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Ancient Egyptian culture had a major influence on the Victorian era and also modern Steampunk. Another Egyptian influence on Steampunk is belly dancing. The name belly dancing was coined in the Victorian era. It’s a translation of the French term – danse du ventre. The first time belly dancing was brought to America was at the 1893 Chicago World’s fair. The act, A Street In Cario was one of the most popular attractions on the Midway.

In the early 1900’s Maud Allan billed as the “Salome Dancer” became famous for her infamous dance of the seven veils. MaudeAllanSalomeHead

steampunk belly dancer at Comicpalooza

Belly dancing has been big in steampunk ever since Abney Park incorporated it into its live shows.Many belly dancers have been inspired to go steampunk, adding goggles, corsets and pantaloons to their costumes. At Comicpalooza this year among the other belly dancers was one who wore a Steampunk type costume.

Diosa, the director of the Osiris Belly Dancing Company explained that at Comiccon they were thrown into the Steampunk genre when they were invited to perform at the Steampunk Ball. There dance style is belly dance fusion and they blend Steampunk into their costuming for specific venues.

Katara the dancer who makes the fabulous costumes of the Osiris Belly Dancing Company,is intrigued by Steampunk’s blend of historical fashions with modern designs. She enjoys the opportunity to play with historical fashions and blend them into something interesting and modern.

astoneTITLEIf you enjoy a blend of Egyptian elements with Steampunk, you’ll enjoy my new release, As Timeless As Stone. It is free this weekend on Amazon from Friday, 07/18/14 – Tuesday, 07/22/14.

Little does Ricard know when he sets the broken head of an ancient Egyptian statue onto its body, the stone figure will transform before his eyes into the most beautiful flesh and blood woman he’s ever seen.

Seshat, an ancient Egyptian Priestess is newly awaken in 19th century Paris, after centuries as a stone statue. Though enchanted by the wondrous inventions of steam-servants and a steam-carriage, she is enthralled by the inventor, Ricard. He ignites her sensual desires and in a steamy night of carnal magic, Seshat transforms Ricard’s life forever. But how far will he go to secure her happiness? Is Ricard’s love for Seshat powerful enough to transcend time?

   ~          ~         ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

 

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Today we welcome Jeannie Lin, who has awesome news to share with us. ~launches cupcake cannon~

the-sword-dancer-mediumJEANNIE LIN writes historical romances set in Tang Dynasty China. Her current release is The Sword Dancer, the first in a new series of romantic adventures involving the salt trade, corruption, and law and order in the 9th century. Her September release, The Lotus Palace, is a romance with a murder mystery set in the infamous Tang Dynasty pleasure quarter. She looks forward to moving a thousand years into the future with the Gunpowder Chronicles to create new worlds and new adventures.  

 

My Steampunk News or “Why I owe Suzanne Lazear a cupcake”

by Jeannie Lin

I thought it only fitting that I make this official announcement on “Steamed” as pretty much it’s Suzanne’s fault.

Flashback to the Romantic Times convention 2011:

I was in the lounge, sipping a cocktail and hanging out with several authors. One of them was Suzanne, wearing a lovely steampunk outfit which I envied.

“We were talking about how there needs to be more multicultural steampunk,” she told me. “And we’ve decided you should write it.”

In case you don’t know her, Suzanne is really shy. She’s also very subtle.

“I wish I could,” I told her, laughing it off. “I just don’t think that way. I can’t even come up with a steampunk plot.”

Because I actually love reading steampunk. I love the worldbuilding and the aesthetic and the whole philosophy of it. I love how open and experimental the genre is. I just have a real hard time coming up with new story ideas. I think I may be the only writer I know who has this issue.

Later in my hotel room, I Googled the Victorian era, where the traditional steampunks tend to take place, and crossed-referenced it with what was happening in China at the time.

And suddenly I wasn’t laughing anymore.

asian_gothicThe Victorian era and the age of colonialism coincide with a dark period in Chinese history. It parallels the Opium Wars, a time when European powers threatened China from the outside and rebellions threatened the empire from within. This period is hailed as the “beginning of modern China”, but also the fall of the imperial government.

