Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for ZOMBIES

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Finally. Finally we're at letter Z. This has been tougher to do that I originally thought, but it feels good to finally come to the end!

Let's face it, we love zombies. And steampunk does too! And why not? It's a fantastic contrast - the fusion of a perfect and idealized past with the gruesome and horrible zombie-laden future.

For example, in the YA book, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Seattle has built a huge wall to contain the "Rotters." These zombies were once regular people, but a terrible gas called the "Blight" escaped from the ground and transformed these citizens into flesh hungry monsters.

Here are some great examples of steampunked zombies:

Stuff steampunk nightmares are made from

Oops. Got just a touch of the "Blight."

An airship full of brains!

This dude actually scares the shit out of me.
Was a noble woman, now loves to eat brains.



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Young Adult

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Young Adult literature is my first love. Not only did I grow up reading it, but I gained a whole new appreciation as a high school English teacher. Yeah, I taught the classics, but I used a lot of contemporary YA in the classroom too.

YA literature has embraced steampunk, and you'll find some awesome reads in this genre. Here are a few of my favorites:

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clairel: Tessa Gray knows nothing about the Shadowhunter world until she comes to London looking for her lost brother.  Upon her arrival she is kidnapped by members of the mysterious Pandemonium Club where she learns the truth about her own supernatural abilities - abilities that connect her to the dark underworld of vampires, werewolves, and shape shifters. Frightened by the power she has to change her appearance at will, Tessa seeks protection from two Shadowhunter boys whose sole job is to keep their world safe from those who want to destroy it.


Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest: Zeke Wilkes needs to clear his father’s name of a horrible tragedy. Sixteen years ago Dr. Wilkes was determined to find gold with his bone shaking drill engine, but instead he released a toxic gas that destroyed the city of Seattle and turned its people into zombies. Set in 1880s Civil War-era Seattle amid high tech mechanical gadgetry, this alternate reality story by Cherie Priest mixes mad scientists, airships, and the living dead into a clever story of survival and suspense.


The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor: Alyss Heart is royalty in Wonderland and next in line to inherit the throne. There’s just one problem: her evil Aunt Redd is plotting to kill her. To escape, Alyss jumps into the Pool of Tears, a portal to other worlds, and reemerges from a puddle in Victorian England. Although loosely based on the original story by Lewis Carroll, fans will enjoy seeing familiar characters in an alternate reality.


The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade: Hunchbacked teen Modo has a special gift: the ability to transform his appearance. When Mr. Socrates, a mysterious agent from the Permanent Association, learns of Modo’s abilities he offers to train the boy to be a spy for the British crown.  Modo’s first assignment is to uncover murderous plots laid by The Clockworld Guild against Britain, and to stop a mad scientist from turning street orphans into automatons.


The Leviathan Series, by Scott Westerfield: Two opposing forces are on the brink of war. The Clankers - who put their faith in machinery - and the Darwinists - who have begun evolving living creatures into tools. Prince Aleksandar, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs. Meanwhile Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing the ultimate flying machine: an airship made of living animals. Now, as Alek flees from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are about to collide...

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for (Professor) X

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Dang! X is a tough letter to use in the challenge. So I decided to show you cool pics of a steampunked version of Professor X and his incredible wheelchair.


This is a REAL working wheelchair


Look at that detail!

The elegance of Victorian, and the steampunk chimney


Steampunk Professor X himself


# # # #

I was recently tagged by the lovely Veronica Sicoe in The Lucky 7 Meme. What I'm charged with doing is going to either page 7 or 77 of my WIP, and then give you 7 lines. I won't tag 7 fellow bloggers, but if you want to participate, please do! I love reading all of your current projects.

My WIP is Dragonfly Warrior, the first book in the Mechanica Wars series. My deadline is next week to get my final draft to my publisher, and if all goes well, publication will be July 30th. 

It's a steampunk novel (duh!), set in an alternative world. My main character is Zen (short for Zenjiro Kanze), and he's traveled from far away to a strange and terrifying new world. He's hitched a ride with a Nabeho-native pilot, named Enapay, on his airship, and they find themselves in the middle of a war.

