Today’s Non-Euclidean Æthercast is a happy rant about my experiences as a teacher when you teach children who are also gamers and cosplayers.
All in all it is a win-win: Pupils are more attentive if they like a teacher and a teacher sharing their hobbies is (as far as my experience goes) more likable and also approachable. Case in point: A number of my pupils have added me to their list of friends on Steam.
And this is Jukedeck I was talking about concerning the background music. (yes, I actually said juckebox in the podcast, I know and noticed it too late…)
The motto of this year’s Steampunk Hands Around The World is „Steampunk – Making Life better“. Later this week, I will be recording a podcast concerning the topic. In preparation for the podcast, I went through the history of this blog, visited websites I used to visit more frequently when I was newer and/or more active in the Steampunk scene, just collecting positive aspects of the scene.
The one thing I want to talk about today, is just the general sense of lighthearted happiness in the scene. Yes, I know, Steampunk also has its share of (bizarrely) Guardians of Purity™(yes, for a made-up thing), Fashion Junkies, and Scene Nazis (i.e. „I get to decide what Steampunk is).
But, when I look around at the vast majority of people I have had the pleasure to meet, from the scene in Barcelona to the Amt for Ætherangelegenheiten to BB Black Dog and other bands, to just the regular event goers:
Most of them are just genuinely happy people or at least manage to generate a genuinely happy atmosphere at the places they congregate. The quality of that happiness is also in keeping with the (for lack of a better term) gentlemanliness of the scene, i.e. it is a very calm and pleasant happiness that makes Steampunk events nice places to just be at. It is vastly different from the more energetic happiness you get at Rock or Metal concerts.
Also, and this is a very personal thing: Steampunk has brought additional happiness to my life. I will touch on that in more detail in the upcoming podcast, but I have to say that through the people I met, the opportunities I got and where those opportunities have led me, the base-happiness of my live has increased.
Several of my most awesome friends are Steampunks or connected to the scene (Anja Bagus and the Amt, Victor Sierra,Alex Jahnke, Admira Ravensdale, basically everyone from Barcelona, Mr and Mrs Vogt, everybody involved in #SteampunkHands and by extension Steampunk Writers around the World just to name a few) and friends make you happy
The books I wrote/participated in writing and the two awards that came from it
The opportunity to talk about Steampunk at Dortmund University
The Steampunk and cosplay people from Vienna (and what came from there, but I will talk about it, when I have the equipment complete)
And I could go on and on
So, Steampunk is in itself and in the context of my life a source of happiness.
So much for this happy rant. I hope Steampunk has or is making you happy, too.
Steampunk Hands Around the World is returning for another installment in February 2017 and this year, the participants will be tackling the subject:
Steampunk: Making Life Better
This is the Press Release, as released by the head organizer and benelovent dictator, the Airship Ambassador:
Steampunk Hands Around the World returns for it’s fourth year, continuing the celebration of the best that the global steampunk community has to offer.
The 2017 theme of the annual month long blogathon is “Making Life Better”. Each day from Wednesday, February 1st through Tuesday the 28th, contributors will share some of their favorite experiences of how steampunk made a difference.
Everyone, steampunks and non-steampunks alike, will be able to share in the information about who and what inspires us to keep exploring, expanding, and enhancing our community every day.
Tying all of these experiences together are people. People who share their ideas, who teach their skills, who step forward to make a difference in large ways and small. Each and every one of us has probably already made life better for someone and some time, and we may not even know it. Together, we create our community, and we bring steampunk to life, in all of its many variations. WE make a difference.
Steampunk Hands Around the World is just one of many opportunities during the year which brings people together, creating new connections and friendships. It is one of those events where we see into the whole of the community, and bring home those things and people who inspire us to do more and be more.
As many different languages are spoken around the world, it will be helpful to use a translation service to read each post in your own native language, such as Google. Language will not be a barrier in communication among us.
If you would like to participate directly, or would like more information, please contact Kevin Steil at Kevin@AirshipAmbassador.com
So, if you like to join, you are obviously very welcome! The more, the merrier!
It has been a while since I did a proper steampunk-related post on the blog, so I am going to remedy the situation right now by doing a little feature on this website:
SteampunkArtifacts came to my attention via my ætherbox, the owner of the website contacted me and inquired about the possibility of having a paid post, which is something I do not do. What I do instead, I just feature commercial sites if the y fit the blog and if I like them, which is the case here.