It was the time when the Western world rediscovered China and became fascinated with Asian culture and art, creating their own interpretations and misinterpretations of it. The icons of that time are what people think of when they think of historical China: footbinding, mandarin collars, opium pipes and rickshaws.

It was the ultimate era of East meets West.

It was a time when steam technology allowed the British to crush the Chinese navy, which had dominated the seas for centuries.

I began to re-imagine this time through steampunk goggles and it didn’t seem so far-fetched. Technology, societal upheaval , dystopia – it was ALL already there.

Image and fashion were an important component of the emerging identity as cities like Shanghai and Canton struggled with being at once Chinese and foreign, ancient and modern.  The look that emerged was a dramatic one. My imagination ran wild.

chinese_gearsThen I began to research technology. (In addition to being a history geek, I’m actually a big science and technology nerd.) How did a culture that was hailed as technologically superior a thousand years earlier get so blind-sided? And what did China and Japan do in response to this period to try to compete? Some believed that they needed to adopt Western technology. Others shunned it.

I could create a steampunk technology based on native Chinese developments.

I could challenge all the elements I had always found difficult about this period; the colonial oppression, the footbinding, an empire addicted to opium.

I had gone from thinking that there could be a story there…

To thinking this is something I might be able to do…

To “OMG, I HAVE TO WRITE THIS STORY, IT WAS MADE FOR ME!”

History. Science. Rebellion. Empire. Made for me.

Chinese_Gunpowder_FormulaI wrote the first couple of chapters and shipped them off to my agent, who was ecstatic about the story. She pitched it to her top choice for this project who also happened to be my dream editor for the story.

And now I can announce that the Gunpowder Chronicles (working title) have sold in a two book deal to Cindy Hwang at Berkley and is slated for their Intermix digital first imprint.

So thank you for planting the seed, Suzanne. I owe you a cupcake.

~Jeannie

http://www.jeannielin.com

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Announcing my new Steampunk/Romance, Conquistadors In Outer Space, coming this Friday, February 1st. The subtitle is Ana’s Interplanetary Conquest.

Henri de Montaut, from De la terre à la lune (From the earth to the moon), by Jules Verne, Paris (Hetzel), 18??

In an alternate history of 1610 AD, the King of Spain commissions the creation of giant cannons, fashioned from Leonardo Da Vinci’s design, for the purpose of blowing the island of England to the bottom of the ocean. Since that country separated from papal authority, Spain has the approval of the church to separate England from the rest of Europe. Then, after an interrogation by priests with the inquisition, Galileo sees a faraway dot in the night sky with his new telescope. He shows the pope planet X, an actual New World Spain can claim and all the inhabitants can be converted to Christianity. Also all the gold and riches discovered there will belong to Spain alone. So they find a way to use the cannons to that end instead.

Thrown off the Spanish estate she worked at all her life, Ana, a milkmaid, seeks a new life. Disguised as a rich widow, she boards a rocket, to be blasted out of a huge cannon, and targeted for the newly discovered planet, X.  Sparks fly when she finds Ramon, the only man she ever loved, heir of the estate she worked on, is flying to Planet X as well. As the Spanish governor of Plant X searches for gold, the treasure Ramon seeks is Ana. His conquest is challenging, though he swears to protect and love her, as a noble he cannot marry a peasant. Ana cannot deny her desire for Ramon, but she will not be his mistress. Will his conquest of her heart succeed or will Ana make a life for herself alone amid the wonders and dangers of Planet X.

Excerpt:

In an instant the loudest boom and ka-chung noises he ever heard rattled his ears as the metal projectile shook violently. He clenched his teeth as every muscle in his body quaked with the blast.

“It is the Estrella. It is hurdling through space to planet X.”

He recognized the voice of the priest who strapped him in. Ana’s ship, De Nunez had told him. “Is all well,” he yelled out. “Did they lift off safely?”

Now that he had found her again, he needed to protect her. Once they arrived on planet X, he would seize this second chance to win her heart for she’d stolen his long ago.

“Si.” The priest’s tone held a tinge of awe. “In a blaze of light they blasted through the heavens. They are in God’s hands now.”

Ramon let out a long breath of relief. Ana was safe, shooting through space. The Estrella had cast off and the Juanita would soon follow. When his rocket blasted off in an explosion of light and fire, he wouldn’t hear anything.

