On Writing Steampunk and Accessibility

captaindukeSteampunk literature is a disruption of the historical narrative. When I’m creating a universe for my characters, I treat history like the icing on the cake. Or, sometimes, the rosettes. I am creating a world with airships, sky pirates, auto-baubles and appropriated Victorian aesthetics. I pick and choose which parts I borrow from our history and which parts to embellish.

So, I chose to base the Tales of the Captain Duke on a society where advancements in gender equality and intersectionality happened far earlier than those in our timeline, but I also wanted to ensure that the struggle for those achievements was not erased.

Enter Professor Georgina Jameson Sewell.

Professor Sewell* is the mad genius inventor of the story, a mentor to the protagonist’s brother, a character whose alliances are yet unknown but whose passion for her work is readily apparent. She is also missing a leg.

In a steampunk universe, particularly one with pirates, a missing leg is no big issue. There’s the classic image of the peg leg to work with, for one. The idea that a lost eye or limb is a minor setback, as long as you find a way to adapt and fight again. Pirates are rather inclusive when you think about it.

Professor Sewell takes that one step further, to change the very society in which she lives. A childhood accident led to her disability. However, thanks to her intelligence and perseverance, she never learned to see barriers—only possibilities yet to be realised. Her parents gave her books and encouraged her correspondence with the authors when the source material was inadequate. They supported her as she began to invent her own creations, including her magnificent clockwork leg.

Professor Sewell learned that she could shape her environment to suit her needs. That accessibility was a matter of challenging and overcoming systemic barriers. And why stop there?

In our universe, the social model of disability was coined in 1983 by the British academic Mike Oliver, and expanded over time by researchers and advocates around the world into our modern conception of the ways that society is structured to impede the differently-abled.

It can be something as simple as changing physical structures to include ramps, for wheelchair users. Or acknowledging the different but equally valid needs of a person with an anxiety disorder. Including translators or sign language interpreters for people who communicate in a different language. These are all ways in which we make our society more accessible and inclusive.

So, in a steampunk setting, what does accessibility look like?

In the Tales of the Captain Duke, Professor Sewell is the morally-ambiguous Tony Stark figure. She becomes one of the first students at Lovelace University, a school founded by Mary Somerville and funded by the heirs of Ada Lovelace. She pioneers the field of biomechanical engineering with her incredible prosthetics and reshapes the Victorian understanding of disability. The classic image of the crippled, impoverished veteran pushing himself on a scooter is undone, reshaped into a foreman supervising work at a factory on eight-foot legs.  The Professor disrupts society with her inventions, and challenges her peers’ understanding of the possible.

This idea of possibility is also brought into play when she is challenged anew with helping a friend and ally injured in battle. Here, the wound is not only physical, but psychological as well. Professor Sewell learns to treat not just the mechanical impairments, but also those of the mind.

I won’t spoil anything as to how she achieves this end, but let us just say that overcoming barriers is a talent of hers.

As an author, I feel that it is important to critically examine the social structures we reproduce in our writing. Everything we put into our books, we bear responsibility for. Those choices are ours, good and bad, and we must take ownership of them, even as we grow and improve and write better stories. It’s a choice, to include characters who are different than us. To give them complexity and dimension. To dispute stereotypes and tokenistic representation.

Steampunk is particularly suited to encompass these kinds of decisions. The broader steampunk community has founded itself on inclusion, diversity and body positivity. But these are choices that we still must work to uphold, and do the difficult labour of ensuring that our work and our communities remain open to all.

Our work is not yet done. But the possibilities are endless.

–Rebecca Diem

*I would like to thank Brooklyn Marx, and acknowledge the work she did in reading over the early drafts of A Gentleman and a Scholar (Tales of the Captain Duke #3) for its accessibility content.

 

Author Rebecca DiemRebecca 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/.

 

Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales

Review PhotoGaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales

Release: May 29, 2016
Genre: Steampunk | Fantasy | Humor
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 356
Publisher: eSpec Books

Buy it here: AMAZON

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 4.44.12 PMBlurb

Once Upon a Time, ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic…classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma’s knee.

Oh yes, tales have been told…but never quite like these. Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam.