SteampunkArtifacs, from beautiful Montreal, Canada, offers a wide range of Steampunk accessories from glasses and goggles to jewelry to corsets and hats. It does not offer Steampunk fashion per se but if you are looking for small thongs to steampunk-up your outfit, SteampunkArtifacts is a good place to go.
Danny Sattar, the head of the SteampunkArtifacts team, has this to say about the website and Steampunk in general:
Steampunk caught me up not long after I discovered it, with the rise in awareness and popularity it’s been going through in recent years, I just couldn’t stay away. The costumes, the culture, how could I not? It showed up in the movies I watched, the books I read. I met some people who really got me into it, and who explained to me the world of Neo-Victorian wonder. From there, I was hooked. But, getting into it was hard. Buying things was a nightmare, parts were so hard to find, especially at a reasonable cost. Of course, you can go online to some places, Etsy, for example, but the cost was so high- it wasn’t reasonable when I wanted to build a costume for myself. I just needed to find the parts, the little things that made it just right. The gears, the vests, I couldn’t find anything that was just right.
So, I made my own website, SteampunkArtifacts.com. With it, I figured I could fill the hole in the market and provide people just like me, who had an existing passion, with all their finishing touches and focal points. I wanted so badly to help draw people into it, to make the world more open and accessible for people who were dipping their toes in as well, so to speak. And the key to that was just to offer everything, little things for newbies, bigger, bolder things for people who knew what they were after. And all of it, with the help of my passionate team of misfits, at a good quality. No horror stories of things falling apart, breaking, no nightmares over returns. Good prices, and good products, that could help spread the reach of Steampunk and Victoriana a little farther than before.
And it took a little while to build, a few goggles, some masks and watches were all we had to start with when we first published our website. But now, we have a much wider selection, corsets, hats, all manner of jewelry as well as everything we began with, but with much more variety. Mad Hatter Hat? We have it. Cufflinks? We have several varieties. Do you need some gears to finish off a work of art? We sell those too, in different colors, even. Witch Doctor Masks? We have those, studded ones. Far to many goggles and glasses to list, and the watches and jewelry are to many to describe. We wanted to become the shop for good quality parts to pull the outfit together. To sell some of the most recognizable themes and styles that can settle just right into the wide variety of looks that we know our customers are trying to achieve. Our biggest aim is to sell to the quirky, the odd, the just out of mainstream, and make sure they look just the way they want while being themselves, and to spread the love of steampunk and make it more accessible to anyone who wants to come join a bustling culture of Neo-Victorian fantasy.
Lately I have not managed to update this blog as often as I would like to. Apart from the usual reasons of dayjob and family, another thing has crept up:
I am actually writing a novel, and this time it is pretty serious. This is actually my second attempt at writing a novel. My first one was a steampunk novel, a sizable fragment of which is still on the harddrive of the computer I am writing this blog entry with. Unfortunately, that particular novel is not going anywhere any time fast.
BUT: Luna Press of beautiful Edinburgh in beautiful Scotland will publish an anthology which includes a short story that is based on a sub-plot of that novel and features most of the original main characters. Maybe there will be more in the future.
Here is a teaser for that one, it is called Heirs
Below LZ Württemberg, foothills stretched towards the horizon, slowly merging with Mount Hasan. Here, long ago one of the greatest cities of early mankind had thrived.
Two days had passed since the Prince and his team had left the Württemberg and gone on their errand. All Von Kober and his crew could do was wait, either for a message from the ground or something else. It was the something else that worried him. Too many something elses.
How strangely moods transformed perception, he thought. Down there was a magnificent, exotic, almost alien landscape. He should be sitting there, drawing sketches of the volcano in his diary. Instead, he scanned the ground and the sky. Every boulder a sniper’s hiding place. Every cart a mobile gun. Every speck on the horizon the scout of a fleet, even the goat herders made him nervous.
Von Kober almost hoped for something to happen, to give him a vent for his tension. He fixed his binoculars on yet another point in the sky. After a few moments he adjusted focus and magnification.
“Richnow, possible airship north-north-west, take a look.”
