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/.

Tesla and the Lamplighter

The wifey and I watched a great short animation the other day. It’s called Tesla and The Lamplighter. It’s a cute non-verbal story about a lamplighter helping to revitalize Tesla’s love of inventing.

While there are an intro voiceover and an outro voiceover no characters speak. With the quality of the animation and the flow of the score, it doesn’t need them to. At fourteen minutes long it’s the perfect length for your midday stretch. Or just long enough to eat a snack.

This short is the first release from CAROUSELpictures. There are two ways to pay them, you may rent it for three bucks. Or buy it for $6.50.  If you feel like the teaser is something you see yourself watching more then once, then, by all means, please buy it. But if you’re only going to watch it once renting is the way to go.

I’m very interested in Vimeo as a platform for independent creators. Vimeo does not compress your video file as much as YouTube does, and with a way to set payments for your work. It shows promise of slipping into the void that will occur when YouTube has to reinvent itself to keep up with current demands of content creators and advertisers. With my current interest in getting my own short film out to the world, I’ll have to look into this more thoroughly. 

Please follow the link below and enjoy a teaser of Tesla and the Lamplighter.

No, You’re Not Doing it Wrong.

A few years ago I had lunch with a coworker who is now a dear friend.  Steampunk and costuming came up in the conversation, and I clearly remember her telling me that she’d been collecting pieces, but couldn’t dress up in steampunk because she didn’t have any goggles yet.

I remember how surprised I was by the concept that you “must” have certain things in order to participate, and we ended up having a great conversation about building our own unique characters who fit into what we wanted to wear or what we had.

 

For people who are new to costuming fitting into an expectation or a certain character profile can be staggering. If you’ve been to a convention you’ve seen that irritating but vocal minority of fans who enjoy picking apart costumes. I’ve overheard things like “Your cape isn’t the right shade of red” and “your hair isn’t blonde enough to be that character.” While most people in the cosplay community are not like that at all, it only takes one jerk to intimidate a new or an aspiring costumer into feeling insecure.

I think one of the coolest things about steampunk, and steampunk costuming is that there is no true right or wrong. Imitating a specific comic or movie means that the character you’re cosplaying has already been designed by someone else.  In steampunk you have the freedom to make your own character, and dress that character however you like.  What is steampunk cannon?  It’s a genre that’s been inspired so by many different authors and artists, and new steampunk material is being written, drawn and filmed every day. Each of these steampunk inspirations is different, and have their own versions of the world.  With that in mind, there’s no way to do it wrong, just an unlimited number of ways to do it your way.

If you want to wear a classy skirt and military jacket, do it. Think of a character who might need to use both. If you want to incorporate something a little more modern into your outfit, do it. You’re from a world that’s more  technologically advanced, or you’re a character who can travel through time or dimensions.  If you want to wear a tutu, do it. A steampunk ballerina would be beautiful.

It’s all about creating a costume that works for YOU, and that you feel comfortable in. In an environment based on fiction, there’s no way your story can be wrong.

 

 

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/

Introducing DreamersEcho Creator Jet Falco

I’ve mentioned before that I am obsessed with steampunk anime and JRPGs, so I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover DreamersEcho, a comic that combines steampunk, anime, and JRPG storytelling. Unfortunately I’m still on a self-inflicted Kickstarter ban(my credit card was starting to get angry at me), but I reached out to creator Jet Falco and was lucky enough to secure an interview. I hope you’ll find it as fascinating as I did!

Welcome to the Steampunk Cavaliers, Jet! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me on Steampunk Cavaliers, Dianna!

Name’s JetFalco. I’m mainly an artist, writer, and musician, though I’ve been known to dabble in the worlds of cosplaying, video production, and most recently, 3D printing! I’ve found a few ways to intertwine some of those random skills into a little adventure comic inspired by steampunk and Japanese role-playing games. I’m pleased to present to you the very first. . .

Can you tell us a bit more about the characters of DreamersEcho?

