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Archive for the ‘Alternate History’ Category

I began writing historical romances, Celtic ones, set in the Bronze ages,  Iron ages, and Dark ages. I moved from history to alternate history with Steampunk. The move into Steampunk was a natural one for me. In To Love The London Ghost I even combined Victorian history with ancient Celtic history as my heroine is a ghost who died on the banks of the Thames fighting Julius Ceasar.

I always loved the Victorian era, I think because of all those western shows I use to watch growing up: The Riffle Man, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Bonanza, The Virginian, and Wagon Train. When I was eight, I discovered the Little House On The Prairie books, those page turners were the first series I ever read and historical fiction has been one of my favorite genres ever since.

Around the age of six on up to about eight, I use to daydream what I called TV in my head and except for one series of mine – fan fiction based on Flash Gordon – all the others were westerns. In one daydream series my hero road a buffalo – I was six or seven and it made perfect sense at the time.  The heroine of those daydreams, the buffalo rider’s wife, always wore a blue and white print frontier style dress. I should find some fabric like that and have a prairie dress made for myself. I can tell people I’m cosplaying a character form my daydreams when I was seven. Why not?

I was eight or nine when The Wild Wild West show began on TV and I was crazy about it. With that in mind, click on the Wild Wild West video for some background music for the post.

I know now that The Wild Wild West was Steampunk.

DSCN0086 (2)Though I haven’t written any western themed Steampunk yet, I live in an area where western Steampunk costumes and personas are popular. I live in Texas. Here are some Western themed photos from members of Houston’s local Steampunk community.

Now that I’ve shared my childhood inspiration with all of you, feel free to comment below on what inspired you to write Steampunk. I’d love to hear about it.

 

wester

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

 

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61kc2VV+MoL__SL500_SX300_I’m intrigued when any writer blasts their characters out of the Victorian, or other historical era, and into outer space. Edgar Allan Poe did it with The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaallin in 1835, Jules Verne followed with The Earth To the Moon in 1865, and in 1901 H. G. Wells wrote The First Men In The Moon.  These Regency/Victorian/Edwardian tales offer great inspiration for modern steampunk writers. Jules Verne’s The Earth To The Moon was one of my greatest inspirations for Conquistadors In Outer Space.

1889I asked the authors of the new book 1889 Journey To the Moon, George Wier and Billy Kring, what inspired them to take their Steampunk story into outer space?

George: First of all, we really should have been in space (and I’m not talking about NASA or the ESA, I’m talking about ALL of us) a damn long time ago. All we’re doing here is correcting history’s big mistakes. What were those mistakes? Well, we let corporations, governments and bankers decide for us what mankind does–what his future is. You don’t believe me? Well guess what? What if Nikola Tesla had been allowed to finalize his experimentation in ambient free energy and give to the whole world wireless free energy? He was factually shut down by his “friends”. What if every single advance we’ve made in the past 150 years was not snatched up by corporate or government interests, patented, crated and put away in that hangar that comes at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? I’ll tell you what, we would be REALLY free. We would be free of economic duress (“Come on honey, let’s forget about working and paying the mortgage and the light bill. We’re going to Arcturus”), we would be free of government suppression (“What border? You mean that imaginary line down there on the planet?”), and we would be free of corporate suppression (“I see IBM and GE stocks finally tanked.” “Oh? What are ‘stocks’?”). You see what I mean? This is the world we SHOULD live in. This is the world we were promised by our Founding Fathers. What happened to it? Well, from my point of view, it was: Industry, the Rise of the Banks and the Federal Reserve, Mechanization, Factories, World War I, World War II, the suppression of “Academics” who now “own” knowledge, etc., etc. What got lost? The family, true entreprenuership, innovation, art, style…all our dreams. No. Here’s the dream, as rough as it may seem. Much of it is contained in 1889. You have to read between the lines, but it’s there. Okay, that’s my short answer.

