Selkie Cove

Author: Kara Jorgensen
Release: July, 2017
Series: Ingenious Mechanical Devices
Genre: Steampunk | Fantasy | Lovecraftian | Mystery
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 317
Publisher: Fox Collie Publishing

Buy it here: AMAZON

Blurb

Immanuel never liked being the museum’s resident seal expert, until a strange specimen arrived: part human, part seal, and a murder victim. He knows the only people who will believe him are the supernatural agents of Her Majesty’s Interceptors.

But all help comes with a price. To become a member of the Interceptors, Immanuel must first convince his lover, Adam, to help him find the culprit. They have a week to uncover the killer or Immanuel will lose the only chance he has to learn about his own arcane abilities.
Upon arriving at Seolh-wiga Island, Adam and Immanuel quickly discover that what the island lacks in size, it makes up for in mysteries. At the heart of it all is a series of disappearances, murders, and devices connected to the island’s sordid history.

Will Adam and Immanuel earn a place with the Interceptors? Or will they become the island’s next victims?

Selkie Cove is Book Five of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. The other books do not need to be read in order to enjoy this novel. Feel free to jump right in!

Review (Spoilers Ahead)

“Magic is more of an art than a science” Judith Elliott tells Immanuel Winter as he struggles to learn to use magic in a world more suited to technology. Judith, a member of Her Majesty’s Interceptors, is helping Immanuel develop his abilities. And he needs those abilities as Judith involves him in investigating a rather unusual specimen that appears at the museum where he works.

Staring back at him from beneath the bath of embalming liquid was a seal with a not quite human face. For a moment he merely stared at it, unable to grasp how the mismatched pieces fit together so seamlessly. While the body retained the shape and grey spotted fur of a seal, the creature’s face appeared out of place with its sharp cheekbones and Cupid’s bow lips, but what held him wholly were the creature’s eyes. They were wide and
round like the seals he had studied, yet they retained the colored iris of a human.

As Jorgensen mentions in the text, so-called mermaids were popular display items in the Victorian era. Fishermen in Japan and the East Indies had long constructed “hybrids” by stitching the upper bodies of apes onto the bodies of fish. P.T. Barnum obtained one of these creations for one of his exhibits and caused quite a stir when publicizing the item. But Jorgensen’s novels are filled with magic as well as science/technology, and the mermaid, also known as a selkie, Immanuel examines is real.

The Interceptors offer Immanuel a challenge—find out what is happening to the selkies for a chance to join the organization. It is an opportunity that Immanuel cannot pass up as it would not only give him the opportunity to use his education and magical abilities, but also provide a way to support both himself and his lover, Adam Fenice.

Adam has been facing challenges of his own because of their relationship. He was fired from his job as a bookkeeper because of social prejudice over his relationship with Immanuel. This sends him down a path of despair. The trip to Seolh-wiga Island in order to help investigate the death of the selkie is a way for him to regroup and come up with a plan for the future.

But a trip becomes more dangerous when Adam and Immanuel try to join up with a Metropolitan Policeman who is investigating multiple disappearances among the human population of the island. There is more danger than meets the eye in the seemingly idyllic setting. And the two young men may end up becoming the next victims in an ongoing war that lies just beneath the surface of the sea.

I received this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review, but I also purchased it from Amazon because I believe in supporting indy authors. I recommend Selkie Cove to anyone who enjoys neo-Victorian novels, steampunk, magic, Lovecraft, and a good mystery. The other four books in Jorgensen’s series are available and I highly recommend them as well.

About the Author

6Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, and writing speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.  She also blogs intermittently at www.chrispavesic.com and tweets @chrispavesic. She became a Steampunk Cavalier thanks to her involvement in The Darkside Codex blog.

 

My First Steampunk Experience: The Steampunk Symposium with Ash K. Alexander

I’m not a newcomer to steampunk, though nor have I been here from the start. I can remember with clarity what drew me to the community/genre/lifestyle that is steampunk. It was a book. The cover read Soulless and from page one I was hooked on this hungry heroine and the world that Gail Carriger had built from the familiar London streets. I was reminded of Dianna Wynne Jones with a dash of Terry Pratchett, and I was in love. From there, it was only an internet search away from this term I’d never heard before.