He felt his mind loose itself in drowsiness. He shut his eyes under the power of this death like sleep and prayed in twenty years he would wake. When he did, he’d be on Planet X with the woman he’d always loved. He knew for the next twenty years of the voyage, he would dream of Ana.

Contest: Comment below to enter my new release contest to win a PDF Ebook of Conquistadors In Outer Space.

Maeve Alpin, Steampunk Romance Author

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Today we welcome Ray Dean!

A reenactor and educator, Ray Dean has delved into many eras of the past, but Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality http://www.raydean.net, explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that might influence a Steampunk world

Countries… Culture… the Wicking Effect

by Raye Dean

When someone brings up Steampunk, most people immediately call up an image of bowler hats, bustles, monocles, corsets, goggles. Then next concept is Victorian alternative history/speculative fiction… and by saying Victorian… the initial connection is England. No argument there for me. I’ve had a longtime love affair with English history, especially the Victorian Era mainly because I have a long history in theater and costume, nuff said.

Still, there’s more to the world of Steampunk than a single country or culture. One of the clearest memories of High School was arguing England’s POV on Colonialism in a debate. Part of the mindset of my argument that England was seeking to, in a way, make the world England. The underlying idea for me was that making the world over in its own image was to make it something they could understand. Foreign was fine for quaint pieces of furniture, luxurious fabrics, spices and wild creatures fit for menageries, but it wasn’t England.

Colonialism is impossible in its purest sense. There is no way to take control of another country and its people without having ‘the Wicking Effect.’ What do I mean by that? I used to hand paint silk and when you add a color onto the fabric it will spread and continue to spread until it hits the end of the fabric or the wall of resist that the artist adds. Add another color to the mix and they’ll spread and mix and change together. The same happens with culture.

Put an Englishman in China, even if he continues to observe all the societal norms and keeps himself as ‘separate’ as possible, there is no way to avoid some sort of exchange of culture. Perhaps a Jasmine tea will become a favorite of his or he’ll use a silk fabric for his waistcoat that has a design motif common for the area. The locals in the area will change as well. They will pick up on his inflection, learn what his habits are and try as they might to avoid absorbing some of it… it will happen.

In the Shanghai Steam anthology this mixing or clash of cultures is a main point of a number of stories.

Derwin Mak (the author of “Flying Devils”) explains:

Steampunk tends to romanticize European culture and its technology of the nineteenth century. I heard one steampunk costumer say it was “nobler period.” Well, it was for some people. It was a nobler period than today if you were a white European who left Europe’s slums and colonized another continent. If you were African, Asian, or Native American, it wasn’t as glorious. The Chinese do not romanticize the nineteenth century as a golden era. Instead, it was the time of national humiliation and the uneven treaties.

I merged the two opposing views of the nineteenth century by basing my story on the Self-Strengthening Movement in the Chinese military. My story is about one of the ideological conflicts of the time.

In my own story, “Fire in the Sky,” I had set up my own alternative history:

There are more walls than wick as the English are viewed as an economic occupying force. The people that occupy the town have had to accomodate not only the English trade ships but the technology that came with them. In my opinion, there are few absolutes. In the case of the technology brought in by the English, there are those that accept it and those that turn their back on it, but even those that are eager to advance themselves with technology… it doesn’t always work for them. For me part of the fun of this mix and clash of cultures is the accomodations that have to be made. And when accomodations don’t work? You salvage what you can… and make do.

Emily Mah (author of “Last Flight of the Lóng Qíshì”) has another take on merging cultures:

Since mine’s post apocalyptic, much of the Chinese culture is only left in the aesthetics of the old technologies. The culture that inhabits the ruins left behind is a mix of different ethnicities who live as hunter/gatherers.

This isn’t just limited to the English in their travels and expansions. The concept of foreign also applies to immigrants.

Laurel Anne Hill (author of “Moon-Flame Woman”) had a different perspective:

The tremendous contribution of Chinese workers in the building of the U.S. Transcontinental Railway never ceases to impress me.  Yet nineteenth-century Chinese laborers in the United States didn’t receive the respect they deserved.  Immigrants were–and still are–often viewed as stereotypes.  I wrote Moon-Flame Woman to depict immigrants as individuals.