Billy: My inspiration came about because I wanted to create a sense of wonder and adventure in our readers like I felt the first time I read H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs and their space adventures; then we wanted to add some spice, with the characters and the twists and turns of a mystery to it, and all of it occurring in a steampunk universe (George’s idea!).  I thought that was a unique twist on the story. In a nutshell, I wanted readers to experience a fantastic adventure unlike anything they’d experienced before.

Maeve: Of course the next thing any writer thinks about when putting characters in outer space is world building. I kept the world building in Conquistadors In Outer Space simple  because the plot was so quirky, the concentration on the book is the relationship between the characters, and it’s short – a novella. So I pulled from the history of the DeSota North America expedition, the physical makeup of the eyes of some insects, and how to ride an ostrich, then I transferred that over to this alien planet with strange creatures and humanoid natives.

I asked Billy and George what they thought was the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe and what are the challenges and advantages of writing steampunk fiction?

GeorgeGeorge: I dunno. I don’t think it’s hard. Take a concept and run with it and let it live and breathe and think and it’ll start doing stuff all on its own. That’s kind of what happened with 1889.

For me the challenge is not to copy the Masters. You have to strike out in your own direction, and you have to be sure of yourself completely. After that, the world opens up and you can do anything, by which I mean…ANYTHING. There are no limits. You can alter time, speed up the harvest and teleport yourself off this rock. We did that with this book. Yeah. That’s the haps.

BillyBilly: I agree with George, writing 1889 was not hard in the sense of storyline, etc.  It practically pulled me along.  I guess if anything could come to mind, as far as being difficult, it would be that the way we wrote it made me wonder at times how I was going to proceed. And the way we wrote it was, one of us would take the story and write without talking to the other, then send it forward, and the other would start, using the same method.  That meant when either one of us received the manuscript again, there were always plot twists and unexpected happenings that made us (at least me), keep my game at a high level, so to speak.  No way to get lazy with these! So it was a little hard, but in a good way.

The challenge: Telling a unique story in a familiar universe.  The advantages: It frees the writer completely.

Maeve: I have never collaborated with other authors so my curiosity was aroused by George Wier and Billy Kring’s  collaboration of 1889 Journey To the Moon. I asked them what method did they you use for their collaboration?And if there was anything they took away from the experience that helped make them a better writer or the story a better story?

 George:  We emailed the book back and forth. I think I gave Billy the basic concept, told him in a general way where I wanted to go with it, wrote the first few pages, then handed it off to him. Whoa! Ten thousand or so words later it comes back. I read it with gusto and I was off like a shot–another 10-15k words, then back to Billy–20k words. I mean, whoa! Back and forth, back and forth. It was done within a few months. One of the fastest things I’ve ever done in my life.

The secret is to find the right collaborator. (Wink!) Okay, all kidding aside, you have to be able to have fun with the project. You also–and for some folks, this is going to be an extremely difficult concept–must be willing to put the thing in your partner’s hands for a given length of time, give them your blessing and let them run with it. I mean, really. Who would have thought? Trust? Another author? Trust them not to mess up your book? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s because it’s a c-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-o-n. It’s not just yours. You really, absolutely and unequivocably have to make sure they make it there’s! I can do that now, for sure. But really, you have to be able to do it even before you “know” for sure. Also, I took away from this experience a much broader horizon. I could have never, not once in a million years, come up with some of the characters, the situations, the description, the dialogue, and the concepts that Billy Kring came up with. The man’s a frickin’ genius. So I suppose the real (REAL) thing here is to find someone who is either better than you are, or is potentially better than you are. Yeah,  what I got out this collaboration with Billy is a new way of looking at things. Anything can happen–and will–in a steampunk adventure. There are no rules. That’s the truth.

Billy: What George said!

It helped that George and I were friends before we collaborated.  And he is the one who thought we would be a good writing match for the story.  He’s outstanding at looking at an idea from about five thousand different angles and seeing which way is best to proceed.  He was the leader in this from start to finish.  And I agree with him, we wanted to make it fun for each of us to write, and to trust each other.  That was a big thing for both of us.  The other thing that happened almost from the first, was the story became magic, and each of us couldn’t wait to get the story back from the other and read how our adventure was going. The energy from that was amazing.  George is one heck of a writer, too, and that made me give it my best.  Some of the passages he wrote were scenes I could never have written, would never have thought about going the way the took it, BUT, that is why it is so entertaining, too.  There are surprises throughout the story, and that will make readers happy.

