Steampunk and gorillas, why not? An odd but interesting mix. Gorillas have a definite place in Steampunk. Apes are especially popular in Victorian literature. The most famous gorilla was Edgar Allan Poe’s mass murderer from his tale, The Murders In The Rue Morgue, published in 1841. It stands as the first detective story ever written.
One reason for the Victorians’ interest in these powerful creatures was the topic of evolution. Spurred by Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, evolution was a hotly debated topic of the era. Also Britain had colonies in Africa. Therefore, the Victorians had a particular interest in the unique continent and its magnificent creatures.
Now everyone loves a cowboy. And is there anything cooler than a western hero? Why yes, a six gun gorilla of course.
Set in the 19th century American wild west, Six Gun Gorilla is about a kidnapped baby gorilla brought from Africa to the United States. There, he ends up in Colorado with a kind prospector, Bart Masters. The gorilla, O’Neil, loved the prospector like a father. Bart taught O’Neil to dig, fetch firewood, gather water, cook, clean and of course load and fire a six shooter.
Unfortunately, Tutt Stawhan, head of the Strawhan outlaw gang, murders Bart Masters. And O’Neil’s cozy family life comes to an end. O’Neil vows to revenge Bart’s death. He straps a bandoleer across his broad, hairy chest and holsters two Colts. Then he sets out on a quest to track down, shoot and kill every member of the Strawhan gang.
Six-Gun Gorilla was published as a fifteen-part serial in the British Pulp, Wizard in 1939. The author is unknown. It’s now in public domain in the US and the UK. The original is online as a free download. Get it in PDF here: tableofcontents.html
Rupert Cornelius is another favorite Steampunk gorilla. I had the pleasure of meeting, this educated Ape, at Aetherfest in San Antonio, Texas a few years back. This brilliant gorilla answers such mind boggling questions as pirates vs ninjas, The borg vs the daleks, and what he would he do for a Klondike bar? Rupert Cornelius can also be seen on YouTube as you would expect of any well educated ape.
And of course last but not least is DC comics’ Gorilla Grodd, arch nemesis of the Flash. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Grodd first appeared in Flash #106 in 1959. The premise is that in the 19th century, the Victorian era, a spacecraft crashed deep in the heart of Africa in the Congo Basin. Grodd and his troupe gain super intelligence and Grodd and another gorilla, Solovar, are also empowered with telepathic and telekinetic abilities as well as mind control. With the alien pilot as their leader, the genius apes build Gorilla City where they live in a society far advanced from our own. The apes dwell in peace in this secret city hidden in the mountains, until they are discovered by explorers.
Grodd takes advantage of that, forcing an explorer to kill the alien, so he can rule Gorilla City. But Solovar and the Flash thwart Grodd’s evil plan. Many times through the years the Flash and his allies including Solovar save the world from Grodd. For more of Grodd and Gorilla City click on: http://www.hyperborea.org/flash/gorilla-city.html#sthash.k9RP9r19.dpuf
As you can see there is something missing from the three examples above…a female gorilla. What’s up with that? If you‘re looking for a fun character for a Steampunk novel, why not throw in an ape? Maybe a girl gorilla. It’s something to think about. It would be an intriguing change from the standard vampire or werewolf.
If you’ve read or written a book featuring a gorilla, tell us about it or comment on anything else regarding the post. I love to hear from readers and other authors.
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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.