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Posts Tagged ‘steampunk technology’

I love cemeteries. Always have. In college, we had a particularly old one in the historic Texas town where I grew up. Sam Houston, once president of Texas, is buried there among the ancient tombstones and moss-covered monuments. Two of the most popular statues therein are those college students referred to as the Black Jesus, a bronze statue of Christ, and the Angel of Death, a quite beautiful statue of an angel whose crevices are stained with mildew. One, by the way, I would view quite differently now after BLINK (as Whovians would understand). We’d go there in the middle of the night, tripping on whatever psychedelic we had taken that night in the early 90s, and talk, dream, philosophize, etc. After reading Anne Rice my freshman year, my Gothic nature was both defined and solidified.

My fiction leans more toward the Gothic fantasy side of Steampunk than the highly technological science fiction side of Steampunk’s beginnings. Sure, my work has sprinklings of fantastic Steampunk technology, but the dark themes of my work almost always deal with death and loss in one way or another. From my Gothic short stories, like the erotic, Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice Award-winning “A Kiss in the Rain” to my novels Avalon Revisited and The Zombies of Mesmer, when it comes to my taste in fiction, reading or writing it: the darker, the better.

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Cross Bones Graveyard in my research, home of “The Outcast Dead.” Stretching back to medieval times, the graveyard became home to the unwanted, the poor, and the working girls between the 16th to 19th centuries. Those too poor to be buried properly in hallowed ground at the nearby Southwark Cathedral, then known as St. Saviour’s, found their final resting place at Cross Bones. Many a prostitute throughout that time, including the infamous “Winchester Geese,” prostitues licensed to work by the Bishop of Winchester, from the 18th century, are among the hundreds buried in this tiny plot of land. In 1853, the graveyard was closed “on the grounds that it was ‘completely overcharged with dead’ and that ‘further burials’ would be ‘inconsistent with a due regard for the public health and public decency’.”

In 1990, a partial excavation was done at the site, removing some 148 skeletons. It’s estimated that’s less that 1% of all the 15,000 buried on those tiny grounds.

Situated on Redcross Way, it’s iron gates have become a colorful shrine to the forgotten dead as well as others lost by visitors. Glorious colorful ribbons and roses cover the entrance to this once-shamed place, telling its inhabitants and the world that every decent person is worthy of respect and remembrance, despite their livelihood or economic status.

The amazing Julie Mollins, the same reporter who wrote an article on me for Reuters in 2011, reported on Cross Bones and John Constable, the man who breathed life back into the graveyard with The Southwark Mysterys plays and monthly ritual honoring the forgotten dead.

Next month, I’ll be traveling to London in part to plan an O. M. Grey Tour of London for 2014, where I will personally take readers to the places found in my novels and short stories. On that tour that will take us all from Bedlam to Gray’s Inn Road to Hyde Park and beyond, the Cross Bones Graveyard will be one of the many stops in the Gothic borough of Southwark.

The Cross Bones Graveyard 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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Heather Hiestand is the author of seven novels and numerous novellas and short stories. Her latest release is a steampunk romance novella, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas.

Airships on my Mind

by Heather Hiestand

Thanks for allowing me to visit today, Steamed!, and discuss one of my favorite topics.

Gadgets are a perpetually exciting part of writing steampunk and the airship is one of the most durable elements. Some authors have them drifting across the sky, providing a backup, some have characters travelling on them in casual fashion, and some of our characters have to get a bit more up close and personal with these lighter-than-air machines. There are as many variations to the airship as there are writers to imagine them.

Here is the first view of an airship in my novella, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas:

Linet dashed back to the window. Yes, a rope ladder, just like the ones she’d climbed thousands of times to her father’s dirigible, the Christmas, dangled outside, a little lower now. Ladders had been the staircases of her life until she was seventeen, carrying her from earth to sky, larceny to freedom.

Who had found her? Her father had enemies, to be sure, but no enemy would be visiting her on Christmas Eve. No one from her old life had crossed her path in all this time. Perhaps her sister Terrwyn had finally reappeared?

She reached through the window and grabbed the ladder, then frowned. That knot with a gash on the left side looked familiar. One rung was painted red, the next, green. Her gaze rose, unbelieving.

The Christmas tossed gently, grandly, merrily, on the wind, the green and red-striped balloon over the deck radiating holiday cheer. She watched the propellers turn for a minute, dumbfounded.

