in soot and jaw-hugging sideburns. I shivered, and it was not the cold December night that caused it.

“Your friend said it before. It is beneficial to pay attention to the details in life, don’t you find? I am called Ashe.” He offered a gloved hand. “We were not properly introduced before.”

I took his hand and gave it a manly shake, which was not too difficult with my new strength.

“Strong, too, for such a young lad,” he said, putting his hand back in his pocket.

I felt my brows furrow at this. He thought me a boy, and a kid at that. I was no kid. I was The Protector, after all.

“I’m not all that young.” I deepened my voice perhaps a little too much. My cheeks suddenly felt very hot and flushed, so I turned my face into the cold wind and let the snowflakes cool my no-doubt-rosy-cheeks down. “Bet I’m as old as you.”

Great. That sounded quite mature, Nicole.

“Do you now?” he said. “Thought I told you to stay safe and inside. This is no place for children. Where is your friend. Is he all right?”

I bit my lip to stop from scolding this infuriating man, and I turned back to him, ready to do so anyway. As soon as I caught his eyes again, however, I was unable to speak. Literally. The ability to form words completely escaped me.

Read the rest of the Chapter, or even more of the book, for free on my blog, Caught in the Cogs, or get your very own copy from Amazon.

Return again in two weeks to learn more about real history in fiction.

-_Q

 

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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When I wrote INNOCENT DARKNESS I wanted to create my own fairytale, not Steampunk an existing one. So, I built my own.

Innocent_DarknessI took a few classic fairytale elements, ones we find in many, many classic fairytales such as wishes gone wrong, bad bargains, huntsman, and evil queens.

I added in faery lore, which is different from fiarytales. This is the lore of the faeries (I used mostly Irish faery lore). Things such as never thank a faery. Oaks are often faery trees. The types of flowers faeries like. Never eat faery food.

Then, I blended in Steampunk. Flying cars. Hoverboards. Air ships. Air pirates.

I also added a dash of litterary references and quite a bit of research on the Victorian era.

In this world I added my characters — Noli Braddock, James and Steven “V” Darrow, Queen Tiana, Kevighn. Then, I braided everything together to create INNOCENT DARKNESS and the upcoming sequel CHARMED VENGEANCE.

Charmed Vengeance 1INNOCENT DARKNESS takes place mostly in the Otherworld (faerie), where CHARMED VENGEANCE takes place mostly in the mortal realm and is filled with air ships and air pirates (Yes, we meet Jeff, Noli’s brother the air pirate, I hope you like him.)

Here’s a quick video I made on how I combined fairytale elements with faery lore and steampunk to form the world of the Aether Chronicles book. (Mostly, it’s on the fairytale parts).

Enjoy.

I’m having a read-along of INNOCENT DARKNESS  to help you get ready for CHARMED VENGEANCE’s release. There are lots of prizes.

idreadalong (1)

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. Learn more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

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Steampunk Egyptology

Maeve Alpin & Baroness Violet von Mickelsburgamp at Comicpalooza

At Comicpalooza in Houston I presented a panel on Steampunk Egyptology, discussing mummies and the Victorians. Like we, modern men and women, are mad for zombies, Victorians were crazy about mummies. The whole revenge of the mummy premise was theirs. No myth or tales exist in Egyptian history about mummies coming to life and staggering around in all their grave wrappings. Scary, revenge seeking mummies are pure Victoriana.

It all began in 1821, when a theater near Piccadilly Circus held a mummy unwrapping. Inspired by this event, author Jane Webb Loudon wrote “The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century” in 1827. This was the first mummy story, one of the first sci-fi stories and one of the first sci-fi stories written by a woman. From time to time, I like to remind people that female writers, such as Mary Shelley, Jane Loudon, and Marry Griffith, were pioneers of Sci-fi and helped develop the genre.

Jane Webb Loudon, author of The Mummy, A Tale of The Twenty-Second Century

“The ancient Egyptians you know, believed that the souls of their mummies were chained to them in a torpid state till the final day of judgment, and supposing this hypotheses to be correct, there is every reason to imagine that by employing so powerful an agent as galvanism, re-animation may be produced.” – From The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century
And so it is, two of Loudon’s characters, Edwin and Dr. Entwerfen, embark by balloon on an expedition to the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), to shock him back to life with a galvanized battery.

