• Category Archives Steampunk
  • Oh Great Old Ones, I am writing a Novel!

    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.”

    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:

    ObsidianSketchSmall

    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.


  • FREAKSHOW – Lies of the Machine’s First Album Is Here! LISTEN!

    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!

    Bandcamp

    Facebook

    Instagram

     


  • Radio Retrofuture – Steampunk and Skepticism

    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:


  • The Steampunk Mindset and Teaching – It works!

    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:

    Steampunk Keyboard by Admiral Ravensdale
    Steampunk Keyboard by Admiral Ravensdale

     

    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):

    Light-bulb biotope
    Light-bulb self-sustaining biotope

    This is a far simpler project but one that can be extended, let me split it up for you:

     

    1. Biology: Find suitable plants via research (possibly guided by the teacher)
    2. School outing: Go into the woods and collect those plants or their seeds
    3. Metalwork or general crafting: Construct biotope
    4. (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!


  • Andalee Motrenec’s Steampunk Watercolour Art

    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:

    1. I had not, as I said, encountered Steampunk watercolour art before
    2. The artwork produced by Andalee is genuinely beautiful and speaks of her talent (I shall come back to that later again)
    3. 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:

     

    dolphin

    Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 1.46.40 PM

    SteamOcto

    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:

    Art Show Event Info:

    Tickets:

    And more about Andalee Motrenec and her projects:


  • Non-Euclidean Æthercast #38 – A Chat with Bonsart Bokel of Radio Retrofuture

    10646814_1150823054941496_2417200938907520887_n

    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.

    Before I forget, check out here for interview on the Fedora Chronicles with Bonsart that gets mentioned on a number of occasions during our chat.

    And just some shameless promotion:

    Bonsart and I are both at Patreon and would of course love some support, so, if you have some change to spare:

    Metapunk on Patreon

    Radio Retrofuture on Patreon

     


  • Vintage Gothic Steampunk Vibes of Alice Underground

    From sunny Los Angeles comes another musical jewel from the murky borderlands of vintage and Steampunk, Alice Underground, and in best Steampunk fashion, they style themselves as a „time-travelling caravan“.

    Please feast your eyes and ears on Superman:


    Alice Underground – „Superman“ von cyberprvideo

    And this is how the band describes itself:

    Alice Underground is a time traveling caravan to an anachronistic era set in a locale that’s both familiar and fantastical. For the five members of the LA-based group, however, this has been a journey by happenstance. What was a one-off show now has the quintet chasing mythical characters and architecting a swamp cabaret aesthetic.

    Five years after its fateful first show, the LA-based quintet now issues a stunning debut, Cambria Sessions. An album bathed in the blue hues of broken dreams, noir romance, and Golden Age Of Hollywood opulence.

    Alice Underground whisks listeners and concertgoers away to an elegant underbelly teeming with deviant jazz, punk rock vigor, vaudevillian theatrics, and sensual emotionality. The group’s oeuvre varies between originals that feel like they were plucked from an American Songbook from a Tim Burton-themed time capsule, and jazz standards reimagined to showcase Alice Underground’s gift for conjuring longing and lasciviousness. The group counts as influences David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Trent Reznor, and Billie Holiday. Fittingly, Alice Underground has been described as “gypsy jazz with a proto-punk edge.”

    The quintet’s dark seductiveness, gothic glamour, and mythological imagery of the character Alice as a conceptual muse have endeared it to fanatics of steampunk, fantasy, and cosplay. Live highlights for the band include appearing at Los Angeles County Museum Of Art’s New Year’s event Golden Stag, hosted at the famous Los Angeles Park Plaza Hotel, and performing at the closing ceremonies for the Anime Expo in Los Angeles. There the group played originals, and backed cult artist Yoko Takahashi, singer of the theme song for the popular animated Japanese television series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Alice Underground is Tash Cox vocals, bass, piano; Sasha Travis, vocals; Scott Landes, guitar, piano; Gordon Bash, standup bass, piano, guitar, vocals; and Steve Kefalas, drums, percussion. The band members boast eclectic and impressive resumes. Lead vocalist Tash Cox formerly sang with The Beta Machine, which included members of A Perfect Circle and Eagles of Death Metal. Tash has also sung in many operas, Neely Bruce’s, “Circular 14: The Apotheosis of Aristides” being her favorite. Scott Landes has played with Collide, Android Lust, I, Parasite, and ¡BASH!, among others. Steve Kefalas has also been a member of Android Lust, I, Parasite, and ¡BASH!. Gordon Bash is an active jazz and rock musician, that has appeared on America’s Got Talent playing with William Close. He heads up the punk/rockabilly band ¡BASH!, and is also the bassist for the popular ska band Save Ferris. Sasha Travis is a singer, producer, director, and all-around artist. She has directed and produced for the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball, and Golden Stag events, written and directed for the Astra Dance Theater, and been a long time co-collaborator at Sypher Arts Studio.