EternalMaeve: Though I have several published books under the pen name of Cornelia Amiri, I only have two Stemapunk books, To Love A London Ghost and Conquistadors In Outer Space available now but I plan to release Brass Octopus and re-release As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic later this year.

I asked George and Billy what other published works they had and what was next for them?

George: Plenty. First there’s the Bill Travis Mysteries, a series of 8 books (so far) based in Austin, Texas. They are wild rides, all mystery commingled with action-adventure, and a little sci-fi occasionally thrown in. Additionally, there’s Long Fall From Heaven (Cinco Puntos Press, 2013), and various short stories.

The continuation of this series, with the sequel, 1899: Journey to Mars1904: Journey into Time, and 1909: Journey to Atlantis. That’s first. I’m currently working on 7 major projects contemporaneously, including the next two Bill Travis books, a sci-fi collaboration with Robert A. Taylor entitled The Vindicators 2: Parsec, a multi-layered, almost Neal Stephenson-esque blockbuster about the Austin legal community entitled Personal Injury, and a number of others. I would, however, like to specifically say something about 1899: Journey to Mars. If 1889 was fun (let me tell you, it was a total blast!) then 1899 is warp drive. The Tesla robot fighting the evil Westinghouse robots, the characters (many of whom you will recognize both from actual history and from fiction) interacting, walking and talking and shooting down vampire singleship spaceships. Wow. You’re all in for a treat. Hey, you asked.

Billy: Yes.  Two suspense novels in my Hunter Kincaid series, QUICK, and OUTLAW ROAD, and one romantic suspense novel, WHERE EVIL CANNOT ENTER (under B.G. Kring).  My other mystery/suspense series (The Ronny Baca series) will begin very soon with the release of  BACA.

To continue on our other books in the series, and write my other novels, as well as writing screenplays and acting.

Maeve: Before I left Billy Kring, and George Wier I asked them to describe their writing in three words.

George: “Hot and Heavy.”

Billy: Lean and mean.

Here’s the blurb : I’m back in a time that never was–it’s 1889, and eleven people are on a strange steam-powered spaceship to the Moon. Included in the crew are such unlikely passengers and crew as: Billy The Kid, Nikola Tesla, Jack The Ripper, a Sioux warrior out for the blood of George Armstrong Custer (who did not die at the Little Bighorn), a Cossack warrior-princess, a battery of robots, a half-man and half-cyborg engineer, a Punjabi mathematician and linguist, a big-game hunter from Africa, and the grandson of Blackbeard the Pirate, not to mention the genius who designed the ship. There are aliens on the Moon with evil intentions, the robots are wound a little too tightly, and no one knows that the Ripper is along for the ride except for the Londoner himself. What could possibly go wrong? 

Here are their calling cardsGeorge’s Facebook Author Page   FB page for 1889: Journey to the Moon  Twitter: @billtraviswrite  Wordpress: www.georgewier.wordpress.com Billy’s Links: www.billykring.com

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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, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be at Comicpalooza in Houston this weekend please stop by her panels there.

 

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Writing a series is a lot of fun, but the task isn’t without its pitfalls. The most obvious is continuity. After half a dozen books, it can be hard to keep track of every character and remember exactly what they look like, how old they are, and what they like for breakfast. Good record keeping can help that, of course, but even then–how much detail do you write in a series bible? Especially about characters who initially seem relatively minor, like servants or a friend of a friend?

Furthermore, the thing about records is you have to remember to USE them. In the Gaslight Chronicles, I didn’t think I needed to check up on the coloring of Wink, one of my major characters (heroine of book 4) because I’ve always had a very clear view of her in my mind. However when I was preparing to write her story, Moonlight & Mechanicals, I read through two previous books, where she was a secondary character and found, to my chagrin, that her eyes had changed from brown in book 1 to green in book 3. Both were compatible with her darkish copper curls, so I solved the problem by giving her changeable hazel eyes, that shift tone depending on clothing. It seems to have worked–at least I haven’t had any readers or reviewers call me on it yet.