When I wrote Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas, I didn’t have to know too much about airships, but as I write the sequel, Captain Fenna’s Dirigible Valentine, I’m having to understand them a bit more. Lots of sky battles in the new story! I’m far from an expert, but I’m making use of some excellent websites.

Here is my list:

To start, Wikipedia always has great information. http://www.wikipedia.org. Just search on whatever term you are wondering about, like dirigible or zeppelin.

I use Mapquest to figure out travel routes for my airships. http://www.mapquest.com

If you need to understand the basic parts of a dirigible, here is a good site:  http://history.howstuffworks.com/world-war-i/dirigible1.htm

Fantastic real world information:  http://www.airships.net/

Need some help with air acrobatics? http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/questions.html#anchor1234506

I use actual ships to figure out layout and size of the ship part of my flying contraptions. Sales sites for ships, versus aircraft, are very handy for that. One site I use, that has slideshows of actual boats, is:  http://www.boatquest.com.

This is a discussion on Steampunk Empire about building steampunk airships and models:  http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum/topics/building-an-actual-airship?xg_source=activity&id=2442691%3ATopic%3A569797&page=2

~ Heather Hiestand

http://blog.heatherhiestand.com
Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas links:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Captain-Christmas-Steampunk-Smugglers-ebook/dp/B005WASTQK

Smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/96889

BN:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Captain-Andrews-Flying-Christmas/Heather-Hiestand/e/2940013314191

ARe:

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-captainandrew039sflyingchristmas-624819-339.html

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Got swag?  I’m running a contest over at my other blog.

Now, back to today’s post.

Kickstarter.

All the cool kids seem to be doing it.  It’s a grass-roots project incubator allowing the average person to seek investors for projects.  Investors usually get some sort of limited edition goodies for contributing towards the project’s goal.

There’s some neat steampunk projects going on right now. This is just a sampling…

Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination is a museum exhibit slated to open in October at Muzeo in Anaheim, CA,

The exhibit will introduce visitors to an era in which science and industry were combined to launch mankind into the 20th Century (and beyond) – to become a world where ordinary human beings could do the impossible. Historical pioneers like Charles Babbage and prominent personalities like Nikola Tesla will also be revealed for their contributions to the development of incredible technological advances.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aeronautproductions/steampunk-history-beyond-imagination-museum-exhibi/widget/video.html

The League of S.T.E.A.M is seeking funding for Season II of their webasode series.

We will spend the money to purchase essential equipment to meet the various production needs we will face throughout the season, as well as provide opportunities for us to film in new and exciting locations for our audience to enjoy. We will create new equipment to help us tell our thrilling stories, and because of our team’s history of making functional props, we can guarantee you’ll be able to see this equipment in person at our live show ventures.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/leagueofsteam/adventures-of-the-league-of-steam-season-two/widget/video.html

Ever wanted an intergalactic transporter?

Chico Urban Artists Collective (CUAC) is building a 28 foot steampunk-style spaceship that we’re calling the Intergalactic Transporter (Mutant Vehicle) using a retired 1981 firetruck as the platform vehicle. The upper deck will be a dance floor, lower deck will be a chill space to hang out, and the exterior will provide additional seating and bike parking. It will be an interactive participatory conceptual art experience.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1905360854/intergalactic-transporter/widget/video.html

A Victorian Knitting Primer

The Ladies of Mischief is a collective of talented ladies who want to take the knitting and steampunk world by storm, combining the two genres into one amazing work of fantastic imagery, story telling, and creative artistry.

We have started up a blog filled with exclusive patterns, stories, journal entries, photographs and more. Please stop by to read up on each of the Ladies and follow all of their adventures.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2082319929/needles-and-artifice-a-victorian-knitting-primer/widget/video.html

There’s also a Pipe Organ Backpack!

I plan to make a light-weight, fully functional, small-scale WEARABLE pipe organ! I have a passion for strange instruments and I hope to create one of my own. My ultimate goal is to not only create this instrument, but to also document and share instructions on its design so that others can build them in the future. At the end of the project, I will post the instructions online for free.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1461644610/functional-pipe-organ-backpack-the-borgan/widget/video.html

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I’m going to be teaching Writing Steampunk Aether to Zephlin again, this is revised version of the class I taught last November (which was great fun) and a beginner/intermediate overview class covering the basic nuts and bots of writing Steampunk.  It runs July 5 – July 29, 2011 via a private email loop classroom.  The cost is $20.   More info here. 