    The Cambria Sessions is threaded with a wildly fishtailing story of two girls moving to Hollywood to make their dreams come true. Detailing the narrative are the intertwined voices of Tash and Sasha. The story is rife with surrealism and mythology, with subtle allusions to Joseph Campbell. In the end, the protagonists flee Hollywood for the safe haven of Cambria, the beautiful wine country expanse in Northern California.

    The album’s lead off single is the slinky “Superman.” The dizzying track swings mightily with whimsically zigzagging melodic passages and a seductive urgency oozing from voices of Tash and Sasha. The song intimates a love triangle. One of the girls is far too preoccupied with a male lover whose bravado has gotten him into a dicey situation. “It’s about how in love, we either put someone else on a pedestal, or we struggle with being put on a pedestal,” Tash explains. “I don’t need a superman—I just want to love as a human being.” The video for “Superman” is a collaboration with fashion photographer turned director Jean Renard It’s a feast for the senses boasting a cross section of LA’s finest dancers, eye-popping visual technology, and steamy film noir imaging.

    Alice Underground_1

    Other standouts on the Cambria Sessions include a nostalgic and impressionistic version of the jazz standard “Fly Me To The Moon” and, the sultry and dark, “LA Is Burning.” Traditionally, the evergreen “Fly Me To The Moon” is a swinging track that soars with optimism. Alice Underground’s rendition is reflective and romantic, evoking the moment right before dreams slip away. Gordon says: “We went for that ‘hero with her hair flying in the wind’ feel. It’s right before the girls escape for Cambria. It’s very Thelma & Louise.” The city smolders, and the torch ballad “LA Is Burning” wafts in from the rubble. “There is a lot of pain in that one,” Scott shares. Tasha adds: “It evokes that sentiment of feeling alone in a faraway place, engulfed by loneliness.”

    The odyssey to Alice Underground began in the goth/industrial/metal scene. Outside of Alice Underground, Tash, Scott, and Gordon play with the group Mankind Is Obsolete. While on tour with the group Android Lust, they befriended the New York-based band’s drummer, Steve. When Steve relocated to Los Angeles, he joined the trio. Sasha came into the fold when Tash heard her softly singing during an arts and crafts project. The two instantly had a deep connection. “We are both from Texas, we are preacher’s kids, our names rhyme, and we’re both Scorpios,” Sasha explains. “We were meant to be soul sisters.”

    Alice Underground also has an extended family of thinkers, artists, and dancers. Shawn Strider, the creative director of the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball and producer of the Golden Stag events, helped forge the concept of Alice Underground and continues to contribute lyrics and story ideas. Others in the close circle include saxophonist Joe Berry (M83, Taylor Swift, Save Ferris), cellist Eru Matsumoto (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Demi Lovato), and hotshot Nashville guitarist Jordan Roepke (Restless Road).

    Every myth has a valuable story within the narrative, and in exploring the fantastical realm of Alice Underground, the band members have been artistically and personally transformed. “There have been so many amazing moments with this band that truly feels like family,” Tash marvels. “It’s changed my life—these people brought music back in my life,” Sasha confides. Gordon adds: “I love what we have done. We’ve created something indefinable.” Steve concludes: “We got thrown into the fire with these jazz shows, and I’m so proud we found a voice and means of artistic expression within a genre many of us didn’t know before. “

    I will follow up on this with an interview of the band which will yield some more information, but this is for another day.