The second navigator swiveled the fixed observation telescope around, it took him a moment to find his mark.
“Confirmed, Herr Kapitän. Airship. French configuration. Heading our way.”
Von Kober hurried up the ladder to the bridge and took the master-tube.
“Attention all stations. We have just spotted a French airship. Power up the turrets but do not extend. Boiler room, I want the Württemberg able to go to full speed faster than ever before, come up with something and do it fast.”
“Herr Kapitän.,” came Richnow’s voice from below. “The airship has just gone on a parallel course to ours. Ah, there’s the name…” he paused.
“It’s the Toulon.”
Every member of the Imperial Zeppelin Corps had heard of her, Captain Baquoy’s vessel. Captain Baquoy, a living legend.
Captain Baquoy, the French Empire’s most highly decorated captain. While on single patrol, ambushed by a pirate squadron over Siam. Came out of the engagement with six kills and not a single casualty on his side. Captain Baquoy, a personal friend of… Oh my God! Albrecht thought. Is that it? Is that what is going on down there?
The project I am working on now, which is already significantly more advanced than the steampunk novel ever was, at just below 38.000 words is a completely different one. For one, I am writing it in German and it is dark fantasy, not steampunk at all.
This is the first sketch of the cover:
The final cover image is also done, alll (c) Nele Diel and all rights reserved by me. No copying, distributing, download etc. in any way shape or form without written permission (except fair use).
Some bullet points concerning the novel:
The main protagonist is a black, female necromancer
The technology level is roughly late bronze age
The necromancers are the good guys
So, if the updates are not coming as often as usual, now you know what I am up to.
From beautiful Hungary, the country of my ancestors (some of them, anyway) comes not only one of my favourite Steampunk bands but also one of my favourite bands in general: Lies of the Machine.
I have been following Lies of the Machine for some time now and was really excited when they announced the release of their first album.
The wait was long but it was well worth it. Apart from a few songs they played before and that I saw them perform live at Steamtropolis in Bochum, there is also brand new material, never hear before, neither by me, nor the universe in general.
Before we come to the playlist, one more thing:
Lies of the Machine are yet another example of how incredibly diverse the music in the Steampunk scene is. Other bands play electro-heavy music with a sSteampunk theme, others psychedelic rock, others punk and Lies of the Machine?
Well, it is actually really hard to say. It is some sort of slightly psychotic punk rock with what I guess could be Hungarian folk elements. In any case it lives up to the title of the albumFreakshow and it was well worth the wait. Feast your ears on that one, a full review will follow.
Here is the complete album, completely officially free of charge for you to listen to:
And here are some more websites for you to visit: Interactive digital booklet Treat yourselves to this one, it is beautiful, weird and just epic!
A few weeks back I had the gentleman, scholar and all-around splendid chap Bonsart Bokel as a guest on my podcast and now we collaborated again. This time, I was a guest on his æthereeb show Radio Retrofuture.
We were talking Steampunk and how skepticism fits in there. The short answer is: Neatly.
For the long answer, check out the video:
Modern education has often been criticized for being a bit out of touch with reality and every country seems to have a different kind of problem when it comes to education, pupil motivation and so on. What I hear from the United States at the moment is that everything is really focused on testing and this does not help the pupils at all because the teachers teach to the test and not for any greater benefit of the pupils.
In Germany the problem is that school curriculum is way behind the times. It takes between 5 and 10 years for a school text book in Germany from first draft to being used in the first lesson (and even longer than that in Bavaria).
British education suffers from a great divide between so called „public schools“ which are not public at all and only rich kids can go there and regular schools which offer a sinificantly lower standard or education.
Also, modern education is largely too focused on book-learning with endless regurgitation of facts and very little hands-on learning and experiences. Additionally, although it is generally accepted that there should be more cross-learning (i.e. geography lessons being tought in a foreign lannguage, IT supporting biology in a research project etc.), relatively little is happening in that direction.
This is where Steampunk comes in.
Look at this piece of art:
This keyboard requires considerabal skills in the following fields:
Engineering/Metalwork and Art. Since it is a fully functional computer keyboard,a project that aims towards creating such a keyboard could naturally cross over into IT.