 

Writing Steampunk Technology

The trick to writing about technology and your gadgets is to only reveal to the reader what your character might actually know.  Otherwise, it can pull us out of the story, feeling like both an author intrusion and an info dump.

For example, a society lady may give no thought to how something works, only noting that it might be noisy, messy, or shiny.  But an inquisitive child or a scientist might analyze its workings or even come up with improvements in their heads.

But at the same time, this isn’t a license to info dump or spend paragraphs waxing poetic about steam engines (even if it is in character).  Keep in mind – does the reader need to know this and does the reader need to know this now. 

Your technology should be showcased in your steampunk novel, but at the same time, you don’t need to point out or dissect every, single detail.  This screams “See, my novel is steampunk, look, look” and can take the reader out of the story.  Again, think about what your particular character would actually notice, what they may actually know about a particular item, its uses, origins, and inner-workings.

Also, your technology needs to be integral to your world building.  If you can take the tech out of your story, and it still stands, it’s not truly steampunk.

However, it may still have steampunk elements, and if you’re okay with this, then by all means, go for it.  Otherwise you may need to rethink your tech and world and brainstorm on ways to make it stronger.

Here’s a starter list of Steampunk tech here.

How is your tech integral to your world?

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This is the last week of Steampunkapalooza.  Thank you so much for participating.  We have some good stuff for you this week.

First off, we have some winners to announce.

We have a copy of Ren Cummin’s Reaper’s Return:

VVB

Now we have the Gail Carriger prize pack, which includes a copy of Blameless and and autographed fan.

Elmo Adams

Congrats.  To claim your prize please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail

Didn’t win?  Win a copy of one of Leanna Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful books or another swag and book bag from RT.

Today we welcome YA author Kady Cross.

In her other life Kady Cross is a USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 books. She is lucky enough to have a husband who shares her love for the slightly twisted, and all things geek, and a houseful of cats with whom she shares her darkest secrets.  When she’s not listening to the characters in her head she’s either trying to formulate the perfect lipgloss or teaching herself to solder. She has a weakness for all things girly, sugar skulls, and boots. Her love of books and makeup borders on addiction – from which she never, ever wants to be cured.

Steampunk Tech and Teens

by Kady Cross

First of all, I just want to say thank your for having me here today!

My book, The Girl in the Steel Corset (Harlequin Teen) comes out on May 31st of this year. It’s a Steampunk young adult novel about a girl named Finley Jayne, who has extraordinary abilities that often land her in deep trouble. This time is no exception, as she flees her job after beating up her boss’s son. She runs straight into the path of Griffin King, Duke of Greythorne and his friend Sam Morgan. Both young men as every bit as extraordinary as Finley, though in their own ways. There’s also Emily O’Brien, the technological genius of the group, and cowboy Jasper Renn, who can draw a gun faster than most people can blink. Together the five of them will uncover the plans of a criminal mastermind named The Machinist, while Finley seeks Griffin’s help in becoming less of a danger to herself and those around her.

One of the key elements to any Steampunk story is the technology. It’s simply not Steampunk if you don’t have some kind of science or machines. What I wanted to do with The Girl in the Steel Corset is create technology that today’s savvy teens can relate to, but still stay true to the Victorian ‘feel’ of the story. When we first meet Griffin King, he’s riding a velocycle at night. A velocycle is basically a motorcycle — a big, fairly heavy motorcycle with lots of brass and sometimes wood. However, they’re steam-instead of having a gasoline engine. It’s a somewhat plausible mode of transportation, plus it’s a lot cooler than a horse — unless it’s an automaton horse, of course.

A third piece of tech is the Aethernet — a computer built out of an old type writer, a mirror and some other bits of scrap — is a tongue in cheek reference to the internet. This is what Griffin uses to research the ‘cases’ he undertakes. He’s able to patch into Scotland Yard and look at their records, which comes in very handy when looking for info on villains, or doing Aethernet dating. 🙂

I also have such things as mechanical hearts, automatons, metal body parts and a life-size steel panther. There are dirigibles too. In fact, Griffin owns his own airship — the equivalent of a private jet.  There are many more gadgets in the book, and certainly much more science and technology, but I don’t want to give it all away.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is set in a world where innovation runs wild and anything is possible. It’s also a world being changed by evolution. The wellspring of life has bubbled up from the center of the earth and slipped to the surface, taking some humans to the next stage of development. These people have amazing and often terrifying abilities that they don’t understand themselves. For me this is the quintessential them of being a teenager — that of feeling like an outsider, or that people (especially adults) don’t understand  or respect you. My characters are figurative freaks, and literal ones as well.