Another problem that can crop up is that as the series continues, each protagonist has to remain unique. This is also something I’ve struggled with. Having just turned in book 7 last week, I’m starting to see personality types duplicate. It was particularly awkward with book 7, because the heroine was Melody, who is Wink’s best friend, fellow adventurer and fellow engineer.  It took a fair bit of work to give Melody her own quirks, but when I really pondered it, she’s not the same person. Wink is the oldest of the Hadrian brood, Melody is the youngest MacKay. Wink lived on the street for many years, Melody has always been wealthy and loved by a large extended family. So of course those differences in background would be reflected in their personalities, even though their temperaments and careers are a lot alike. Melody’s story, which is scheduled for March, 2014, will show you a young woman who loves designing and building airships, but has a weakness for pretty gowns and sensational novels.

The trick with heroes is that even in a series, they all have to be, well, heroic. Brave. Strong. Handsome(ish), Loyal, dependable, and smart. So keeping them from being generic is a tough trick. It’s a skill I’m certainly still honing, and I’m really grateful to have an editor who will say, “He sounds an awful lot like… Make him different.” You can thank her for Connor’s playfulness, Liam’s troubled past, and one of my favorites, Sebastian, from the upcoming Ashes & Alchemy (Jan 6, 2014), whose quiet strength was a challenge to write, but well worth the effort.

Lastly, I’m going to mention time. There are series of books I remember from my childhood, where the characters never age, even though they have adventure after adventure. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys come to mind. That always bugged me. I do keep very detailed charts of when characters were born, so I know how old they are in a certain book.

In steampunk, or any alternate history, you particularly have to keep track of not only how the characters change and grow with time, but how the world around them changes, both with respect to the actual history of the time period, and to the ways in which your fictional technology will grow and change, and change society. In the first Gaslight books, the splitting point from the real world is about ten years back. Because computers were invented in the 1840s, by 1851, there are wonders the Victorians didn’t really have. By the third book, in 1859, there are more things, like telephones and even a budding LAN network, but there is also a smog problem in London so dire that everyone walks around in gas masks. (Don’t worry–Wink is working on air scrubbers!) 🙂

I don’t think the Gaslight Chronicles will run forever. But if they do, even I don’t know for sure what’s in store down the road. I do know 2 things: 1) they will never become so powerful as to overwhelm their world. Someone will rise up to put them back in their place among the rest of humanity.  and 2) Their world will be ever-changing. Just like a real one. 🙂

What do you think? Do you like series that take place in a short span of time or over years? And how long is too long? When’s it time to pack things in and create a whole new reality?

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Maeve Alpin at the Weird West Fest booth at Space City Con 2013

Maeve Alpin at the Weird West Fest booth at Space City Con 2013

Who doesn’t love a good western romance, add Steampunk to the mix and you have a real winner. AMC’s hot T. V. show, Hell On Wheels, is now in it’s third season, set during the Victoria era at the end of the Civil War. Cullen Bohannon is it’s tall, dark bad boy hero, played by Anson Mount. Many women consider him one of their favorite male characters on TV. The popularity of this show leaves no doubt that 19th century American men, in well fitting jeans and well worn cowboy boots, make hot heroes. There are great westerns like Hell on Wheels and there are also great westernpunk shows.

The greatest example of a  westernpunk television show is The Wild Wild West. All the 19th century high tech spy gadgetry made it Steampunk. Even though James West and Artemus Gordon didn’t fly on an airship, they lived in the luxury compartment of a steam powered train.

Nineteenth century locomotives were bigger than life with huge grills in front and towering smoke billowing out. Their long, powerful iron bodies were adorned with decorative brass, gleaming in the hot western sun as they cut across the wild, spacious west. They emitted an orchestra of musical sounds, including the steam whistle and the chuffing noise of the train. All of these things add to the ambiance and settings of Westernpunk stories.