Americans seemed to absorb other cultures faster, giving them footholds where a country like England wouldn’t see fit. A number of dishes that Americans ate during the same period were not from China. The Chinese cooks in America would throw together whatever odds and ends were around and earned itself a place in American stomachs and on many menus. The commonly accepted history of the ‘chop suey’ you see on modern menus comes from this very practice. Perhaps this hodge podge worked better in America because the country, as it was shaping up, was more of an immigrant nation.

When the Shanghai Steam anthology is released you’ll have the opportunity to delve into the nineteen short stories that add up to a unique Steampunk… and Wuxia… experience. As you read through the stories look for those moments when cultures crash and/or bleed into each other. Keep careful watch… one culture may just push back.

What cultures would you like to see come crashing into one another? What types of culture bleeds might happen when two foreign nations interact? Where can you add this idea into your own work?

Contributing Authors listed in alphabetical order:

Ray Dean “Fire in the Sky”   http://www.raydean.net

Lauren Anne Hill “Moon-Flame Woman”     http://www.laurelannehill.com/

Emily Mah “Last Flight of the Long Qishi”   http://www.emilymah.com

Derwin Mak “Flying Devils”  http://www.derwinmaksf.com

~Raye Dean

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Today we welcome Ay-leen the Peacemaker, aka Diana M. Pho.

Ay-leen the Peacemaker (Diana M. Pho) is a fandom scholar, activist, blogger, and general rabble-rouser. She edits the multicultural steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana. In May 2012, she earned her MA in Performance Studies from New York University and works for Tor Books & Tor.com. You can also find her on Academia.edu and Twitter.

What Do You Do with an MA in Steampunk?

by  Ay-leen the Peacemaker (Diana M. Pho)

After four years of college, with plenty of knowledge in what a well-known musical has termed a “useless” degree (though, technically, more than in English – I double-majored with Russian), I arrived at the classic Quarter-Life Crisis. I’d been in the Real World, yet was second-guessing myself. Was my career path where I wanted it to be? Was this where I envisioned myself when I left my alma mater? Compared to my peers, after the economy died, I was lucky: working in publishing at a secure job with solid prospects. But something since undergrad came into my life that had reminded me how much I missed academia. Steampunk.

Last year, then, I embarked on my own intellectual pursuits and enrolled in the Master’s Performance Studies Program at New York University (but what is performance studies, you may ask? Read this for your best answer, trust me.) What I conducted was cultural analysis behind steampunk performances – from steamsonas & cosplay to musical albums to plays to Maker objects and art pieces. I was known as the “Steampunk Expert” by my cohort mates, which wasn’t an unusual moniker to have considering that my colleagues included stage actors, dance company directors, a practicing shaman, several Occupiers, and an African princess.

I’m not the only academic into steam, either. Mike Perschon’s steampunk pursuit of a Ph.D in Literature was one of the inspirations for my return to school.  Jaymee Goh, my intellectual comrade-in-arms, was already in an MA program before me, and she’s now in a Ph.D program at UC Riverside. Dr. Dru Pagliassotti and Cory Gross’s early analysis about steampunk helped me focus my own ideas, and others like Dr. Catherine Siemann, Martha Swetzoff, James Carrott, and Austin Sirkin have all served as sounding boards and mentors. According to Academia.edu, there is a growing interest in steampunk scholarship.

Most importantly, though, academic presses are seeking steampunk too. The Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies has also done articles on steampunk and dedicated a special issue on it; the guest editors for that issue, Dr. Brian Croxall, and Dr. Rachel Bower just closed a call for papers for a proposed anthology.  Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style and Steaming into a Victorian Future are two anthologies that have graciously accepted my work; in a “publish or perish” realm of the academy, this is pretty good for a fresh MA grad.

But why steampunk and why now?

Please indulge my little theory. Renown theorist and anthropologist Clifford Geertz noted in 1980 what he termed “the reconfiguration of social thought.”  Namely, he thought that instead of analyzing the world as a series of “texts” (The book! The website! The film! The “details” of a particular incident existing solely by itself) or as a series of “social dramas” (The event! The ritual! The “bigger situation” that a text may be found in), scholarly analysis is breaking down to mingle both methods. Geertz argues that scholars are looking at more than texts, but the context of that text. In other words, “a division between those who study individual texts (historians, editors, critics–who like to call themselves humanists), and those who study the activity of creating texts in general (linguists, psychologists, ethnographers–who like to call themselves scientists),”[i] does not exist anymore. Thus, basically, humanists, scientists, and artists are gleefully playing in the same sandbox.