The characters are where the roots of this adventure take hold. Allow me to introduce you to a young man named Falco, and his two friends, Roz and Wulfi. They’ve been hard at work in hopes of finding a decent job in their hometown, the cliffside port town of Lufe Cape. Falco studied as a shipbuilder’s apprentice while serving the remainder of a work sentence in the mines. Roz and Wulfi are both training to enter the town Guard. All three young adults are gearing up for a big day tomorrow, when the graduation trials will decide if they’re cut out for the occupations they desire.

Falco, Roz, and Wulfi have stuck together since they were kids.

Falco can tend to be a bit forgetful and sleepy. It’s tough work balancing academy studies, serving at the mines, and sleepless nights putting together his airship for the trials. There’s one thing he can’t stand: failure. Since before he can remember, it’s like life is just a setup for one failure after another. At least he has friends to keep him sane.

Roymund Wulfiore, or Wulfi for short, is the son of the Admiral of the Guard, which pretty much guarantees a spot after the trials. His “silver spoon” makes him a pretty carefree guy, and maybe he tends to drink a bit much if the occasion calls for it. He’s known to make rash decisions and can turn into quite the mess from time to time. But he always stands up for his friends. He’s known Falco and Roz since day one of academy.

Roz, short for Rosalyn, has always been a fighter. She finds it hard to trust the men in town. Rumor has it, there’s a reason why she wears belts around her arms instead of the academy-standard training gauntlets. Some say it has a connection to her distrust of men. Regardless, Roz isn’t gonna tell you. She’s about as distant as a girl can get. It doesn’t help that Wulfi has been crushin’ hard on her since they were kids.

Seated at the center of our tale, they’ll soon find that the graduation trials and their futures may be put on hold as they’re forced to embark on an epic adventure. A great deal of supporting and antagonizing characters soon find their way into the cast, each establishing their own deep connections with these three.

What part of the story came to you first?

As a young writer, I fell for the classic formula, “kid wakes up, problem hits, adventure begins,” but it was long overdue for a good, healthy twist! Lost in thought for many nights, I designed characters, plotted out the world, but I hit a wall. I just couldn’t pen a script with a twist I felt was worthy. So I took some classic advice my parents gave me and I slept on it… and wouldn’t ya know, the twist came to me as I woke from a dream. Almost as if this “kid woke up, problem hit hard, adventure began.” The irony never sleeps in my house.

I thought, what if the twist is the world itself? What if the entire thing was just a dream? Of course the first thought that follows is the classic “it was all a dream” trope, sure. Then why not take it a step further? And by further… I mean take it a step back. Confused yet? Well it’s all revealed and explained in the prologue/Chapter Zero, in which existence itself is realized to be nothing more than a dream, and our main guy finally gets his second chance after the biggest failure of a lifetime. I mean that quite literally. The biggest failure of a LIFETIME. You’ll see.

How long did it take you to get from original idea to finished script for Volume 1?

The answer is quite simple: 15 years. That first inkling that birthed DreamersEcho came from a much younger me. I wasn’t always the fancy cosplaying-youtubing-fool JetFalco you see nowadays. The concept stage started in 7th and 8th grade. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I had penciled a rough Chapter 1, got feedback from my peers, and a second draft of that chapter came out 2 years after that! A decade of growing passed, and DE took a backseat for quite some time. But as anyone will tell you, you never forget your first. DE was always in my mind, and I was always jotting down ideas and penciling new characters and designs. The finished script of Volume 1 finally made its way onto my laptop screen in late 2015!

At what point did you decide to give DreamersEcho a soundtrack?

I’ve always been fascinated with creating. I started comics in 2nd grade. Music quickly took hold in middle school. Before I knew it, I found myself becoming somewhat of a singer/songwriter, forging acoustic rock and techno beats like any other weird kid in the nineties/early 2000s. But the eternal tug-of-war with my first love was always there. With the launch of the DE Vol. I Kickstarter, I finally wed the two in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. Had I known that my two loves were courting each other behind my back, I would’ve done this way earlier. LOL.