  • Book Feature: Cog and the Steel Tower – Steampunk for Young Readers

    Another wonderful thing came in via the Ætherbox, proving once more Steampunk is alive and well, the creativity unbroken. Even better, here comes a novel aimed at younger readers, so this is an ideal way to introduce youngsters to the worlds Steampunk creates and spend their time reading instead of, you know, summoning Elder Gods or something. Right, maybe what happens in my family does not happen that frequently in other families, never mind…

    The Book I am talking about is of course Cog and the Steel Tower:

    Cog and the Steel Tower

     

    A little about the book in the author’s own words:

    Cog and the Steel Tower is a middle-grade novel set in an alternate-world steampunk setting. I wrote it as both something for my daughter to enjoy and to have fun with the steampunk setting. I really enjoyed taking these old technologies and outdated concepts like aether and alchemy and projecting a society in which they thrive. I have a particular fascination with airships and one of them, the GRD Birkenhead, plays an important role in the story.

    Blurb:

    Thirteen-year-old Cog loved getting her hands greasy in her Uncle’s workshop and building the occasional mud-cannon before the return of her mother knocked her life completely off its rails. Before long she’s stowing away on a royal airship and tricking her way into a dream apprenticeship with the Queen’s master engineer by pretending to be a boy. But her situation takes a dangerous turn when she discovers a plot to assassinate the Queen and throw the kingdom into war.

    If she can keep her identity a secret despite her best friend developing a crush on her alter ego, unravel the deadly conspiracy, and keep the demanding master engineer happy, then maybe she can have the future she’s always wanted. Keeping hidden identities and saving kingdoms may not be the same as fixing a steam wagon or an auto-mechanical potion mixer, but Cog has a set of precision screwdrivers and she isn’t afraid to use them.

    Follow Cog’s rollicking adventure as she uses her wits and ingenuity to find friendship, trust, and justice in a colorful but sometimes unforgiving steampunk world full of mechanical mayhem.

     

    About the Author:

    W.E. Larson was born in Manhattan — the Kansas one — and raised mostly in Topeka Kansas. He went to college in San Antonio at Trinity University where he earned a degree in Physics. After the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider, he decided to seek his fortune with software engineering instead. He has worked as a software engineer at a variety of companies, carefully avoiding ones that have a big IPO that makes all the employees rich.

    An interest in programming started back in middle school where he wasted time in computer lab writing video games on one of the school’s Apple IIe, learning a lot more than the class was teaching. He still has the Atari 400 he parents got him back then. With that kind of nerd potential he naturally gravitated to reading lots of science fiction and fantasy.

    Eventually, he gained an interest in writing his own fantastical tales and has written three fantasy novels. Cog and the Steel Tower is the first one ready for public consumption.

    Currently, he lives in the Kansas City metro with his wife, two kids, and three dogs. Normally he goes by Erik Larson, but had to use W.E. Larson since there is already a well-known author named Erik Larson.

     

    More about W.E. Larson and Cog an dthe Steel Tower on the web:

    The Author’s website

    Cog and the Steel Tower on Goodreads

    and the book on Amazon

     

    To kindle your interest, here is an excerpt of the novel:

    “I reckon it’s one hundred ten yards. What do you think?” Cog handed her spyglass over to Winifred.

    Winifred slithered on her stomach to get a better view from the bushes before putting the long brass tube to her eye. “One hundred thirty.”

    “I’ll need to make some adjustments.” Cog scrambled over to the device they had lugged all the way to Farmer Hemsworth’s fields. It looked like a small cannon with brass and copper tubing entwined around it. She checked the pressure gauge and turned the dial. “Okay, I think that’ll do.”

    Together, they propped up the cannon just the right amount with an old log. Winifred took another look through the spyglass. “We need to turn it more to the right.”

    Cog rotated it until Winifred held up her hand. “Perfect!”

    “Powering up.” Cog flipped a switch near the base. Sparks played along the copper coiled around the barrel, and the brass tubing hissed like a bucket of angry snakes. The pressure gauge swung ominously into the red.