Steampunk

Now, as a teen I was a goth, and there is that old standby that steampunk is what happens when goths wear brown but I don’t hold to that logic. steampunk is a community that envelopes aspects of goth, and the two intermingle though do not always overlap. Discovering a community that combined my love of history, costuming and literature was…like coming home. It was like I’d always been searching for this ephemeral thing and here it was, right in front of me.

My roommate and I discovered there were a few steampunk groups nearby (Airships) and went to a couple of meet and greets, but it was not until we went to our first convention that I would say I had my first proper introduction to the community at large. It was the inaugural Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Held in a hotel that had many of recalling moments of The Shining, the atmosphere was actually rather perfect. It was cold enough that all those layers of pseudo-Victorian costume weren’t unbearable.

I attended every panel I could fit into my schedule, though now they all sort of blur together. That first convention was exhausting. I really wasn’t well prepared for it, as my only previous experience with convention going was a few hours here and there, not a full weekend. I remember best sitting in the various lobbies and hallways and just talking to other people. It’d been a long time since I had felt so comfortable talking to strangers. But if there was a single person responsible for pulling me into the community to stay, well, I know exactly who that is and I met her for the first time at that convention.

The amazing Leanna Renee Hieber, who truly changed my life’s trajectory. Fantastically theatrical, Leanna’s reading of her novel reminded me even more of what it was that I loved so much about writing. And with every year I attended the convention, I got to know Leanna a bit better. I got to see her triumphant republication of Strangely Beautiful. She encouraged my writing. I was also incredibly fortunate to connect with Emily P. Bush, author of the Steampunk children’s book hit SteamDuck. I have her to thank for pushing me to take my writing further in her writing workshops.

Thanks to them, I am now part of the team (with Sophia Beaumont) leading the literary track for Steampunk Symposium next year. Something I never could have considered happening. I get to be the person helping newcomers to the steampunk world. I get to be the person pushing writers further. I’ve come such a long way from the day I picked up Soulless. Since the day I stepped into that probably haunted hotel for my first real steampunk convention. I will never regret taking those steps. In steampunk, I found new friends. I found a community to work with. I found the stories of my heart all over again.

About the Author

Ash is an artist, author and cat mother currently residing in the Heartland. She spent her college years tromping about in tombs and museums, though that passion didn’t play out. When not writing or plotting new ways to torment her characters, she can generally be found attempting to garden.

Find Ash at any of the following locations:
https://ashkalexanderwriter.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/ashkalexander
https://www.etsy.com/shop/thedappermenagerie

Steampunk Fact vs Steampunk Fiction

I am a relative newcomer to the world of Steampunk, having recently made the jump from Victorian Magician to Steampunk Author (it’s a long story and one for another day). As part of my initiation I attended the New Zealand Steampunk Festival, the largest such event in the southern hemisphere. While wandering the streets of Oamaru’s Victorian quarter, surrounded by a dashing and eclectically dressed mixture of likeminded souls, I had a certain epiphany. The majority of the costumes I saw, while wonderful, had little similarity with those in the fictional Steampunk worlds we read and write about.

In cosplay, the starting point for the costume is a character from a book, film or comic-book but in Steampunk, this is not the case. I initially wondered if that is because we don’t have enough readily available or easily identifiable Steampunk heroines and heroes to ape. There may be an element of this but I feel the reasons go deeper.

A quick Wikipedia, ahem, I mean Encyclopedia Britannica, search of the word punk divulged the following – One of Punk’s main tenets was a rejection of mainstream, corporate mass culture and its values. So, do Steampunks adhere to the values of Punk and reject the mainstream? I guess we probably do, but not for political reasons like Punk. Also, I dare say that if a fictional Steampunk world ever gained the popularity of Harry Potter our ranks would be swelled by characters from that world, and not necessarily the worse off for it.