With tales by James Chambers, Christine Norris, Bernie Mojzes, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Jeff Young, Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin, Elaine Corvidae, David Lee Summers, Kelly A. Harmon, Jonah Knight, Diana Bastine, and Jody Lynn Nye.

Review

As a fan of fairy tales, fantasy, and steampunk, this collection grabbed my attention immediately. The first story, “In Wolf’s Clothing,” is a perfect play on the words in the title and reimagines the “Little Red Riding Hood” story. “When Pigs Fly” is the story of the “Three Little Pigs,” only now the “pigs” are captains of airships and the “wolves” are pirate vessels attacking the fleet. There are steampunk versions of “Jack the Giant Killer,” “Rapunzel,” and even “Puss in Boots” with clever steampunk inspired titles. “The Steamy Tale of Cinderella” might sound like an adults-only version of the tale until you remember the theme of the collection.

Since space is limited, I have decided to review only one short story in the collection. For a spoiler-free review—if you love any of these three genres, log on to your favorite bookstore and emulate Philip J. Fry from episode 3, season 6 of Futurama. *

Spoiler’s Ahead

It was hard to choose a favorite story in this collection, but I have enjoyed Jody Lynn Nye’s novels for years, so her story “The Perfect Shoes” narrowly edged out the others for the review. I also happen to feel that it is a good representation of the mixture of genres in the collection.

Jody Lynn Nye has written many humorous fantasy series, and has collaborated with Robert Asprin and Piers Anthony, so I started reading “The Perfect Shoes” expecting something clever and light, with perhaps a few puns thrown in for good measure. What I found was something clever and dark, sobering and uplifting, and all-together unsettling. It is a short story that I found myself thinking about long after I read it during quiet, reflective moments. It made an impact.

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From Wikipedia Commons

The story is not a take on “Cinderella,” as one might think from the reference to shoes, but to “The Red Shoes,” a much darker tale originally published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845. The original tale is based on the idea of temptation and material desire; of being cursed and finding redemption through humility.

“The Perfect Shoes” follows this formula, but with exquisite steampunk details. The shoes, for example, are the creation of a master clockwork maker, M. de Raymond. Instead of being simple adornments, they are fashioned to help the heroine, Monique, fulfill her dream of being the prima ballerina of the Paris Opera Ballet:

At her ankles, knees, and hips, there were clockwork joints, gears, and flywheels, but as tiny as those in a fine watch. They would be invisible under her tights. Strangely, the shoes and their attendant gadgetry felt perfectly comfortable, as though they were a part of her body (Nye, 2016).

The shoes allow her to dance beyond her natural ability and she quickly rises to the position of prima ballerina. Monique is willing to trade her soul for her dreams, but M. de Raymond asks for much less. Still, Monique is not willing to keep the bargain she struck. But M. de Raymond does not hold this against her and allows her to keep the shoes and pursue her dreams. Instead, it is her own cruelty to the rest of the dancers and her own pride that bring about her downfall.

Does Monique find redemption at the end of the tale? That would be giving too much away. I recommend reading the tale, and the rest of the collection, for yourself.

*Fry yells: “Shut up and take my money!”
(This, of course, assumes you talk to your computer. Which I do when shopping. Frequently.)

The Mechanicals

Review Photo Author: Nix Whittaker
Release: September 26, 2016
Series: Wyvern Chronicles
Genre: Steampunk | Fantasy | Young Adult
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 152
Publisher: Reshwity
Buy it here: AMAZON

Blurb

Hara and Gideon are on a mission for the Emperor of the Wyvern Empire. They are to rescue a reluctant bride who has fallen into the clutches of an ambitious Duke. The Duke has plans to start a civil war and commit genocide of the dragons.

Spoilers Ahead

The Mechanicals is Nix Whittaker’s second book in the Wyvern Series. The first, Blazing Blunderbuss, was published early in 2016. It is not necessary to read the first book in the series to enjoy the novel, but knowledge about the characters and the story world can add a depth to the story, particularly at the start of the novel.