    Winifred took a few steps back. “Are you sure this won’t blow up?”

    “Sure, I’m sure,” Cog said, grinning. “We’ll only have one shot, though.”

    “I’ll make sure the target is still there.” Winifred returned to the bushes for another look. “We have a problem.”

    “What?”

    “See for yourself.” Winifred held out the spyglass, and Cog lowered herself to look. The ground was damp and slick, but she hardly worried about getting her workshop overalls dirty.

    Cog put the instrument to her eye. The target, Polly, hadn’t moved from the bench in Mrs. Hemsworth’s rose garden. Polly was fifteen, two years older than Cog, and very pretty. She delighted in teasing Cog about her cropped hair, workshop clothes, and greasy hands. As the unofficial leader of the girls in the village, Polly also made sure that nobody else treated Cog too nicely. Only Winifred broke ranks.

    Winifred’s problem was immediately obvious: a boy had joined Polly. Not just any boy either, it was Lawrence Hemsworth. With his good looks and his family’s wealth, he was the most popular boy in the village. Worse yet, Lawrence was only one of a couple of boys who didn’t take Polly’s lead in tormenting Cog.

    “You still want to do this?” Winifred asked.

    Cog watched him sit next to Polly. They looked good together—Lawrence with his crisp, white shirt and Polly in a flattering, light blue dress. Lawrence leaned in and they met lips, closing their eyes.

    “Definitely!” If Lawrence insisted on kissing pretty, precious Polly… well, he’d have to face the consequences.

    “Who gets the spyglass to watch?” Winifred asked.

    “Rock, paper, scissors.”

    They pounded their fists into their hands and counted. “One… Two… Three… Go!”

    Cog kept her hand in a closed fist, but Winifred held hers open. “Paper covers rock,” she said, grinning.

    “Lucky.” Cog handed her the spyglass. “Ready?”

    “I have them in sight,” Winifred reported.

    “Firing!” Cog flipped a switch and the machine made a crackling sound followed by a tremendous phoomp! A ball shot out of the barrel—a ball of the slimiest, smelliest mud Planter’s Creek had to offer. Cog had designed the mud electro-cannon to apply a powerful electrostatic charge to the moisture that kept the slimy mass intact as it hurtled over the field.

    Cog settled next to her friend to peek out from the bushes. Even at this distance, she could see that Lawrence had slipped his arm around Polly’s shoulders. Polly adjusted herself to face him. They moved toward each other again and… splat!

    “Direct hit!” Winifred shouted before exploding into giggles. She clutched her sides and rolled into a ball, laughing so hard her eyes watered.

    Cog snatched the spyglass. Mud covered Polly. It was in her hair, on her dress, and smeared across her face where she’d tried to wipe it off. She stormed this way and that, searching behind rose bushes. Cog watched her shove some of the rose canes aside only to quickly clutch her hand, apparently too angry to remember thorns.

    Lawrence hadn’t been spared—muddy spots now marred his shirt and face. Unlike Polly though, he merely looked befuddled. Maybe he’d noticed the mud had fallen from the sky.

    Polly turned and her mud-soaked hair swung around to smack her across the face. Cog dissolved into giggles and soon joined Winifred, rolling on the ground and scarcely able to breathe.

    By the time they recovered, Cog’s stomach hurt, and she had to wipe tears from her face. “That should teach Polly to stop teasing me about my hair.”

    “Only if she figures out we were behind it,” Winifred said as she stood and made a futile effort at brushing off her dress.

    “She knows,” Cog reassured her. Who else would Polly suspect of making mud fall from the sky? “Help me get this back to the workshop.”

    With Winifred holding up one end and Cog the other, they began their trek into the village. Cog hoped to get her invention back and at least partly disassembled before Papa returned. He wouldn’t consider a mud electro-cannon a good use of his stock of parts.

    They took a path along a long wind-break of trees to Papa’s workshop. Cog peeked in a window of the white-washed building. “C’mon, Winny, it’s clear.”

    As always, the shop was tidy with racks of tools on the walls and shelves filled with well-organized bins of parts and fasteners. Two large tables took up the rest of the space, one covered with parts and the other empty and clean. They shuffled the device onto the empty table, and Cog immediately started loosening bolts.