So now I have a question for you: what kind of technology would you like to see in a Steampunk novel? If you’re not certain, how about telling me how you would evolve if you lived in Finley Jayne’s world.

~Kady Cross

http://www.kadycross.com

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Today we welcome Author Zoë Archer She will be giving away a copy of SCOUNDREL to one lucky commenter. Contest closes Sunday, October 24th, 2010 at 11:59 pm PST.

Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. Her BLADES OF THE ROSE series—featuring dashing men and fearless women—is available now. Zoë and her husband live in Los Angeles.

Technology in Blades of the Rose

When I started writing my BLADES OF THE ROSE series, my goal wasn’t to write steampunk romance. What I planned on writing, what I wanted to write, were books that defied romance categorization. I set out to create romances that I always longed for but never saw on the shelves. The BLADES books would have action, adventure, exotic locations, magic, history, and a healthy amount of hot love scenes.

I conceived of the Blades of the Rose as a secret organization of men and women who travel the globe seeking and protecting the world’s magic from theft and exploitation. In essence, they are a spy team acting on behalf of magic rather than the interests of any one nation. To make things interesting—and difficult—the Blades cannot use magic that isn’t theirs by gift or right. Of course, the villains of these books have no qualms about stealing and using magic to further their goals of world domination. Which leaves the Blades at a distinct disadvantage.

Thinking about the spy team model, I decided that the Blades needed a Q. If you remember, Q supplies James Bond and other members of the British Secret Service with diabolical gadgets to aid them in their espionage. Some of Q’s awesome inventions include car ejector seats, dagger shoes, rings concealing cameras and deadly pens, just to name a few. In the Bond films, 007 stopped by Q’s lab, and an exasperated Q would demonstrate the latest in gadgetry, followed by a stern admonition for Bond to please not destroy the merchandise. Of course, Bond always used the gadgets and they almost always were destroyed during the course of the mission. Poor Q.

I wanted the Blades to have their very own Q. But instead of a research and development team headed by a single man, the Blades had the Graves family—several generations of scientific and mechanical geniuses who utilize the current technology to assist the Blades in their work. The key there is current technology. Why? Because the first four BLADES OF THE ROSE books are set between 1874 and 1875.

Here is where the steampunk element comes into play. Catullus Graves, the current scion of the Graves family, does not use any magic when inventing devices. Nor does he have difference engines, robots or any other advanced technology. He is limited solely to what is available in the mid 1870s. Not only that, but because the Blades take his inventions out into the field, the devices he builds must be portable and easy to use at a moment’s notice. To put it plainly, steam-powered mechanisms are out. It would be far too cumbersome for a Blade to haul around a steam engine when adventuring in the wilds of Mongolia (as they do in WARRIOR), sailing the Aegean (SCOUNDREL), trekking through the rugged Canadian Rockies (REBEL), or journeying to undiscovered lands (STRANGER).

I’m going to straight up own right now that I had my own scientific genius helping me in the conception and design of Catullus Graves’s diabolical gadgets: my husband. He and I would brainstorm ideas for cool devices that could only use late Victorian technology, with my husband’s scientific understanding helping to fill in the gaps of how something worked. Liberties were taken. I don’t know if the implements created by Catullus could actually work. But they are, at least, plausible. Sometimes, the idea for the gadget came first, and then we’d think about a scenario in which the gadget could be used. Sometimes, a situation in the plot would arise and the challenge came to see what kind of device might be useful. Both approaches were a blast to write and add a cool element to each book.

Catullus even gets his own book—and I knew, without a doubt, that I would have to put him in a scenario where he needs to “MacGyver” his way out of a tough situation using only items on hand. What kind of things does Catullus invent and what do the Blades use in the field? I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment in discovering these gadgets, so you’ll have to read the books to find out.

It’s been suggested that the BLADES OF THE ROSE books are steampunk. That might be overstating the case too much. If you’re looking for airships, clockwork robots and ether-guns, you won’t find them in my series. But what you will find is adventure, magic, danger, hot romance and very fun gadgets, which I think is a blueprint for a rollicking good time.

— Zoë Archer

www.zoearcherbooks.com
http://twitter.com/Zoe_Archer
http://www.facebook.com/#!/zoe.archer1

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