One of the initial fashion statements of Punk was the rejection of fussy and elaborate clothing. However, over time the addition of non-functional adornments, safety pins, chains, padlocks and studded leather became common place. Many of the costumes at the Steampunk festival were similarly embellished with clocks, tea-cups, keys, tentacles and myriad cogs, springs and mechanical parts, all of which served no purpose other than in decoration. In fact, much of the decoration rendered the costumes almost completely impractical, not that the Victorian crinoline, corset or bustle were ever designed with comfort or functionality in mind.

I have no doubt that I am less widely read in the Steampunk genre than many of you. However, in the Steampunk stories I have delved into, although corsets, goggles and bowler hats are very much in evidence, the adornments are not. So, what has brought about this disparity between the Steampunk Fact of the costumes we wear and the Steampunk Fiction we read? And does it matter? I have no idea. Please feel free to enlighten me as to your thoughts on the issue below.

About the Author


Gareth Ward, a.k.a. The Great Wardini is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, Police Officer, Evil Magician and Zombie. He basically likes jobs where you get to wear really cool hats – as writer and compere of Napier City’s inaugural Steampunk murder mystery evening he wore a rather splendid bowler.

His first novel ,The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring young adult Steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award.

You can find out more about him at www.garethwardauthor.com

A Steampunk Writer’s Resource: The Victorian City

  • Authors: Judith Flanders
  • Release: July 15, 2014
  • Genre: History
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 544
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

BLURB

The 19th century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of six-and-a-half million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology – railways, street-lighting, and sewers – transformed both the city and the experience of city living, as London expanded in every direction.

Now, Judith Flanders, one of Britain’s foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens’ novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail. From the moment Charles Dickens, the century’s best-loved English novelist and London’s greatest observer, arrived in the city in 1822, he obsessively walked its streets, recording its pleasures, curiosities, and cruelties.

Now, with him, Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses, and entertainment emporia of Dickens’ London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor.

SPOILERS AHEAD

It is not necessary to know about the Victorian Era in order to enjoy the steampunk genre. However, authors of steampunk novels, short stories, or other works of fiction should have a familiarity with the norms and conventions of the culture. This is especially true if their works are set in an alternate version of the 19th Century. The historical details—both large and small—which help bring the story to life for their readers. Having a grasp of the basics of the era will also help a writer create a sharper contrast when he/she develops a story world that differs from the historical record.

For instance, dirigibles/airships are common elements in modern steampunk novels. Such modes of transport went out of favor after the spectacular explosion of the Hindenberg. Yet steampunk novels rarely refer explicitly to the potential of these ships to explode. More often than not, the ship is depicted in everyday use. Steampunk authors domesticate a technology that has proven devastating to human life, and in doing so establish a firm contrast between the real world and their story worlds. Without knowing the history of airships, though, would their incorporation into the steampunk world be considered so subversive?

Flanders’s novel provides intricate detail about life in Victorian England during the span of Charles Dickens’s life. It addresses many of the aspects that modern people take for granted. For example, how did people manage to wake up on time without the benefit of an alarm clock? How did the poor and middle-class citizens navigate the city of London? Which city professions were effected by harsh weather? How and why did the slums flourish? How was the grass cut in the city squares? What did farmers do when they wanted to sell fresh milk in town without any type of refrigeration? What happened to all of the human waste created by the inhabitants? This is a smattering of the type of questions Flanders addresses in her work.

The Victorian City delves into the history of the era and provides a good base for any writer interested in creating a steampunk novel with Victorian undertones. I recommend it as a great place to start your research. Flanders provides a thorough snapshot. Whether discussing the daily life of a laborer, explaining the science behind the poor air/water quality, or presenting the causes and effects of violence/protests in the streets, the author uses enough details to bring the subject to life. The book is available in print, ebook, and audio versions.

Steampunk Cosplay at the 2017 AN Fashion Show

One of the best things about being a Cosplayer is getting to do cool things with amazing people!  A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in the steampunk section of the fashion show at Anime North and I had a blast!

Photo Credit: Kevin Hodgson Photography

These kinds of events are always exciting for both participants and audience members because you get to see the costumes people are most proud of, and the characters they’ve created! Each of the participants wore something that exemplified their passion for their art, and each was the product of hard work and diligent care.