    Winifred cleared a little space among the steam wagon parts on the other table and hopped up to sit, swinging her dirty feet. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Polly that mad before.”

    “You made a perfect call on the range,” Cog said, grinning back.

    “Too bad we got Lawrence, too.”

    “He’ll probably be laughing about it by tomorrow,” Cog said. Maybe she could have waited for Polly to be alone, but that would’ve risked missing the chance.

    “Getting the mud from the creek made me think,” Winifred said. “If we made a raft, maybe—”

    Polly burst into the shop like an unwelcome locomotive, her face still smeared and her hair in dirty strings. She jabbed a finger toward Cog. “You!”

    “What?”

    Polly tugged on a particularly muddy part of her dress. “Lawrence said this mud came out of the clear, blue sky.”

    “That’s odd,” Winifred remarked, looking as innocent as a kitten.

    “There’s only one person who could make that happen,” Polly turned her sharp gaze toward the disassembled mud-cannon. “Is that what did it?”

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Cog tried to hold back a guilty grin.

    “Oh yes, you do, you and your stupid gizmos.” Her lips twisted in anger. “Nobody is ever going to hire a girl to fix machines. All this playing around with junk is a waste of time. Your uncle just wishes he had a son instead of some freak girl his sister didn’t want.”

    “Shut up!” Winifred yelled, jumping down from the table.

    “Don’t think I’ve forgotten the freak’s mousy accomplice.” Polly turned to Winifred. “You’ll both pay for—”

    The workshop door’s bell jingled, and Papa came inside. He looked pale.

    Polly turned toward him, pointing to her dress. “Look at what your niece did to—”

    He waved vaguely toward the door. “You can come back and play with Cog later, Polly.”

    “But she—”

    “Later.”

    “Hmmmph…” Polly shot one last scathing glare toward Cog before flouncing out the door.

    She vanished from Cog’s mind as quickly as she had from the workshop. What had Papa so upset?

    “Is it Gran?” Cog asked. Her grandmother had taken ill a couple of years ago and still hadn’t recovered.

    Papa shook his head. “No. It’s… well… she’s come back.”

    “Come back? Who?”

    “Your—” He turned to Winifred. “I need to talk with Cog, Winny. Maybe you two—”

    “Albert, that’s where you went off to,” a woman’s voice came from behind him. “Is this the old workshop? You must have expanded it.”

    “Yes, business has been good.” He stepped to the side as a woman slid past him.

    She had the same chestnut hair as Cog, though hers trailed down her back in lustrous curls instead of being cropped short. But the eyes made Cog freeze to the spot. They looked exactly the same as her own: large and dark-brown in color. In her well-tailored lavender dress, the woman looked beautiful, elegant, and completely out of place standing next to a rack of tools.

    “I was just telling—” Papa started.

    “Oh, this must be Corinna,” the woman cooed, sweeping over to Winifred. Her gaze took in Winny’s dirty dress, scabbed knees, and filthy feet. “What a beautiful young lady you’ve grown into.”

    Winifred turned her gaze back and forth, her eyes wide. “Um…”

    “That’s not Corinna,” Papa said.

    “I should go,” Winifred whispered. She crept to the door, shooting Cog a glance that clearly said she’d want a full report.

    The woman turned back to Papa, “Where is she?” She peered around the room before settling on Cog and smiling. “Is this your son, Albert? He looks just like you. You never said anything about—”

    “Abigail,” Papa said, putting a hand on Cog’s shoulder, “this is Corinna.”

    “Corinna?” Her mouth fell open.

    “You’re Papa’s sister?” Cog supposed her mouth must be hanging open too. She’d never suspected the teenage girl that gave her up would be the elegant woman in front of her.

    Abigail regained her composure and opened her arms. “Come here, My Little Princess.”

    Cog took a few unsure steps before holding up her grimy hands. “You probably don’t want me to—”

    Abigail frowned at the dirty fingers. “Perhaps you should keep those behind your back this once.” She closed the distance as Cog kept her hands out of the way. Abigail gingerly pulled her into a loose hug.