The novel is a unique blend of high fantasy and steampunk adventure. There are dragon/human hybrids, pirates, airships, clockwork dragons, and mechanicals/automata. Hara, the heroine of Blazing Blunderbuss, is a tough, intelligent survivor who has difficulty trusting men because of events that happened during her childhood. She and her airship crew were forced into piracy and now, in The Mechanicals, have to face the repercussions of that choice. The Emperor offers her a way out for the entire crew; help rescue his wife’s niece and avert another war.

Gideon, a dragon/human mix, bonded with Hara in Blazing Blunderbuss to save her life. In effect they are married, but Hara’s lack of trust of any man means their relationship has moved very slowly and has not been consummated. Gideon is also the uncle of the Emperor, but not considered part of the royal family because he never entered into his brother’s collection—an additional grouping that dragons join that further establishes kinship.

The thoughtfulness that Whittaker puts into creating each of her characters is evident in the complexity of their interactions and growth. When they arrive at the Emperor’s court, for example, Hara learns more about Gideon and his relationship with his family. Gideon likes being a “rogue” royal and generally avoids the Emperor’s court; he does not like the fact that many of the courtiers would play up to him simply because he is a human/dragon. And the members of the court would prize Hara’s clockwork dragon, Angel. Still, he does want Hara and her crew to be pardoned, so they answer the Emperor’s call.

“The women will try to steal Gideon and the men will try to steal your other dragon.”

For the first time Hara looked at the women whispering in the corridors as they passed. She looked at Gideon and the look in her eye said one thing. Mine. It warmed him deep in his soul and he offered his arm and she took it.

Gideon said, “You make sure the women don’t steal me and I’ll make sure the men stay away from Angel.”

Hara nodded her head sharply, “You have a deal, dragon.”
(Whittaker, 2016).

Screen Shot 2017-01-01 at 3.08.08 PMReview

I recommend Nix Whittaker’s series to anyone who likes YA fantasy/steampunk adventures. I received an advanced reader’s copy of this work, but (as always) I purchased the e-book to write the review. I liked it enough to purchase the first book in the series, so . . . I read them in reverse order. I like to support independent authors whenever possible and whenever I decide that I like a book enough to review it, I put my money behind it. You can read both novels for free if you have Kindle Unlimited, which I received as a gift for Christmas. (My friends and family know me so well!)

 

Dead Magic

Review PhotoAuthor: Kara Jorgensen
Release: November 1, 2016
Series:Ingenious Mechanical Devices
Genre: Steampunk | Fantasy | Mystery
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 306
Publisher: Fox Collie Publishing
Buy it here: AMAZON

Blurb

Immanuel wants nothing more than a peaceful life as a scientist, but his happiness is short-lived when his past demons refuse to go quietly. As body-snatching spirits attack and creatures rise from the dead, he fears his sanity is slipping. Burdened with strange new powers, he struggles to hide them from his lover for fear of losing the only person he trusts. But the woman who shares his soul has a secret of her own. Disillusioned with her life, Emmeline turns to a handsome suitor who offers her a world of limitless possibilities at an exclusive club. Rumors swirl of occult rituals and magic, and Emmeline soon fears he wants more than just her love.

Something wicked is heading for London that threatens to destroy everything Emmeline and Immanuel hold dear. And it wants more than secrets . .

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Review

Dead Magic is the fourth novel in Jorgensen’s Ingenious Mechanical Devices series and is the second novel to feature the characters of Emmeline and Immanuel. Although Dead Magic is a sequel, it is not necessary to read The Winter Garden first. (Although you absolutely should read all of the novels in this series! They are excellent.) Jorgensen provides enough details in the narrative to catch a reader up to the plot line of the new novel.

In fact, I did not follow my usual practice of rereading the prior book in the series before reviewing (mainly because, like most people, I am pressed for time during November and December), but I was swept up in the story without any difficulty. I gave a copy of this novel to a friend who had not read the prior novel and he was able to enter and enjoy the story world as well. The novel can certainly stand on its own.

Spoiler’s Ahead

For readers who enjoy steampunk and neo-Victorian fiction, there is a lot to appreciate in this novel. Set in an alternate version of Victorian Era England, Jorgensen demonstrates her expansive knowledge of the time period. Indeed, by combining the themes of science and fantasy, the author is reflecting the dominant cultural beliefs of the historical culture.