As a general review, the event was well run and well attended. Instructions for where to go, what to do and when to do it were provided in detail well in advance, and upon arrival it was easy to tell that the organizers had put a lot of thought and effort into creating something that would run smoothly. Being part of it was fun, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

The part I’m most excited to share with you is, of course, the costumes! It was really neat to see the variety of costumes the participants wore, and the different ways they each expressed themselves through steampunk.  One participant was wearing a dress inspired by a character from her favourite steampunk novel, and another did a stunning version of Wonder Woman.  Several of the participants incorporated their cultures as well. There was a gentleman who included traditional Indian garments into his outfit and a woman who adorned herself with a variety of Persian prints. Others created their own characters like a wind up doll and a circus ringleader.

Photo Credit: Kevin Hodgson Photography

Each of these costumes was beautiful and unique, and it was really cool to learn about how each one was put together. Some of the cosplayers had made their entire outfits from scratch, and others had created a steampunk character by combining clothing they already had with some unique steampunk touches. There were several people who wore a mixture of items they found pre-made and things they had made themselves. While some of the participants showed some fantastic sewing skills, seeing the costumes at an event like this is a great reminder that you don’t need to be able to sew to create a great steampunk outfit.

The showpiece that wrapped our section was a full steampunk suit made of various tubes and mechanisms. Instead of sewing, this cosplayer had spent months collecting various objects and garments from thrift shops, and then tearing them into parts, painting them, and putting them together into various contraptions on his suit, and he had even created a stunning weapon for his character to carry.  

In addition to meeting these artists and learning about the works they created, it was a treat to see how each person showed off their character and their hard work on stage. The wind up doll danced, the ring leader cracked his whip and the steam suited cosplayer crept around the stage with his gun in hand.  

This was a great event and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to meet more steampunk cosplayers, and learn about their individual takes on this genre.

 

Amanda Groulx is an avid fan of many genres whose favourite way of showing her passion is through cosplay. She loves to spend time working on new pieces with her friends, and is part of an award winning group of costumers. When she’s not participating in Fandoms, Amanda is employed in Broadcasting and enjoys cooking and writing.   You can find Amanda’s cosplay on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/modernmythscosplay/

Monstress: Awakening

Authors: Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Release: July 16, 2016
Series: Monstress
Genre: Steampunk | Horror | Dark Fantasy
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 192
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

I picked up a copy of Monstress because I liked the look of the artwork—a mixture of art-deco-influenced steampunk and manga—and I was intrigued by the storyline. It’s set in an alternate version of Asia in the 1900s where humans, animal-hybrids called Arcancs, and other magical races, inhabit the world. And Neil Gaiman calls it “a beautifully told story of magic and fear”. This was enough to convince me to give it a try.
The writer, Marjorie Liu, is the author of several comics, including X-23, Black Widow, Dark Wolverine, and Astonishing X-Men. She has been nominated for a GLADD Media Award for outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The illustrator, Sana Takeda, worked on X-23 and Ms. Marvel for Marvel Comics.

SPOILERS AHEAD
In a post-war society, Arcanics are hunted and sold into slavery by the Federation of Man. The Cumaea, powerful witch-like humans, dissect the Arcanics for a lillum, a substance that is only produced in their bodies. Maika Halfwolf, a 17 year old Arcanic, survived the war and found that she possessed a powerful magical ability that she does not understand—one that only comes out when she is in mortal danger. She chooses to sell herself into slavery in order to infiltrate a Cumean stronghold, free the other slaves, and gain a measure of revenge against the witches. While enacting her plan, Maika encounters fragments of an ancient and powerful mask that even the witches fear. The mask, it seems, is part of her history and her second contact with it radically changes her life. Now she is on the run from her own people as well as the Cumaea and does not know who to trust, or how to control the power growing inside of her.

Providing everything from the pencil sketches to the colors, Takeda’s artwork is stunning. The mise-en-scène on each page is an absolute marvel. A reader could get lost simply gazing at the intricate backgrounds. It provides a good grounding for the story world that Liu has created.