Geertz’s observations were made more than 30 years ago, and yes, academic thinking has evolved to become more interdisciplinary. Steampunk, which covers everything in the Academy plus the kitchen sink, fits in with this development in philology.

Steampunk enables “brainy” factions to co-exist in harmony, sitting together like the lunchtime cafeteria table you wished you had in high school. The hard sciences in physics, engineering, and robotics beside colleagues in the literature and history without resorting to fisticuffs. The musicians, artists, fashion designers, and indie filmmakers flit between the tables, and the other two groups are inspired by them instead of waving them off as being the shallow or impractical fields. Then there’s the occasional anthropologist or media studies professor or sociology documentarian hovering around the borders of the room, shooting their latest series of talking heads for their own cultural analysis.  Steampunk represents so much to so many, because it acts as an umbrella for so many other intellectual pursuits.

In addition, the breakdown of the any sort of dominant “master narrative” – whether it be in pop culture, media technology, or social thought – is one of the pillars of post-modernism today. Fredric Jameson once critiqued post-modernism as being a mish-mash of empty gestures that do not parody, satire, or do anything beyond shallow entertainment: borrowing for the sake of borrowing without any deeper meaning.[ii]

Instead of casting off the cultural trends as being meaningless, however, I believe today’s blending of signs and symbols is a philosophical – and materialistic – bending of our place in time. Our mish-mash has meaning. Time itself is a human invention, and unilateral time is a modern Western concept. Despite the popularity of heritage brands, past scientific techniques and inventions – even the cut of our clothes and a renewed appreciation of our localized histories – we are not simply “going back to the past.” Instead, we are letting the past resurface, filtering through the glory and the debris through out actions and our creations. We are twisting time to suit our needs.  We are re-materializing bits of our pasts, piece-meal, through the cultural objects we create and the ideas we can revitalize.

Critics occasionally accuse scholars of over-intellectualing frivolous notions or ephemeral cultural trends. I don’t think it is overanalyzing, though, when I say that steampunk scholars are interpreting the signposts. The idea of genre-blurring is becoming more prevalent now than ever before; moreover, however, in today’s world, this blurring is part of an inevitable transition away from the old structural formations within modern society. Steampunk may be casually summed up as “retrofuturistic science fiction” but the ability to fantasize is necessary to create ideas about the future. As cultural theorist Lauren Berlant summed up in her recent work Cruel Optimism: “…the energy that generates this sustaining commitment to the world of undoing a world while making one requires fantasy….”[iii]

Scholars contribute just as much as any other person involved in the steampunk community, but more than just acting as thinkers. The steampunk scholar has to be a doer.

Steampunk is a verb now, (or, rather, has always been), and I stand by that to emphasize that an academic in steampunk is typically more than just an academic stuck in the ivory tower. They are also on the ground, interacting: socially, creatively, emotionally, and physically, as well as intellectually.

But the practical (for steampunk and the real world is partially rooted in the utilitarian) question remains: what do you do with an MA in steampunk?

Anything you can imagine, I suppose.

~Ay-leen the Peacemaker (Diana M. Pho)Founding Editor of BeyondVictoriana.com A Multicultural Perspective on Steampunk

Blogger for Tor.com

Twitter: writersyndrome
Steampunk Empire 

 


[i] Clifford Geertz. “Blurring genre: on reconfiguring social thought,” HyperGeertz. http://hypergeertz.jku.at/GeertzTexts/Blurred_Genres.htm. Accessed: October 21, 2012.

[ii] Fredric Jameson. Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992),17.

[iii]    Lauren Berlant. Cruel Optimism. (Durham: NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 263.