Here's page 77, and the first 7 lines:

As the Dragonfly descended, the raiders' shots harmlessly cut through the air around them. Zen saw other bodies scattered on the ground thirty feet below, concluding that they were fallen Nabeho guards from the raiders' attack. The bullets were getting closer to finding their marks, and Zen could wait no longer. After removing his long coat, he found his revolver and climbed to the edge of the airship's starboard.
What the hell are you doing? We're still too high.” Enapay kept one hand on the steering wheel, but tried to grab Zen with the other.
Zen crouched low, keeping his balance with his grip on a rope.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for WESTERN

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Yes, steampunk is centered around the Victorian time period in England (19th century), but here in America, our country was the new frontier. Explorers venturing into new territory, clashing with the native populations. The industrial revolution exploded, and western expansion was made possible by the steam train.

I grew up on Westerns. Still love them. And the Western setting does play an important part in my current project, Dragonfly Warrior. To me Westerns are a wilder, grittier version of the heroic motif of the old legends (King Arthur, Beowulf, Odysseus). Good and bad are clearly defined, and many of us to love the anti-hero that Westerns popularized.  And a world were lawlessness and an untamed land can be unforgiving is a wonderful setting for an adventure.

Here are some cool Western-inspired steampunk goodies:


Steampunk gunfight

Steampunk on horseback

Steampunked Wild Bill!

What's a Western without a cowboy?

And steampunk cowgirl too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for VICTORIAN

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Yesterday's post was about steampunk and whether it's utopian or not. Steampunk might borrow many of the great aesthetics of Victorian (Edwardian) society and culture, but I would not consider it utopian literature. After all, it has the word "punk" in it. And that has connotations of rebellion, of challenging the establishment, and living on the fringes of society.

So here's some cool examples of the fusion of everything Victorian and steampunk goodness:

Her dress is Victorian, but the corset screams steampunk

Victorian house, made into a steampunk RV

Look closely, and you'll see the Victorian/Gothic lines in this truck

Steampunk President Lincoln!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for UTOPIA

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


I hope you've enjoyed my pic-heavy posts the last couple of weeks. Since steampunk is incredibly visual, I had to SHOW you all the cool steampunkish stuff.

But today, I want to discuss the theme of utopia in steampunk. There's an ongoing debate about whether steampunk is uptopian, dystopian, or something in between. I would say that although steampunk does take the Victorian (or Edwardian) view of a uptopian society, the fact that the word "punk" makes up half of steampunk means that it takes this view, and turns it on its head.

Once again, steampunk is speculative fiction where time/technology is completely out of order. In its most basic premise, steampunk is what might have been. What if electricity had never been invented (or at least in the way we know), and steam continued to be the main powersource for everything. But if you dig deeper, modern steampunk dares to make a strong statement about this idea of Victorian romance that early steampunk works seemed to project.

Also, is there really such a thing as pure utopian stories anymore? Much of speculative fiction that does depict a  utopian society shows how such a notion is impossible to sustain. Societal perfection usually comes at a huge price - and its most often at the expense of personal freedom and liberty. Hell, I learned this from watching Logan's Run when I was a kid.

Victorian society might have seemed perfect on the surface, but it was far from a utopia. It was full of class warfare, racism, and mysogany. When we think of Victorian morality, we think of prim and proper. Strict moral code, height of industrialism and self improvement, and enlightenment. But class warfare and elitism remained. Women were not seen as equals, and people of color were seen as less-than-human.

I conclude that steampunk is really an oxymoron: it borrows the proper attitudes, the love of visual aesthetics, and the power of the great industrial revolution. Then it throws along with it into the proverbial blender, the fight for individuality, challenging the status quo, and the dangers of sacrificing personal freedom. It's about the rise of the underdog (the poor, or women, or people of color), and breaking through that rigid social strata.