There are several western states Steampunk stories are set in, Texas is one.  As a Texan I can say lots of weird, fantastic, and strange things occurred in Texas in the 19th century and are great inspiration for Westernpunk tales. You may not know but it was a Texan, Jacob Brodbeck, who built and flew the first flying machine. The first take off occurred in 1866 in Gillespie County, Texas. It ran off a powerful clockwork motor and a series of gears. This large motor didn’t build up enough power for the airplane to take off on its own. Brodbeck built a ski-jump type ramp on the side of a hill near Fredericksburg, he’d take his flying machine to the top of it, and as it gained speed sliding down he’d start the motor. He could fly for three or four minutes with power, then he’d glide to a landing.

Comicpalooza 2013

Comicpalooza 2013

Another weird piece of Texas history is the alien UFO crash of 1897 which took place in Aurora Texas.  A cigar-shaped UFO plowed though a windmill, destroying it. The good folk of Aurora discovered a space alien inside, who died upon impact. They gave him a Christian burial. Someone stole the space alien’s tombstone but the state of Texas erected a historical marker at the cemetery, which reads, “This site is also well known because of the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash was buried here.”

The Dallas Morning News printed the story and it can be read online. It stated an airship hit the tower of Judge Proter’s windmill, blew into pieces in a terrific explosion scattering parts of the UFO over several acres, wrecking the windmill and water tank, and destroying the Judge’s flower garden. The pilot, the only one in the spaceship, died upon impact and though his body was badly disfigured it was evident he was not an inhabitant of this world. That sighting and crash was part of the airship scare of 1896, in which UFOs of similar descriptions were reported throughout the U.S. including in Ohio, Iowa, Texas, Arkansas, and California.DSCN0372

Also Texas was its own country for a while, with its own president and its own money. Texas wanted to join the U.S. but what if it didn’t? What if Texas stayed a country? As for that idea, think of all those places in the U. S. originally owned by Spain and France. It reminds me of the Steampunk book, The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming.

Then there’s the shoot-em-up wild west. Would the addition of Steampunk weapons make it more lawless or less?  Obviously it would depend on who had the biggest, baddest guns. What if Native Americans had high-tech weaponry?

DSCN0531As you can see the American west makes as good a setting for Steampunk as Victorian London does. Cherie Priest (Boneshaker) and Devon Monk (Dead Iron) have had great success with using the west for their Steampunk takes. For a Steampunk romance with a hot, western bad boy, I recommend Wilder’s Mate by Moira Rogers, it’s a fun, steamy westernpunk read. Please leave comments on westernpunk romances or western romances that you’ve enjoyed and recommend.

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Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 published romances. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter and her cat, Severus.

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The lovely Lolitas of STEAMED! have asked me to contribute twice a month, and I am quite honored to do so. Initially, at least, my articles will revolve around the interesting historical tidbits of the Victorian Era that appear in my novels and stories.

One my favorite things about writing Steampunk is the research. It’s fascinating, really. So often in my fiction, I incorporate historical people or events or places or even technology. My imagination for technology is rather limited, I’m afraid, as my strengths as a writer are characterization, emotional depth, and dialogue. Technology and world-building are far down the list, so I work with what’s already there, although much of what I incorporate into my work has been all but lost to history. These little-known facts and events and gadgets find new life in my work. With that splendid thing known as creative license, I embellish and bend historical events and 19th century technology to fit the needs of my story.

Today, I’ll focus on The Air Loom: The Human Influencing Machine, something devised in 1810, even before the Victoria’s Reign began in 1837. While doing research on the notorious Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bethlem) Asylum for a guest post called “Lunatics in London” for Bitten by Books during a blog tour, I watched a fascinating documentary on the infamous hospital. Within, they introduced one James Tilly Matthews, the first documented paranoid schizophrenic. I was immediately fascinated by this person and his concept of The Air Loom, so I vowed to work it into my next novel.