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Steampunk Greek Gods – photographed by Foodbyfax at DragonCon 2010

Steampunk writers and readers love clockwork automations but they go back much further than you may think. They begin as long ago as ancient Greece, third century B.C. with Ctesibus, the first head of the library in Alexandria. He invented the hydraulis a water organ and the first keyboard musical instrument, the ancestor of the modern pipe organ. Clocks are a big part of Steampunk and his, the clepsydra, kept more accurate time than any clock until Dutch physicist, Christiaan Huygens invented the pendulum clock in the 17th century AD. If Ctesibus invented such a marvelous clock, what else could he, someone, or others have created to technologically revolutionize ancient Greece? Does your muse have you thinking about togas? What about a Steampunk and Greek mythology? Steampunk Greek Goddesses.

Asian Steampunk at Aetherfest 2012

But before Huygens came along with his swinging pendulum, a Chinese monk, Su Sung, created atowering clepsydra in 1092 AD. It stood five stories high, and was operated by a large water wheel, which acted very similar to a modern clock escapement. It most likely was the first mechanical clock. Every fifteen minutes the water wheel turned, then all the other cogs and gears, which opened and closed doors that released the automata. Here is a scale model of Su Sung’s clock. Just imagine, historical China and Steampunk, what a perfect combination for an exotic, adventure tale.

Let’s go through the mist of time from China to Japan back when Shoguns ruled and to the invention of karakuri dolls, the ancestors of modern robots.The dolls were crafted of paulownia wood with gear wheels to move the joints, and whale whiskers were used as the springs in the mechanism.

Just think, Shoguns, robots, and Steampunk, who could ask for more.

I hope you find this information interesting and aslo helpful for anyone who’s writing a Steampunk story set much further back than the 19th century.

Maeve Alpin

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Ancient Egyptian culture has had a major influence on the Victorian era and also modern Steampunk. As indicated by the titles, two classic Steampunk novels include strong Egyptian influences: The Osiris Ritual by George Mann and The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.

Pretty Miss with Parasol belly dancing at ComicCon’s Steampunk Ball

The 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: Heru peered within the sarcophagus, at a coffin shaped like a human figure, in a green headdress with a single yellow stripe and a jewel painted in the middle. His gaze lingered on the beautiful hieroglyphics in orange and blue, thinking of the power they held and the magic his mother created with them in her spells.

“Now, what we have all waited for.” Mister Mugrage opened the coffin. A gilded mask lay over a linen sheet wrapped around a human corpse.

Heru rubbed his brow, then fisted his hand, aching to punch Felicity’s father in the teeth.

Mister Mugrage removed the mask in the likeness of the mummy inside and held it up. “This mask is a wonderful treasure for the evening and I will do you all the favor of parting with it for the highest offer made.”

The crowd all sighed with “oohs” and “ahs.” Heru could tell by the gleam in several people’s eyes, they wanted to own it. This was all about money to Mister Mugrage. He had no love of the history, the art, or the spiritual significance his daughter seemed to understand. Heru vowed he wouldn’t blame Felicity for her father’s actions, but a throbbing surge of anger rose in him as she unwrapped the sheet from the mummy. The guests closed in like a mob and thrust forward. Heru could hardly breathe, the room felt void of air.

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!”

Felicity rushed to her father and clutched his arm “What is it?”

“I can’t move my hands, not even to lift a finger. They are numb, I cannot feel anything.”

Steam Driven Belly Dancing

Even more than mummy unwrapping parties, the Victorians loved costume balls. Cleopatra influenced costumes were highly fashionable at these affairs. Steam Ingenious’ Steampunk Cleopatra fancy dress project is inspired by authentic Victorian fashion plates of Egyptian costumes. It’s a recreation of the Celopatra costume 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 and the details of the pattern and the fabrics are included.

Another Egyptian influence on Steampunk is belly dancing, which has been big ever

Sword & Steampunkery

since Abney Park incorporated it into its live shows. Many belly dancers have been inspired to go steampunk adding goggles, corsets and pantaloons to their costumes. The extraordinary Steampunk Belly Dancers featured here are from the Osiris Dance Company. If they look familiar, they perform at the Steampunk Ball at ComicCon each year and they will also be performing at the Wild West Festival in Tucson next year.

A heroine who belly dances could add an interesting element to a Steampunk novel.

As you can see it’s easy to weave some exotic Egyptian influences into your Steampunk books.

If you liked the excerpt from As Timeless As Magic the novel is free as a kindle eBook from today until Friday, August 31st.

Maeve Alpin

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