So, with one fell swoop, you get pubils interested in metalwork, in art, and in IT all in one room working together. I don’t know what it was like in your stool but those three groups of people interested in those three subjects are usually at odds with one another. So this project would actually increase the harmony in a class.
Here is another example (also by Admiral Ravensdale):
This is a far simpler project but one that can be extended, let me split it up for you:
Biology: Find suitable plants via research (possibly guided by the teacher)
School outing: Go into the woods and collect those plants or their seeds
Metalwork or general crafting: Construct biotope
(optional for older pupils) Use a bigger container like a clear pickle jar for the construction of a more complex biotope
The benefit of the Steampunk mindset in education doesn’t end there.
Apart from the fascinating projects you could introduce to the classroom there’s also the philosophy. You could infect the pupils with the steampunk mindset and by that I mean a general sense of optimism and can-do mentality. From personal experience and I think most of you have had similar experiences in school you get told too often that something is not possible something cannot be done or „There is no place for this here. / You are too young.“ Instead, this should be replaced with „We see what we can do.“.
Additionally steampunk projects teach children that modern technology does not have to be all plastic and aluminum. Instead they are shown that computers, iPhones, and other devices can also have casings made out of wood that modern technology does not have to be run of the mill doesn’t have to be all cold and grey and white but that in fact all technology can be transformed into a piece of art.
Furthermore they can be introduced to the concept of upcycling, that you can go and take something that was discarded, especially technology, and from the discard pile create something new and maybe even something better. This way they may actually also learne that you do not have to throw everything away but that our wasteful society we live in now does not have to be, that everything you disard can be used to create something new, something useful, some piece of art and some piece of art which you can also use.
So, Steampunk offers a lot of potential in education, from cross-subject projects with beautiful results to teaching a mindset that is not focused on consumerism and watse of resources but rather recycling and upcycling. We need more Steampunks in education, that’s for sure!
And here comes another facette of Steampunk that I do not think I have featured on the blog before and that I cannot recall having come across before: Steampunk watercolour art!
Case in point, the very talented lady Andalee Motrenec dropped me a message in my Ætherbox, pointing out her artwork. I was very pleasantly surprized for several reasons:
I had not, as I said, encountered Steampunk watercolour art before
The artwork produced by Andalee is genuinely beautiful and speaks of her talent (I shall come back to that later again)
It showcases Steampunk is far from done and over with. There are still new artists joining and adding their works and views to the existing catalogue of Steampunk art.
This is what Andalee has to say about herself, her art and how she got into it:
I began a career in art at a very young age because my mother was a landscape and still life oil painter. I decided to study graphic design and English during my undergraduate and graduate studies at California State University, Fullerton. I worked in graphic design for 8 years and decided to do a Master’s in English with a focus on Victorian and Gothic literature. I am deeply inspired, as a gamer, by anime, Gothic and Victorian literature, detective fiction, steampunk aesthetic and subculture, video games like final fantasy, surrealist art, and futuristic themes. After graduating I decided to return to traditional mediums, my oils and watercolors, and I embarked on an exploration of watercolor specifically. I fell in love with the medium for the first time and decided I wanted to make my career in illustration while drawing on inspiration from my literary studies.
Here are some examples of her work:
The quality of her art has already gotten her some recognition, there will be an exhibitionof her steampunk paintings on July 31st at the RAW Show, YOST Theater venue in Santa Ana, California.
Apart from the hybrid steampunk animals featured above, which were created for a series of ocean characters/animals, Andalee hopes to expand the collection to include technology, characters from novels, and futuristic landscapes.
If you are interested in the event and are in the are, more info is available here:
Today I have the great pleasure of having Bonsart Bokel, host of the Radio Retrofuture Youtube channel (please subscribe!) as my guest on the Non-Euclidean Æthercast.
We cover a lot of ground during the course of the podcast, from Medieval reenactment, to retrofuturistic reenactment, yes this actually works. Bonsart has founded the RAG-TAG: Regiment Anachronistische Grenadiers, check them out. RAG-TAG are actually supposed to be the goons and evil henchmen, but like so many of the „evil guys“, the 501st Legion is the best example, I think, they do some really great stuff, in their case some „Stormtrooper courses“ for children, with nerf guns and other fun-enhancers.
But I am not going to spoil the podcast here, just tease it.