While many who lived during the 1800’s were obsessed with the developing fields of science and technology, a large number were also obsessed with mysticism and “unseen world” that supposedly existed next to our own. The practice of spiritualism was popular at all levels of society. There was widespread interest despite Christian piety in psychic phenomena and the occult. Spiritualist societies sponsored lecture tours, opened reading rooms, and published newspapers where photographic evidence of spirits were presented as proof that contact with the unseen world could be documented on film.

Many of the historical spiritualists were revealed as “fakes,” like Madame Nostra in Dead Magic. They used tricks, and even played with the new technology, to convince the gullible public in their powers.

Emmeline rolled her eyes as the others tittered for her to tell them more. One day back on English soil and they were already falling over themselves to be in Madame Nostra’s good graces. Did they not realize she couldn’t actually communicate with spirits? All it took was one reading with her for Emmeline to discover that Madame Nostra’s spirits spoke in knocks that came from her left foot. It didn’t seem right for her of all people to rise to the top, but with Lord Rose dead, Madame Nostra had the biggest name and the loudest mouth (Jorgensen, 2016).

Emmeline and Immanuel actually have abilities beyond the norm. This adds a nice touch to the story world; although based in history, it is indeed “punked” with actual magic.

The main characters develop further in the newest edition to the series. At the start of The Winter Garden, Emmeline is a young, spoiled aristocrat whose main concern is her place in society. Immanuel is a poor, foreign-exchange student at Oxford University who has to face prejudice due to both his nationality and his sexuality. After Immanuel saves her life with magic, he and Emmeline and bound by their souls.

At the start of Dead Magic, Emmeline behaves rather wantonly (for a Victorian Era lady) by encouraging the attentions of Lord Hale, a fellow spiritualist. She is also bemoaning the loss of her position as temporary head of the London Spiritualist Society. Immanuel has obtained a job as a junior curator at the Natural History Museum and lives with his lover, Adam Fenice. He still suffers bouts of post-traumatic disorder from his torture at the hands of Lord Rose, but is improving.

Once again Immanuel is the character that resonates with me the most; he is intelligent and gifted, but an outcast all the same. His romance with Adam is a secret that should not have to be kept and it offers them as much pain as it does solace. When reading this it is not hard to imagine having to live a double-life where you have to censor everything you say because society would object to your relationship.

Emmeline is growing on me, though. I think it is because she is maturing in the story and looks at the world from an adult perspective. She is headstrong, even when it gets her into trouble. She is determined and does not give up, even in the face of danger. And she is loyal to her friends.

Throughout the novel the characters develop as they face and overcome a multitude of obstacles, including those in the magical and the social realms. The pacing of the story is fast, the detail makes it easy to envision the story world, and the steampunk and fantasy elements are interwoven seamlessly.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys steampunk, fantasy, and/or mystery novels.

Other Books in the Series
Other Books in the Series

Steampunk Next by Daniel Ausema

SpireCitySeason2
Season Two of Spire City was largely written during Nanowrimo

Like many writers out there, I’m spending this month of November furiously writing, as I take part in National Novel Writing Month for the sixth time. In my first year participating, I wrote (most of) Season 2 of my steampunk-fantasy serial Spire City. A few years later, I wrote a good portion of Season 3.

The serialized seasons of that story are complete, but for a number of years I’ve had this idea for a story that takes place some twenty to thirty years later. Spire City, the Next Generation as it were…

I’ve always said, though, that the sense of change is one of the big draws to steampunk for me. If Spire City corresponds roughly to an 1890s level of tech (amped up with fantastical steam advances), then a later generation should feel different. Otherwise where’s all the change that was happening in the earlier story?

So how do you tackle that sense of change within a steampunk world? How do you create an ambience that feels more modern yet still steampunk?

I have a few ways I’m trying to give this story a later feel. The simplest is in-world change. Things that had seemed fixed and certain in the earlier story—just a part of the way things are—are now seen by the characters in the story as quaint, old-fashioned. These relics of the past make brief appearances juxtaposed with the more modern ways of the current day. That only works for those who’ve read the earlier story, but those subtle hints can have a powerful subconscious effect.