One of the futuristic depictions I love most is when Loudon’s describing the queen’s court in the 22nd century, all of the women wear trousers. For a twenty-year old woman in the regency period, that’s pretty forward thinking.

Middle-Eastern-steampunk at Aetherfest

Middle-Eastern-steampunk at Aetherfest

Those Victorians loved their mummies and they loved mummy stories. Mummies proved a popular theme in many Edwardian and Victorian books. With so many mummy books, I’m going to only name the stories written by author’s you’ll recognize. The following are all available at the Gutenberg project.

First we have a short story, “Some Words with a Mummy”, written in 1845 by Edgar Allen Poe. It’s humorous satire, a delightful read, and the author’s voice is so fresh it seems as if it could have been written today. Simply put – it’s so Poe.

Then in 1869 Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame, wrote a short story, “Lost in a Pyramid: The Mummy’s Curse”. It’s on the horror side, quite Victorian, and you’ll recognize Alcott’s writing style.

Next, we have The Jewel of Seven Stars, a full length novel written in 1903 by Bram Stoker of Dracula fame. Stoker is a master of suspense and elegant writing. He has wonderful page turning hooks at the end of each chapter. It’s not as great as Dracula – but it’s good and it’s pure Stoker. I loved it.

The Jewel of Seven Stars has two endings. On the third print run, in 1912, the publisher demanded Stoker change the ending. At the time, critics called the original ending too gruesome. I read this at Project Gutenberg, which had the newer ending, but I was able to read the original ending at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/543300.The_Jewel_of_Seven_Stars The first ending isn’t gruesome by today’s standards though it is horribly sad. Still, the original ending is clearly the best.

Let’s get to the good stuff, Mummy Unwrapping Parties, now believed to be more like academic lectures. Evidently some were more of a party from the accounts of removing the amulets found in the wrappings and handing them out as party favors.

Some infamous mummy incidents involved Lady Pesed Ma Rheres, daughter of Heshor, priest of Khem. Lady Pesed has resided at Westminster College in Pennsylvania since 1885. When a former student of the school served as a missionary in Egypt, he shipped her to the college as a donation. During the early 1900’s Lady Pesed was sometimes found in coed’s beds. Sounds like a party to me. That story also lends truth to what they say…liquor use to be much stronger.

Now to discus my favorite things – books. Two modern Steampunk classics with strong Egyptian influence are The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers and The Osiris Ritual by George Mann. Tim Power’s blew my mind with The Anubis Gates. The Osiris Ritual is a fabulous mystery with a lot of magic and it includes a mummy unwrapping party scene. Both are fabulous books and on my keeper shelf.

For young adults, Trisha Wolfe has an Egyptian themed Steampunk series, Kythan Guardians. The books, set in 2040, are about a race of shape-shifters descended from guardians to the Egyptian Pharaohs.

Timeless, the last book in Gail Carriger’s wonderful Parasol Protectorate series takes place in Egypt. I recommend the entire series and I also consider it a must read for Steampunk fans.

Empire of Ruins, a young adult, action adventure book by Arthur Slade takes place in Australia where an Egyptian tomb is discovered. It’s a fun, thrilling read.

The erotic romance series Shimmy and Steam by Michelle Kopra is about British Spies posing as a belly dancing troupe and traveling around in an airship. The books are a fun, hot read. 

My Egyptian themed Steampunk time travel books are As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic. Since I just got rights back, I’m revising them and will be submitting them to a publisher soon.

Now, learned ladies of Steamed and esteemed gentlemen, may I present the most amazing, most stupendous, most marvelous find on Egyptian Steampunk. Drum roll please.

Heron (Hero) The Egyptian in 1st century AD invented the first working steam engine in history, the aeolipile. It’s often called Hero’s ball, which actually sounds like a good title for a book.

Feel free to comment on anything you like below, but also if you’ve read or written an Egyptian Steampunk book that’s not listed, please include it in the comments. Or if you have an Egyptian Steampunk costume, please include a link to a photo of it or tell us about it. Also I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Forth of July tomorrow.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes under the pen name of Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 romance books, four of them are Steampunk.

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