Modern steampunk has taken a darker edge, and it's also taken on a more supernatural twist (another Victorian/Edwardian phenomenon). Sure, we can all gawk about steampunk's awesome aesthetics. But in the end, steampunk is about revolution, massive worldwide change, and the transformation that an industrial/technological explosion can bring to society.



Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for TELEVISION

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Steampunk hasn't enjoyed a whole lot of success on the small screen. However, there have been some excellent examples of steampunk settings/stories featured on a few television shows.


The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Bruce Campbell, a Western setting, science fiction stories, and steampunk gadgets. Sounds like a winner, right? Wrong. This show went the way of Firefly. A wonderful show that just didn't get any traction. It ran back in 1993-1994.


Fox, you need to bring this show back. And while you're at it, how about Firefly?




The Wild Wild West. This great TV show ran from 1965-1969, and I would consider this program way ahead of its time. The setting is a wonderful combination of the Western, spy show, and steampunk technologies. The story centered around a gunslinger and a gadget-master, traveling by train that had its own laboratory. Doesn't get anymore steampunk than that.

Not the movie version. It sucked!


Avatar - The Last Airbender. Steampunk and Asian mythology. I watched this great show on Nicklodeon. It's filled with mysticism, legends, and steampunk airshps and battle ships. Did you see the spin-off, Legend of Korra? If not, go check it out NOW. In my opinion, The Avatar series is one of the best TV shows ever. And I can watch it with my kids. Not a whole lot of Asians on TV, so bravo to Nicklodeon!
This film version sucked too! It did not do this great show any justice.


Doctor Who - the long-running TV show (goes back to 1963) is a perfect fusion of true science fiction with steampunky elements. The show centers around a time/space traveling alien that can regenerate his body whenever he's severely injured and his machine called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space)
Look at all that steampunk goodness!

Friday, April 20, 2012

S is for STEAM

Thanks to an error of mine, you get two posts today! Oops. Oh well. So no new post Saturday. That's okay, as I can use a little bit of a breather. So check out my "R" post below as well!


Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Steampunk wouldn't be steampunk without STEAM! Although you might see other power sources like early forms of electricity (think Tesla), steam is the primary source of power. And steam powers everything from robots, to vehicles, and even weapons.

At the heart of any steam powered contraption, especially vehicles is the steam engine. Here are the basic components that are necessary to utilize steam power:

1) You need heat. In order to heat water to make steam, many sources of fuel are coal, wood, or in the steampunk universe, other kinds of interesting elements like a new form of coal or element. The combustion usually takes place in some sort of chamber, like a firebox.

Firebox. Can't touch this!

2) Boiler. These are the special sealed tanks that holds the water to be heated to form steam. From the combustion in the firebox, there's a transfer of heat straight to the boiler, heating up the water.

The boiler

3) Motor or engine. Just like a regular gas powered car, the engine makes use of cylinders with pistons that move from the steam power transferred from the boiler. This trapped steam inside the cylinder is compressed, pushing the piston.
Pistons (and not the ones from Detroit)

4) Exhaust. This can happen through a chimney or smoke stack. Any unused steam escapes from the cylinder and goes out the exhaust system.

Behold, the power of steam!

R is for ROBOTS

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Robotics is another common theme in everything steampunk. Some stories revolve around the morality of technology and building machines that feel (think steampunk I, Robot). Others use robots and other automata as weapons.  Steampunk engineers use robots to help perform difficult labor.


Here are some of my faves:


Automaton Exo Suit, built for destruction!


Many make great pets. And they don't poop


Many resemble animals and insects


Some are used for transport (and having epic battles on)


Gotta find those valuable minerals


Automata can replace lost limbs

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Queen

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Since steampunk borrows from Victorian and Edwardian societies, aristocracy plays an important in many steampunk stories. Many themes in this genre center around caste systems, and the vast gap between the haves and have nots.

So here are my favorite steampunk queens. Okay, they might not be queens and just steampunk hotties.

Asian Queen

Queen of Robotics

Queen of Elegance

Queen of Engineering

Queen of action

Okay, here's one for the ladies