And the world is complicated. It would be easy to get lost in the story-threads. But Liu does not lead the readers through the story by the hand, although the lectures at the end of certain chapters by Professor Tam Tam, former First Record-Keeper of the Is’Hami Temple and Learned Contemporary of Namron BlackClaw, help to fill in any gaps. (Yes—he’s a magical talking kitty with four tails. Don’t let that throw you.) Instead there is a deliberate progression through scenes and situations that let the story (and the world) unfold slowly. This helps present the world more as a living mythology rather than a cardboard setting where events simply take place. There is a nuance to each scene that leads readers deeper into the mythology and creates a sense that this is a real place with a definite history.

Monstress has a unique structure, epic battles, and an intriguing storyline. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys steampunk, horror, and dark fantasy. Some of the artwork is graphic in nature, so I would recommend caution for the younger crowd. This comic is definitely meant for adults.

Clockwork Cairo: Telling the stories too often ignored by Matthew Bright

Once upon a time, I wrote a story for an anthology of steampunk stories. For the sake of decorum, I won’t name it or go into too much detail, but its theme was essentially multicultural steampunk stories. When it came out I realised I was amongst a table of contents of almost exclusively white writer, and one amongst a set of stories featuring almost exclusively western protagonists having a grand old time exploring exotic new worlds. This did not go unnoticed. I was tacitly part of this, of course; my story didn’t break that mould, and so it was one of the earlier moments in my writing career (an overstatement if ever there was one, but let’s go with it) when I realised how narrow my particular storytelling sights were, and consciously course-corrected.

I’ve always adored steampunk. The combination of Victorian manners and gentility mixed with the wild absurdities of futurism and sci-fi (and more than a hefty dose of the gothic for good measure) has always ticked the boxes to me, and as somebody who marvels at other people’s ingenuity, the wealth of creative wonders (in clothing, in machinery, in art, in fiction) that comes from those involved in the steampunk community never fails to stagger me.

The appeal of Steampunk has always struck me as its ability to be escapist fantasy. More so than any other genre I think steampunk has the capacity to vanish inside it, reinvent yourself as a person out of time, free from the pressures of the modern world. And this is wonderful in many ways, but it can also a dangerous path to tread. After all, the roots of steampunk fiction is in the pastiching of colonialist literature, and there is a fine line between parody and propagating. Which was why, when I seized up on Clockwork Cairo’s theme of Egyptian steampunk, I knew I wanted to take a different approach.

Clockwork Cairo still has a generous handful of the good old steampunk usuals: we’ve got well-heeled detectives chasing artefacts around London; we’ve got airship pirates navigating the treacherous sands; we’ve got adventurers lost amongst the foreign alleyways of cities. But that wasn’t where I started when I began work on Clockwork Cairo.

Where I started was with writers who were telling stories about people more often overlooked. You can find many of them in the book, but if you haven’t encountered them before, run, don’t walk, to the work of Nisi Shawl (Everfair is a spectacular piece of steampunk literature that challenges so many of the preconceptions of what Steampunk is), to K. Tempest Bradford (who is frankly one of the most kickass writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with), to P. Djeli Clark (whose A Dead Djinn In Cairo might have been the finest story to appear on Tor.com last year), to Milton Davis (who at this point is practically synonymous with the steamfunk genre as well as the editor of the brilliant Steamfunk anthology), to the anthologies Steampunk World (edited by Sarah Hans), The Sea Is Ours (edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng) and, and, and… and I am barely touching the surface.

We should always be telling these stories, and people should always be reading them. My writers took the kernel of the idea – the vivid, dramatic world of Egyptian history – and invested it with a wealth of insight, of drama, of tenderness, and of excitement. Steampunk is a genre with worlds upon worlds within it, and it’s been a joy to explore a tiny corner of it. Hopefully you’ll find the same joy in reading it.

**

Clockwork Cairo is out June 1st from Twopenny Books, edited by Matthew Bright and featuring stories by Gail Carriger, P. Djeli Clark, Sarah Caulfield, Jonathan Green, Tiffany Trent, Zan Lee, Chaz Brenchley, David Barnett, Nisi Shawl, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, George Mann, Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine, Matthew Bright, Rod Duncan, Christopher Parvin, M.J. Lyons, Anne Jensen, John Moralee, E. Catherine Tobler and K. Tempest Bradford.