    What should meeting your mother for the first time feel like? Her mind had jammed from trying to be happy, angry, curious, nervous, and a hundred other emotions all at once.

    And now, sidle over to Amazon and grab a copy.


  • Professor Elemental – I’m British (redux) – The Brexit Version

    The most venerable Professor Elemental, adventurer in time and space, wearer of fighting  and time travel trousers, gentleman rhymer and overall excellent chap has updated „I’m British“ (From his 2012 album Father of Invention) in light of current events. I think the updated cover of the track speaks volumes regarding the side Professor Elemental stands on:

     

    Professor-Elemental-Im-British

     

    The lyrics reflect Professor Elemental’s feelings on the whole Brexit disaster and he puts them in words which are truely his own. Noone else could have rhymed biting, harsh criticism of a stupid decision and made fun of some repulsive characters in politics (even when compared to other politicians) so eloquently.
    I particularly loved his heartfelt apology for the absolute waste of DNA, Nigel Farage, at the end and the fact he apologized for Boris Johnson and Johnson’s hair seperately.

    The good Professor will also donate all proceeds of the sale of this track to Refugee Action.

     

    So please, for the love of great music, steampunk and humanity, get yourself a copy of this track, and let the Brexit farttwoodles know what you think of them.

    Image © Bob Molesworth, fair use
    
    

  • Steampunk is Self-Resurrecting (a happy rant)

    This blog started out entirely dedicated to Steampunk in July 2008. It became pretty popular in the Steampunk scene and stayed on topic up until October 2015 when I moved the blog to it’s new domain, meta-punk.com. The last dedicated Steampunk post on this blog is six weeks in the past, which is also indicative of my waning interest in the subject. Me getting bored with Steampunk and wanting to move on is not a new phenomenon to me. It has happened in the past and each time, something came along to rekindle my interest in the scene and the subject.
    As it turns out, this time will be no different.

    Something is brewing.
    A well-known figure in the Dutch scene, Bonsart will have me as a guest in an upcoming Google Hangout in August and he in turn will be a guest on the Non-Euclidean Æthercast. The hangout will be on Radio Retrofuture Youtube Channel later.

    Here is a taste of the channel:

    The topic of the hangout I will be participating in will be somewhere in the vicinity of Steampunk and scepticism, which is of course near and dear to my heart, but I digress. On with self-resurrection:

    Once more, as I said, Steampunk has managed to move into my main field of interest again and once again for a most splendid reason: Outreach by a fellow Steampunk and another prominent European figure, no less. This is something I love dearly about the scene: For all its tendencies towards costume-arms-races and Steampunk being highjacked for monetary reasons lately (one particular nasty example is an event which used to be a Renaissance Faire and they just turned it into a Steampunk Faire now, all for the sake of attracting more visitors and thus, make cash), there is still this wonderful spirit of community. Steampunks still reach out to one another, do things together and, as in the upcoming case, discuss topics of general interest from a Steampunk perspective.

    Also: The topics are becoming broader and more encompassing. At least, that is my impression. Steampunk has eveolved into the kind of subculture which lends itself to viewing things in life through its perspective. Very much like you can extrapolate a worldview and philosophy from Punk, Goth and to a lesser degree Heavy Metal, you can do this with Steampunk as well.

    This is also probably one of the reasons Steampunk is so enduring despite the fact it being a relatively small scene compared to the other three I mentioned. It lends a unique perspective to life, the universe and everything. From its inception, Steampunk came with a world-view, a very positive world-view rooted in the Belle Epoque. Thus, it had a destinct advantage over mainly music-driven subclutiures (like the techno scen, for example) from the get-go. Also, Steampunk is attractive to a far greater age-range and as such has access to a wider range of life-experiences and thus possible ideas based on experiences influencing it. Consequently, there is a greater range of ideas despite the relatively small audience.

    This attractiveness to people of all ages, the unique outlook on life and the overall very positive message of Steampunk will keep it going for some time, I think. There will still be new ideas, new topics of discussion and more influence into general culture and thus, even if it may be waning at times, Steampunk will remain self-rsurrecting, for me personally and for the subculture and scene in general.