Another way, which this new story also makes use of, is to simply amp up the steam. Make the gears and gadgets and airships even more fantastical. Make the inventions of the earlier story, which had evoked a sense of wonder, commonplace compared to the new things that are rolling out.

But what specific things can a storyteller use to make this feel like real change?

I’ve found two that are working for my story.

First, this is much more a war story than the earlier one. Most of the characters are away from the fighting themselves, but everyone is deeply affected by the ongoing war. So I’m looking at World War I tech and weaving in some of the advances of that era. And even beyond the tech, the demeanor of the soldiers and the way people back in Spire City behave can really create that sense of being in a later era.

Image from Wikipedia
Image from Wikipedia

The other big advance is a widespread use of radio. I’ve read steampunk stories with radios in them. There’s nothing to say you don’t already have radios in your stories, but for the world I created in the Spire City stories, it creates a startlingly different feel. It’s often very subtle on the surface, but it gives the mood of the story just the right amount of difference.

So when did radio come into use in our world, and what kind of other tech will fit with a use of radio, if you decide to incorporate it in your steampunk stories? You could make an argument going back even to the early industrial revolution, if you want an especially brilliant inventor or fortuitous discovery. Some of the earliest experiments began all the way back into the late 18th century.

Then for a good stretch of the 1800s, new experiments and observations pushed our understanding forward. In fact, Edison in 1875 tied radio waves in with that beloved-of-steampunk-fans term the ether (or specifically “the etheric force”). But it was really in the 1880s that scientists began to understand what they were working with and make use of it.

The early devices, using a continuous wave, were quite limited. So it wasn’t until World War I that radios began to be more useful. And our image of the old-time commercial radio system didn’t spread until the 1920s.

So all of that fits with the time era I am looking at for this story. I’ve heard some creators try to define a separate term for things based on that somewhat later era, but such distinctions have never interested me. I still call it steampunk.

What about you? Any inventions or developments that give your steampunk stories a later feel? I’d love to hear.

Upcoming Steampunk Festivals, Symposiums, Conventions, and Expos

As 2016 winds to a close, we can look forward to all of the new travel and event opportunities available for 2017. Although there are many places and festivals anyone interested in steampunk can visit in North America, international interest in this style of speculative fiction/art is growing as well. I have listed a few events/festivals below that have caught my eye, including one in Canada. I hope this helps you plan your future steampunk-related travels!

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The Emerald City Steampunk Expo

The Emerald City Steampunk Expo

Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview in Wichita, Kansas

November 4-6, 2016

Website: http://www.emeraldcitysteampunkexpo.com/

The expo includes a Doctor Who Viewing Room, a Murder Mystery Theater, a Burlesque and Oddities show, a Cosplay Fashion Show, a Mustache Contest, Concert, and several mini-symposiums.

 

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The International Steampunk Symposium

The International Steampunk Symposium

Cincinnati, Ohio

April 28-30, 2017

 

Website: http://thepandorasociety.com/symposium/

K.W. Jeter—the author who coined the phrase “steampunk” in 1987—is a featured speaker at this year’s symposium.

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The Steampunk World’s Fair

The Steampunk World’s Fair

Piscataway, New Jersey

May 5-7, 2017

Website: http://steampunkworldsfair.com/welcome/

Billed as the world’s largest steampunk event. Headlining guests include author Gail Carriger and steampunk band Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band.

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Steampunk in the Catskills

Steampunk in the Catskills

Blackthorne Resport, East Durham, New York

June 9-11, 2017

Website: http://steampunkcatskills.com/

There are performers, vendors, and a steampunk haunted house listed for the event.

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Coldwater Steampunk Festival

Coldwater Steampunk Festival

Coldwater Ontario

August 10-12, 2017

Website: http://www.steampunkfestivalcoldwater.com/

The event is listed as Canada’s 150th Steampunk’d Birthday and Inter Arts Festival with a Circus, Art Exhibits, Performers, and Musicians.

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Springfield Steampunk Festival

Springfield Steampunk Festival

Hartness House Inn, Springfield, Vermont

September 15-16, 2017

Website: http://springfieldvtsteampunkfest.com/

The event is set to feature live music and performances.