Purchase your copy of Clockwork Cairo today! 

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Perilous Prophecy by Leanna Renee Hieber

Today I am incredibly thrilled to share an exclusive excerpt from Perilous Prophecy, a gaslamp fantasy novel by Leanna Renee Hieber. Leanna’s already been a featured guest on my personal blog, The Dabbler, and I am a huge fan of her work. So without further ado, let’s dig into Perilous Prophecy!

Continue reading “EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Perilous Prophecy by Leanna Renee Hieber”

Fallen London: A Neo-Victorian Steampunk LitRPG

Review by Chris Pavesic

Fallen London
Producer: Failbetter Games
Genre: Steampunk | LitRPG | Lovecraftian | Gothic
Edition: IOS Platform
Download for Free Here: Fallen London

Blurb

“Thirty years ago, London was stolen by bats. Now, Hell is close and immortality is cheap, but the screaming has largely stopped…”
Fallen London, acclaimed literary RPG and winner of The Escapist’s Best Browser Game 2009, has been reimagined for iPhone!

Welcome to a dark and hilarious Victorian-Gothic underworld, where every choice has a consequence from the style of your hat to the price of your soul.

For those who love to read and for those who love to play, Fallen London offers you a unique narrative that evolves with every choice you make. Define your destiny through the stories you embark on and the character you cultivate.

There’s a whole world of opportunity waiting for you beyond the iron bars of New Newgate Prison. Who are you going to be?
Spoilers Ahead

Welcome Delicious Friend!

For me, it is hard not to like a game whose interface (a sort of shadowy top hat-like creature with squinty eyes and fangs) implies it wants to eat you from the first moments in the game.

The story world is a nightmare version of Victorian London, where Lovecraftian-like creatures roam the streets along with urchins, thieves, aristocrats, and other gothic monstrosities. After choosing your character, you begin in New Newgate Prison with rather sparse furnishings—basically a straw mattress–and stone walls dripping with moisture. The quest name—Unjustly Imprisoned!—sets up the fact that you are innocent of the charges that landed you in the cell—or are you? This is Hell, after all. Is anyone located here really innocent?

Not surprisingly, one of the first quests a player needs to complete involves escaping from the prison cell. You then need to find new lodgings, and quickly, because without an address, your character can be arrested and taken back to prison. (This never happened to me, but it is a warning in the game.)

As a player levels up, the type of lodging offering improves. And the types of quests, and NPCs (non-player characters), your character can interact with differs with each choice you make. The top-tier housing reminds me the most of steampunk living, especially the unusual steam-driven gadgets that fill the Brass Embassy (the place where all the best demons vacation). Something has to keep the brass ballroom floor in molten form, after all. But there are steampunk-style lodgings in most levels, including a decommissioned steamer and a cottage near a strange inventor’s observatory.

The lodgings reflect all of the literary genres reflected in the game. Lovecraft’s influence can be found in the Marsh Lair, the Once-Great Marsh House, the Deep Cellars of Old Newgate, and the Dripstone-Snared Third City Sub-Temple. The Abandoned Family Crypt, Attic Room, and Half-Abandoned Mansion are straight out of Gothic-style novels.

The characters that a player interacts with in this world also will seem familiar to those who enjoy steampunk, Lovecraft, and neo-Victorian novels. Depending upon what path a character follows, you will run into versions of Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Sigmund Freud. Jack the Ripper has a new moniker in hell—Jack of Smiles—and there are a few Egyptian Pharaohs and Queen Consorts added into the mix. My favorite so far is a Sherlock Holmes character—who has been driven mad by honey (yes—honey) and sends you on quests to locate kidnapped demons.

The quests are interesting and a player’s choices determine what path his/her character takes. It is a wonderful story that unfolds one segment at a time, and not quite in order. You will not know if a segment you completed a week ago is important to the overall story or not, although the game interface offers tantalizing clues.