When I started the volume you see now, I listened to epic orchestral soundtracks to keep my pen hand motivated. It’s truly amazing how the right music can take anything you’re doing and ascend it to new heights, creating a brand new experience in the process. I definitely think DE deserves that same experience. Now I’m working with a couple of friends to produce a fantastic set of tracks to help create an atmosphere to bring your reading experience to the next level.

You can see the preview track on Soundcloud.

Your art style is obviously heavily influenced by JRPGs. What are some of your favourites?

Most adventure-style games in general, always continue to leave an imprint on my creation process. I can’t go without saying the biggest ones out there: Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda have definitely come up in conversations with fans of DE, with the former being a huge influence. Final Fantasy has elements of steampunk: huge airships and weapons with pipes and steam and the like, but I find its execution is quite unique: it manages to create an epic adventure without actually feeling a full-fledged steampunk adventure. The steam influence is there, but it manages to create something completely new from it all… and that’s kind of the direction I’m taking my story. I believe steampunk to be one of the most exciting and extraordinary styles and it’s always an honor to try an incorporate it into my work in any way I can.


A few others that left their mark on my work: Chrono Cross/Chrono Trigger which give kind of a “futuristic-calypso-steam” vibe, WildARMs which is more of a western-steam tone, and a newer one called I am Setsuna, which has one of the most unique art/play styles I’ve seen yet. Just to name a few! It’s always interesting to see the different crossroads of style JRPGs try out. What can I say? I love me some good adventure!
Other than JRPGs, what are some of your biggest artistic influences?

Many have said my style is a great blend between American and anime, and I really can’t argue! It didn’t stop with games. I’ll have a little fun with this and try to name a western influence for every Japanese one:

Ghibli/Miyazaki adventure films hold a spot in my heart. The art of the late great Michael Turner always hits a home run. He created one of my favorite adventure comics of all time, Soulfire. Akira Toriyama is his anime counterpart for me. I’ll always love his character design and stories in things like Chrono Trigger and DragonBall. I grew up in The Matrix generation, so I’m one of those kids who’ll always wonder if life is a computer program (lol), but like those kids, I always find it’s a great source of inspiration. Steins;Gate is an anime I cannot stop thinking about. It’s weaving, almost migraine-inducing plotlines always boggle me and tempt me to make my story as complex! I seem to find myself drawn to comedies as well, but not like you’d expect. A few examples from each side of the world: the American cartoon Clarence has me rofl’ing and the anime Prison School had me in tears. I try to incorporate a little light-hearted joke or two in my stories. A good example of style of comedy I aim for is found in my favorite cartoon of all time, Over the Garden Wall. To top it all off, I’d say Tolkien and the epic scale of Lord of the Rings can never cease to inspire and amaze me. Come to think of it if Clarence and Lord of the Rings had a baby, it would be Over the Garden Wall. So much great inspiration out there!

DreamersEcho is funding on Kickstarter right now. After the Kickstarter, what are your next steps?

Whew, great question. One thing they never tell ya is how draining running a Kickstarter campaign can be! I never thought I would be doing so much work! In fact, just this past weekend, I finished the art for the book cover, and I’m collaborating with an extremely skilled map artist to help me flesh out the world of DreamersEcho once and for all! It’s gonna look superb. Both the color cover and the map will be available as posters for fundraising rewards!

So to answer your question, I have no doubt working on the rewards will take a bit of time. I still meet weekly with my music collaborators on the soundtrack as each song is churned out, and I continue to write new melodies and beats every day. The soundtrack alone is definitely going to be worth the wait.