Please share any information about future steampunk festivals, conventions, or expos in the comments.  We would love to hear about new events!

 

Arwen, another steampunk tinkerer.

gun 1.1Hey all, it’s me again with another interview of a steampunk maker this time it’s Arwen from Slovenia. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

My real name is Arnea, however, most of everybody who knows me call me Arwen. As Hazel Grace would say, “I am quite unextraordinary.” I am an INFJ personality type, I love Game of Thrones, Grey’s Anatomy, books, Florence and the Machine, WoW (World of Warcraft), LoL (League of Legends), Skyrim, LOTR, apple and cinnamon tea, and chocolate. Haha!

I am a 20-year old who has found herself, due to a series of rather fortunate events, living in a world much different from what I was used to.

I moved to live in a small town in Slovenia that is surrounded by untouched large forests, hills, and mountains. The nearest bigger town is around 90 kilometers away. However, this country has a touch of Shire to it, and that’s what I absolutely love. Technology wise, we have some cellphones, a laptop, and no TV. It is the way of life my parents along with me chose to have.

 

Being able to fully understand how life works “outside the system”, I discovered certain affiliations and talents I couldn’t have exercised before, when I was completely integrated into the ordinary schooling and living system, along with the much familiar factor of the “internet disturbance”. In other words, being “outside the system” and away from usual obligations, I learned a lot about myself, including how I am very much a tinkerer! (something like Tinkerbell, only the hair being red and minus the wings,and you know, magic)

Having abundant free time led me to the idea of creating, and modifying pretty much anything I could get my hands on. From drawing  Lion King characters, to making home decorations, to messing around with carpentry in my stepdad’s workshop, and finally, creating and modifying steampunk weapons. I realized it is only when you have “nothing to do ” that you figure out your hidden talents.

gun1

Is there much of a steampunk culture in a country like Slovenia?

Slovenia being a tiny country, I have not yet had the impression of it being into the theme of Steampunk. Perhaps it is because, to a certain extent, steampunk isn’t defined as much, or maybe  the “geeks” of this land are just hiding in their holes and I have yet to find them. I hope it is the latter.

The only people who I have “met” so far who are into steampunk, is a bar in Murska Sobota, called ” Bunker postapocalyptic steampunk bar”. I haven’t visited them yet, but so far , they seem really cool. They serve foods and beverages you’d  find in a fancy post-apocalyptic restaurant, their staff is fully dressed into steampunk clothing, and you get to enjoy your food and stay in a very cozy, steampunk themed place. I invite everyone in Slovenia or close to it , reading this, to come check them out.

s-l1600

What inspires you most about steampunk, and what elements do you like to incorporate?

For me, steampunk is all about being able to improvise. Let’s imagine you really do find yourself living in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world. You have accustomed yourself to the brutality and dangers of your surroundings, as well as the scarceness of resources. Your weapons are rusty and handmade, but there is your personal touch to them. You shot dead a coyote in the wilderness and ripped out its tooth, used that old strap of leather you had and strapped it to your shotgun’s barrel. Or you traded some fur for a mechanic to improve your crossbow, and now it’s a semi-automatic with gears turning. Thinking of steampunk like that, I try to incorporate the very “mainstream factors” of steampunk, as well as everyday objects like watches, chains, little copper jewelry, leather…anything you’d scavenge in a real dystopian world. I believe that adding a bit of the unordinary makes steampunk items the real deal.

gun 2

Do you have any favourites of the pieces you have made? Why?

Being fairly new to this sorta thing, all my items are my favourites. Someone else might see a cool looking Strongarm nerf gun that was modified into steampunk, but I see 26 hours of work, 6 layers of acrylic, and that pesky mechanism that wouldn’t work at the start, so I had to call my stepdad, whip out 7 million different tools I can’t even name, and firemen, to be able to repair it. This is, I believe, the case with all beginners that decided to create something out of nothing. You see the process in which the item was made, and you are proud that you made it to the end.

My very first shotgun, aka Harold, was sold just a few days ago on ebay. I wasn’t emotionally attached to him anymore, but just the thought of my creation being somewhere half the world away, gave me this amazing sense of accomplishment and joy. I still have two guns for sale, as I am trying to make some money so I could continue my projects.