In my Steampunk teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer, we visit the horrible Bethlehem Asylum. Although set in 1880, my Bedlam’s halls contain the misery and pain seen in the hospital in Matthews’ time there. After being released from a three-year stint in a French prison for suspicion of being a double agent, Matthews returned to London and proceeded to accuse the Home Secretary of treason in a rather dramatic and publicly disruptive way. Matthews was committed to Bethlem Asylum in 1797 as a lunatic. Fortunately for Matthews, a resident of the hospital for over a decade, he had a relatively cushy room there and ended up drawing plans for the renovation of Bethlem Hospital among many other helpful things. In 1810, he wrote a book called Illustrations of Madness in which he illustrated the influencing machine in great detail both in design and description of purpose. Matthews believed that scientist spies, experts in “pneumatic chemistry,” had set up near Bedlam and was tormenting him by means of rays emitted from The Air Loom.

The Air Loom was a piece of advanced technology, but in the early part of the industrial age advanced technology often meant enormous machinery, rather than the increasing minutarisation that characterise the 21st century. The Air Loom was enormous. The mechanism stood seven metres tall and occupied a footprint of nine square metres, and it was constructed from oak with machined brass fittings.

It was surrounded by barrels that fed noxious gases through oiled leather pipes into the main body of the machine. The gases were derived from substances including ‘gas from the horse’s anus’, ‘seminal fluid’, ‘putrid human breath’ and ‘effluvia of dogs’. (Source)

The machine’s rays exacted such horrendous tortures onto Matthews’ mind like “kiteing,” where ideas were forced into his brain; “thought-making,” where thoughts were removed and replaced by others of the scientist’s choosing; and Lobster Cracking, where “the external pressure of the magnetic atmosphere surrounding the person assailed was increased, ‘so as to stagnate his circulation, impede his vital motions, and produce instant death’.” Other torments included “lengthening of the brain,” “thigh talking,” “fluid locking,” and “bomb bursting.”

Read more about this fascinating machine and see images of The Air Loom, built by artist Rod Dickinson using Matthews’ illustrations at http://www.theairloom.org.

An altered version of The Air Loom appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_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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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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shirtAt an SF con a while ago, I bought a T-shirt that says, “Steampunk means never having to ask ‘Is this period’?” That’s always a big choice when you’re writing alternate history of any variety. How much to keep the same and how much to change? It can be a fine line, trying to give your world that historical flair without simply writing a period novel with some incongruous touches. To quote my agent, “You can’t start out with Downton Abbey and then turn it into Jules Verne.” Well, I guess you could, but it probably wouldn’t work very well. As a former scientist, I tend to want a little order to my fantasy. Yeah, I get the irony.

I try to set my world up with “butterfly effect” differences. In the Gaslight Chronicles, magick (sic) exists and so do paranormal monsters. Therefore, the Order of the Round Table still exists, devoted to protecting England from those threats. After all, who better to organize such a force than Merlin, and who better than Lancelot to head it?  In my version of the 1850s, their descendents are still fighting the good fight. It’s a change from reality, but it’s got a logic to it.

The same goes for technology. In my world a man called Charles Babbage invented the first computers in the 1840s. (He really did, it just never got built. That’s the key change for a lot of steampunk.) In my world, he was also ennobled, and is known as Lord Babbage. From there, technology boomed, and along with it, pollution and other sciences, and women’s rights. Since the code for the Analytical Engine was written by Ada, Lady Lovelace (daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron), it was proven that women could stand alongside men in intellectual pursuits. And then she founded a college for women in the sciences at Oxford University, which a few of my heroines have attended. (Wink from Moonlight & Mechanicals and Geneva from Kilts & Kraken for starters.) Again, there’s a logic, a cause-and-effect to things.

Is my steampunk realistic? Not in the least. There are vampyres and robot dogs and all kinds of other creatures and creations. But does the world make sense in of itself? A little. At least to me.

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Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

In non-steampunk news, Nailed, one of my older erotic romances is being re-released today. Find out more from Resplendence Publishing.

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