And after all the Kickstarter odds and ends get wrapped up, I’ll hopefully have Volume 2 started and available to read! I’m really excited for this volume. Volume 1 was just the kick-off; it got things started, the world introduced, and teased the reader enough. Volume 2 is going to be much more exciting, to say the beast. Oop. Did I say beast? Oh, it would seem that I did… Oh well, leave it. It’s the perfect hint at where Volume 2 is headed. 😉

Sounds like an exciting, if exhausting, time lies ahead! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us! How can readers support DreamersEcho?

I am truly honored to have the DreamersEcho: Volume 1 SoundComic featured on Steampunk Cavaliers. People can support DreamersEcho AND get a whole bunch of awesome rewards by backing the Kickstarter campaign. We’re already halfway to funding and thrilled to see the outpouring of support for this project. Thank you so much!

On Duality and Worldbuilding in Steampunk Literature

The steampunk genre is often used to provide social commentary on our present by means of the past. One of the ways it does this is by setting up dynamics of boundary disruption between timelines, cultures, and the self/other. It may sound obscure and theoretical, or—horrors—postmodernist in the extreme. But the disruption of these false binaries is a central and rich source of conflict and tension for the stories.

So let’s look at some examples of steampunk writing that sets up these dualities and transgresses them.

1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust will always inhabit a special place in my heart and my dreams. I love the complex relationship between Tristran and Yvaine. I adore how Gaiman wrote the story almost as a thought experiment, taking on the mindset of a Victorian-era scribe writing English fantasy and drawing inspiration from his environment: a low wall in the middle of the countryside, a shooting star.

The film adaptation takes on a much more distinctly steampunk tone, particularly with the addition of Captain Shakespeare, but both do an excellent job of capturing the tension between our world and another, just beyond our reach.

In Stardust, this boundary is literal: a wall, bordering the magical realm of Faerie. The story is about the consequences of breaching that boundary, for better or worse. First, by Dunstan, resulting in a child who belonged to both worlds. Then by Tristran, not knowing that he was the key to restoring balance. And also, by Yvaine, divided from her home in the sky and her earthly form. They all transgress, and each transgression furthers their ability to overcome the physical and metaphysical barriers that divide them from their heart’s desire.

2. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Next we have a cultural divide in Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, an alternative history of World War II. It isn’t just the philosophical division between the Allied and Axis forces, but a technological one as well between the mechanical and biological, and a social one as Deryn inhabits a gender non-conforming space.

Deryn and Alek must work together to bridge their differences. Both are unable or unwilling to fulfill the roles deemed necessary for them. Both are seeking their own paths. Both discover that the societies of the Darwinists and Clankers and the world they inhabit is far more complex than they were told.

In this series, what initially seems to be starkly differentiated battle lines are blurred, and the focus is centered not on who is right and who is wrong, but their individual ethics and choices.

3. Soulless by Gail Carriger

In this book, the social mores of Victorian society are disrupted and amplified by the addition of a supernatural element. A comedy of manners begins from the first scene, with a rude vampire, a displeased werewolf, and Alexia—soulless and a spinster.

One of the primary delights of the Parasol Protectorate series is how deftly Carriger weaves the rigid social system with the supernatural classes. Alexia is an outlier in her family and society: her preternatural state renders her incompatible with the normal and paranormal, even as she and Lord Maccon realise their fiery compatibility with one another.

4. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Finally, a classic of the steampunk genre, exemplifying the tension between past, present and future while also exploring questions of the human condition. The differentiation between the peaceful Eloi and the terrifying Morlocks.

Wells uses his time traveller to examine theories of what makes us rational, moral creatures. How distinct are our beastly, animal impulses from the pure logic of invention and industry? His experiment takes on the tones of the theories of his day, but give us insight into the hopes and fears manifested by these bursts of technological innovation.

And in this way, Wells bridges the divide between the Victorian era and the digital epoch in which we now live.

We become part of the narrative as we transgress the boundaries of past and present, by turns embracing and rejecting the leaps of innovation that sustain our lived realities. We pick and choose our gizmos and costumes and social codes, disrupting dualities while bonding over tea.

Steampunks look to the past, and see a future.

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/.