You can find projects on Ebay under http://www.ebay.com/usr/arwendor1997?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

gun 2.1

Final question, unlimited resources what do you make?

If I had unlimited time and resources, I would definitely embark on bigger and more requiring projects. I don’t know what that would be, but I always strive to do something new. Would it just be bigger guns, or maybe even some other steampunk stuff like decor, furniture, cars, spaceships, aircrafts? Haha! I don’t know. However what I do know is that I have discovered something that brings me joy when I do it, and I think that is the most valuable thing I could get. The money that I’d get from selling my items is not and never will be the top priority. I would also love to have infinite resources so I could just give my items away to friends and other people, who would be joyous to have my stuff in their homes.

That would make me really happy. Too bad everything in our current world costs money, you know. Thus even our passions and hobbies depend on it. But one must not lose hope. The system should and will fall one day, and if we do find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic world, the most valuable thing we should clean, sharpen, refill, polish, repair and keep safe, is our humanity and goodness.

gun 2.1

Thank you so much for your time and I will definitely visit Bunker when I make it across the pond.

The Tinkerer’s Daughter

Review PhotoAuthor: Jamie Sedgwick
Release: 2011
Series: The Tinkerer’s Daughter trilogy
Genre: Steampunk | Fantasy | YA
Edition: Kindle and Paperback
Pages: 290
Publisher: Timber Hill Press
Buy it here: AMAZON

Blurb

Breeze is an outcast, a half-breed orphan born into a world torn apart by a thousand years of war. Breeze never knew her elven mother, and when her human father is recalled to the war, he leaves her in the safest place he knows: in the care of a reclusive tinker.

The Tinkerman’s inventions are frightening at first -noisy, smelly, dangerous machines with no practical use- but when the war comes home, Breeze sees an opportunity. If she can pull it off, she’ll change the world forever. If she fails, she’ll be considered a traitor by both lands and will be hunted to her death.

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 3.13.33 PMReview

I purchased this novel through a free offer in Bookbub and I have subsequently purchased the other two novels in the series. I am looking forward to reading them over the holidays—preferably curled up on the couch with a cup of eggnog-flavored latte by my side. This series is a mixture of the fantasy and steampunk genres. It is appropriate for YA readers.

Spoilers Ahead

As a child of four, Breeze’s father leaves her with the Tinkerman. He has been called to fight in a war with the Tal’mar—elf-like creatures that live in the neighboring realm. Breeze is half human and half Tal’mar and is an outcast in both worlds; although she has the build and coloring of a human, she has the ears of a Tal’mar and would be shunned in either kingdom.

Although leery at first when meeting him, there were new and exciting things for Breeze to discover at the Tinkerman’s cottage. This is where the steampunk elements start to come into the storyline.

It was dark inside, until Tinker pulled a metal switch on the wall. A shower of sparks rained down from the ceiling, and a dim light flooded the room. I glanced up at the odd device and saw a glowing coil of metal attached to two thick wires. My father paid little attention to this gadget, but to me it may as well have been magic. I had never seen anything like it. Our small cabin had always been lit by candles and oil-burning lanterns. This was something new, something exciting!
(Sedgwick, 2011).

I enjoyed the description of the Tinkerman’s cottage and barn. There were mazes of books, piles of gadgets, strange devices, and stacks of wood and metal parts scattered everywhere. While Breeze is getting used to these items and learning how to “tinker” and invent from the Tinkerman, she also develops magical abilities from the Tal’mar side of her heritage. She has the ability to connect with the trees, for example, and they communicate with her and help her to travel.

This is an enjoyable story with a positive, upbeat heroine. It is a first person narration that develops as Breeze ages and grows in knowledge and understanding. Yes—bad things happen in the novel, but Breeze focuses on using her natural gifts to improve the situation. For example—after Breeze learns that both humans and Tal’mar would hate and distrust her because of the war, she considers the situation:

How could I have been born into a world so cruel? I’d started out knowing nothing about the world, and had found that the more I knew, the more I hated it. I didn’t like feeling that way. I didn’t like the hopelessness that was gripping me,
the promise of a future full of loneliness and rejection. Then something happened. It was like a switch got flipped in my mind. I’m going to change things, I decided. I’m going to find a way to make them like me. I’m not going to live my whole life like a hermit in the mountains, even if Tinker says I will. Someday I’ll be able to go to town, maybe even live there…
(Sedgwick, 2011).