Review

Over the last few months there has been a discussion amongst The Steampunk Cavaliers about wanting to see more “punk” in the steampunk aesthetic. In fact, fellow site author Dianna Gunn commented:

“What [steampunk authors] forget are all the other things that make the Victorian era such a fascinating one. They skip the political intrigue and religious conflicts inherent in the time. Their characters create inventions and go on grand adventures that change their lives but rarely seem to impact the world around them.” Click here  to read the rest of the article.

Fallen London’s style of gameplay includes the “punk” elements that some steampunk creations seem to miss. Yes—there are the neo-Victorian era conventions that so many of us enjoy, and yet those are tempered with the facts of living in a society that has literally gone to Hell.

Actual Victorian Era London was an unhealthy place. There were outbreaks of cholera. Ten percent of the population lived below subsistence level and about twenty percent had just enough money to survive, provided that they worked every day with no days off. Homes were overcrowded and heated with coal fires, which destroyed the quality of the air.

Fallen London does not gloss over these issues. A character moves through all levels of society, does quests and learns secrets, and interacts with NPCs in a world that, for all of the fantasy elements, seems very realistic. And the characters can make a real impact on their world; it is not just a simple adventure story. It has depth and hidden levels that continue to grow each time you play. The designers put an impressive amount of detail into the game on all levels and it is one that I recommend playing.

 

Steampunk and Community: Costumes and ComiCon

Last month I had the extreme privilege of joining the Toronto Steampunk Society for a third year at the Metro Toronto ComiCon. Every year I’m reminded of the first time I met my friends in the steampunk community here, and Amanda’s recent post  was so like my own experience, I wanted to share a different kind of origin story.

Once upon a time, there was a young writer who dreamed of flying ships and dashing pirates and a girl in search of her crew.

Once upon a time, there was an aspiring author who attended a literary gathering and discovered a secret society of people who shared her appreciation for the Victorian aesthetic.

Once upon a time, a neophyte novelist saved up her pennies to purchase an ivory lace corset so she could attend a local ball.

Or, rather, dinner at a local pub.

I had published my first book earlier that year, a novella, the first of a series of steampunk adventures. I was a big fan of the genre, and I knew of the Toronto Steampunk Society from a book launch for Adrienne Kress’ Friday Society, but I felt too shy to go to an event.

I worried about what to wear, and whether I could be taken seriously as a steampunk aficionado without a pair of goggles. I worried about having no one to talk to. I worried about a thousand endless quibbles, the curse and blessing of an overactive imagination.

But finally, I did go to the dinner party.

It was just a simple gathering at a local pub. I had obtained a solid, steel-boned corset, but the rest of my outfit was a mishmash of textiles from my own closet, matched with a sturdy pair of boots. But there was such a range of clothing, I was immediately reassured. Some wore beautiful, bespoke dresses with matching jackets and frilly bustles. Others were in jeans, with suit vests over plain t-shirts. Some had goggles, some did not. Some had gears and buckles, some did not. But everyone was friendly, and soon we were deep in conversation about our favourite books and movies.

The point, dear Reader, is that steampunk isn’t about knowing what to wear or how to act, it’s about community. It’s about discovering a passion for the genre and adding your voice to the mix. Sharing ideas and innovations—there’s room for one and all.

This year, I decided to take the Friday off from tabling and enjoy the convention as a guest. I attended a wonderful panel on costuming where Amanda, Jodi and other members shared their advice on crafting a versatile wardrobe, finding inspiration from literature and film (“think Star Wars in sepia tones”), and practical matters such as learning how your costume moves before walking out the door or attempting public transit.

And as I wandered the convention hall, saying hello to friends and fans, picking up a few treats from Artist Alley, I remembered how it all began, with friendly faces in a cheerful pub.

Rebecca Diem is a writer, music lover and nerd. She is the author of the indie steampunk series Tales of the Captain Duke, beginning with The Stowaway Debutante (2014), following the adventures of a defiant young aristocrat who saves a band of airship pirates from certain peril and talks her way into joining their crew. Her favourite feature of steampunk is its ability to disrupt and re-imagine both history and the future. She currently lives in Toronto, and is on a never-ending quest to find the perfect café and writing spot. You can find her at https://rebeccadiem.com/.