Steampunking American History -Steam Patriots

I have had several run-ins with the American way to paint history in my time. Chiefly during the student’s exchange in 1988/89. It is therefore with some mixed feelings I present this Steampunk Kickstarter project to you. It sounds really interesting, but I am a little cautious about it. If you are an American yourself, you will very likely think „Hey, this is awesome.“
I for my part call Nottingham in the UK my hometown and looking back on how American cinema has portrayed British characters since the dawn of American cinema… Well, you get the idea.

In any case, this is the official video for the campaign:

This is the press-release regarding Steam Patriots (and this is the Kickstarter page):

Steam Patriots: Steampunk meets the Revolutionary War – American History Never Looked So Cool

Minneapolis, MN – November 15, 2012

Noble Beast is developing Steam Patriots, a series of five fictional stories that merge steampunk with the story of the American Revolution.

In Steam Patriots the War of American Independence is fought by flying airships where soldiers exchange cannon fire far above the fray of steam-powered tanks, smoke-belching steamcycles and soldiers with semi-automatic muskets.

Bringing the future of digital publishing to the present, the Steam Patriots book apps will include engaging features of animation, diagrams, interactive maps and audio, along with social features that allow readers to share comments within the story with other readers.

Noble Beast aims to make American history cool for readers who may otherwise not be drawn into learning about the Revolutionary War.

The Steam Patriots story follows Felix, a young man who crosses the thirteen colonies battling Red Coats while meeting some of the most important historical figures in US History. Felix becomes the protégé of Benjamin Franklin, a spy for George Washington, and a boon companion to the patriot-pirate John Paul Jones.

Everything the Founding Fathers experienced in the pursuit of Liberty presents itself to Felix in a very personal way. Felix suffers horribly at Valley Forge, fights valiantly at Yorktown, and witnesses the formation of a more perfect union.

The Steam Patriots series will be published on multiple platforms including ebook, iPad app, printed book, audiobook, web app and Braille.

Steampunk is a speculative fiction genre of literature, art, and music based on the Victorian aesthetic and updated with steam-powered technology.

„Steampunk set in the American Revolution has never been done before, but we’ve got a fantastic story, remarkable art, and the drive to see it through,” said Noble Beast producer-director, Richard Monson-Haefel.

3 Responses to Steampunking American History -Steam Patriots

  1. Hi! Thanks so much for featuring this project, I’m a big fan of it.
    If you don’t mind, can you tell me more of the bad portrayals you’ve seen in film? I’d love to know why you’re cautious–every country paints its own history in pretty colors, so as an American I can’t see clearly.

    • Hey Ellie,
      Of course you are a fan, you are on the team… 😉 Regarding the portrayal: The most popular example is Mel Gibson’s The Patriot, I guess. The British are portrayed very, well, let’s call it one-dimensional. It is one of the major criticisms regarding the movie. There is actually an even worse example, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the movie for the last hour or so. It features a well-known actor, I thought it was Kevin Costner but could not find anything in his filmography. Anyway, it is also set during the Revolutionary War and the main British antagonist is
      a) rich and not very bright
      b) obviously a Lord or something
      c) a sadist
      d) enjoys the company of drummer boys way too much (I guess I do not have to go into detail here)
      And don’t get me started regarding the portrayal of the people whose language I learned first: Germany. If you read my blog for any length of time, you will find out that the trope All Germans are Nazis, which you still get a lot, is one of my pet peeves.
      Darn! Still can’t find that movie, but the stereotype is common enough to also make it into TV Tropes: The Evil Brit.

  2. I agree. I think it is not only harmful to cross-culture encounters to pain one-dimentional characters, it is also bad storytelling. Creating complex and sympathetic antagonists is clever and interesting–and hard to do. I wish it was done more often.
    Thanks for your answer. If you think of the movie let me know!
    I certainly know how ridiculous the „All Germans are Nazis“ bit is, and it’s so tiresome.