This is a child’s thought after experiencing the hateful prejudice of the human townspeople, but the core idea never leaves her mind. As she ages, Breeze focuses on ways to change the situation and bring about an end to the war.

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 6.25.03 PM Breeze was not willing to give up on living in society. After reading a lot of novels with angst-filled heroes/heroines, this was a pleasant departure for me. It reinforced the idea that a person does not have to fundamentally change who he/she is to find a place in society. It is, essentially, a story about staying true to your ideals and beliefs.

The Tinkerer’s Daughter is an enjoyable YA novel. Sedgwick has created an interesting story world that contains an equal amount of steampunk and fantasy aspects. I am anxiously waiting for the holidays so that I have enough time to finish the series.

The Grand Canadian Steampunk Expo Part 2

_DSC0297_smallI’ve spent so much time organizing and editing all the great photos I got at the Grand Canadian Steampunk Expo that I’m posting this much later in the day than planned, but I’m still just as excited to share all these wonderful things with you as I was when I began–and I’d like to start with a little story about Death. No, not the inevitable doom of our mortal bodies(and souls depending on who you ask), but the wonderful, fully posable replica you see sitting on my shelf.

 

There are probably millions of variations on the grim reaper, but this replica isn’t just any grim reaper. It’s Terry Pratchett’s Death, his version of the grim reaper and one of the most memorable fixtures of the Discworld series. Right from the beginning Death is one of Pratchett’s strongest–and most amusing–characters. He’s also a uniquely lighthearted portrayal of something most of us fear.

Some of you are probably aware that my dad passed away when I was only 12 years old and that I’ve had a bit of an obsession with death since then. I’ve read and watched dozens of stories with different interpretations of the grim reaper, and throughout all those stories, Terry Pratchett’s Death has remained my favourite. So when I saw this replica I simply had to buy it–and put it on my shelf the moment I got home, right beside my miniature Iron Throne(no, I wasn’t actually thinking about the irony there when I did it).

 

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Of   all the things I saw at the Grand Canadian Steampunk Expo–and even out of all the things I bought–I have to say this replica of Terry Pratchett’s Death is my favourite, an item I will cherish for many years to come, along with all my Discworld books.

But there were many other beautiful things and now that I’ve finished my story I’d like to show you some of them:

This miniature typewriter was part of one of the most brilliant author displays I've ever seen.
This miniature typewriter was part of one of the most brilliant author displays I’ve ever seen.
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Books! Rebecca Diem was amazing to chat with(also the owner of the typewriter above) and I am super excited to check out these books.
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Frogbat finger puppets? Yes please! Going to be custom ordering a purple one
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The creators of the frogbat! Also one of my favourite musical acts from the weekend.
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The cool part about these is that you can actually replace the notebooks inside & use the covers forever!
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A bandolier! This piece is totally beautiful & reminded me somewhat of the bandolier of bells necromancers use in The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix.

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Definitely the coolest hat I saw at the convention
Definitely the coolest hat I saw at the convention

 

The Grand Canadian Steampunk Expo Part One

Steampunk ExpoTwo weekends ago I volunteered at the Grand Canadian Steampunk Expo, the largest steampunk event in the eastern half of Canada(we don’t talk about the western half; it’s cheaper to fly to Europe) and one I had been looking forward to all year.

I’ve been to quite a few conventions over the years(my first was FanExpo 2008) but this one was totally unlike any of them, and not only because it was a steampunk event. It also took place in Fort George, which was the headquarters of the Centre Division of the British Army in the war of 1812. There isn’t exactly an abundance of truly important historical sites in Canada, and many of the ones we do have–like old residential schools–don’t exactly make me proud of our history, but Fort George is a definite exception.
Continue reading “The Grand Canadian Steampunk Expo Part One”