Tag: steampunk

Published by Professor von Explaino

Events, fashion, steampunk

Striding Out

On Saturday 6th, Brisbane hosted the inaugural Steampunk Strides event. Billed as “a night of well-mannered frivolity, where the Steam World and Modern day society meet!”, the event entertained near-capacity attendees with music, burlesque and belly-dancing, fashion, stalls, a make-yourself-steampunk display and a photo booth. The concept of Ged Maybury (author of Across the Stonewind Sky), he formed a local band of enthusiastic smart-people with the dual goal of providing a place for local Steampunkers to showcase their talent and to show interested people just what Steampunk was about.

And it was great.

It was held at the Kingston Butter Factory, right near a train-station making it easy for people to get to. Booth-holders were a collection of local, well known alternative fashion groups and highly talented individual artists of stitch and seam (including a make-up booth; an ethical taxidermist along with wonderful jewellers  [some of whom alter origami into washing-machine-defying broaches and earrings]). The ROSEA-pioneered “MakeYourselfASteampunkOutfit” booth saw a more elaborate version at this event, and was joined with a photo booth that did colour, black and white or sepia pictures and was lots of fun (thanks for your original idea, Lady Alex!). The musical accompaniment to the fashion shows was provided by Gimpus, a heavy rock band who toned their show down to be a real accompaniment to the fashion display and the fashions themselves were brilliant.

One of my biggest surprises was the number of steampunkers who I had never met before, and the number of steampunkers I do know that didn’t make it to the event. I take this as a positive sign that, despite the cries of Beiber (which I have to say is a bit harsh) and the woes of mainstream, the movement is continuing to (ahem) stride ahead. The quality of the entrants in the Fashion/ Build award was testament to that, the well-earned winners being a family Steampunk Ghostbusters team with elaborate and device-functional backpacks (and the cutest darn little steampunker you ever did see that wasn’t my own son).

As an attendee, I have to rate the Steampunk Strides an unqualified success and dearly hope they are planning on making this a recurring event.

To see more from the event (I took no photos as per the request to only allow the official photographers their space):

Published by Professor von Explaino

Events, fashion, steampunk

The Crew, side of train (shot by Jaymes Young)

This year when planning the STEAM picnic, a clever chap noted that there was a Steam train that left the station near our traditional Roma Street Parklands picnic spot on Sundays. The idea was thrown around and a group of us decided to steam train before picnicking that afternoon.

The picnic turn-out was a lot lower than usual (a lot lower) but it turned it into a much closer chat, being able to have a less divide-into-subgroups afternoon snack was delightful. To make it the most splendid picnic ever, Tesric very cleverly proposed to Merryn as the group was breaking up and it was absolutely beautiful. An honour to have been present as two absolutely wonderful people teared up and hugged each other.

My son Sean joined us for his second steam-picnic and Jocelyn dressed up as well – meaning we got some lovely Steam family shots as well as the group. I chose to wear my candy-stripe shirt rather than my traditional white; partly for fun, partly to play with modernising steampunk, and partly because it’s something the Professor would do if he could.

Well this is rather exciting. A Brisbane craft and design gallery called “Artisan” is holding a steampunk exhibit in October – and it appears to be touring all the eastern Australian states. It includes a number of my favourite Australian steampunk artists, and if you’re an Australian Steampunk artist they’re still open for submissions. You can find more information at their gallery exhibits site (you’ll have to search for it as it’s in date order of all their exhibits). They also have a Facebook page to add to your calendar.

Recently the Steampunks of Brisbane were interviewed by Michael Lund of the Courier Mail regarding, well, Steampunk. Entitled “Letting off steam“, the article paints quite a good picture of the Steampunk subculture’s life in the city and has a number of stop-off points to find out more. One of them is this very site, so to further your Steampunkian education I’ve collated as much as I can of my Steampunk-related bookmarks into this post. There may be a test.

Inspiration – blogs

The people who inspire me when I look into steampunk, who are well worth a follow; also individual articles on steampunk that are a good read.

Inspiration – books and comics

Steampunk was coined as a genre around the 1980s, but works that support the steampunk ideal were around well before that. Many of the works by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells can be found for free, legal download from eBook repositories.

  • Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium » IN WHICH A STREET REQUIRES CLEANING: A book that was released a chapter a Monday. Now fully up for download.
  • Steampunk Magazine – free to download!
  • Steampunk tales for your iPhone: Exciting this, the President of Steampulp Publishing contacted us directly to promote this eMagazine for the iPhone. Billed as the “Penny Dreadful for your iPhone”, it’s now up to issue 9 as of Apr 2011.
  • League of Extra-ordinary Gentlemen: A little more adult than most people expect from a comic book (the Invisible Man introduction was quite confronting, as if the acquisition of Quartermain wasn’t enough), regardless of your opinion of the movie this does delve into a distopian vision of steampunk.
  • Gail Carriger: Parasol Protectorate series. Werewolves, vampires, parasols and Victorian England. Gail’s take on a supernatural steampunk includes a new breed of supernatural rather than just co-opting the well known, parascience also makes a grand entrance. Book four is due 2011. Gail also has a specific page on her site with her views on steampunk.
  • H.G. Wells at Project Gutenberg: The First Men in the Moon, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Time Machine. More ubiquitous speculative fiction that has mirrored modern advancements. Well, we haven’t revealed the time machine yet due to patenting issues.
  • The Difference Engine: Written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, it’s described as a prime example of the steampunk sub-genre. Modern-esque devices wrapped in Industrial Revolution technology, hackers (clackers in this parlance) trying to break into the mass produced difference engines. It is a complete alternate history sparking off from our own but with parallels of events/ technology.
  • Jules Verne at Project Gutenberg: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, Paris in the 20th Century. These books were written before the turn of the 20th century and predicted submarines, rocket ships, air-conditioning – many modern technologies. The overarching technology aesthetic remained Victorian in style, a driving force behind modern Steampunk.
  • Girl Genius Online Comics!: By Phil and Kaja Foglio, the comics follow Agatha Heterodyne through an alternate Europe where “the industrial revolution became an all-out war”. Dirigibles, utterly bonkers science, constructs and clanks. Most of ROSEA swear by their goggles that their store is marvelous – not just because most of ROSEA got their goggles originally from said store.

Inspiration – movies and television

  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Almost nothing like the comic, but that’s why these are movie adaptions rather than direct clones. The Nautilus is tres steamy. And you cannot go wrong with dirigibles. Well, not without trying hard.
  • The Time Machine: Say what you will about movies not following plots, but that is one delicious looking time machine. Watch the DVD extras for more shots of it.
  • Baron Munchausen: While quite a bit earlier than the generally accepted steampunk era (being the reign of Queen Victoria), the clockwork bird, hot air balloon and musical instrument of the Grand Turk have airs of the technology. And I’m quite taken by the whole tall tales factor.
  • Doctor Who, “The Next Doctor” 2008 Christmas Special: The Doctor has generally had an aura of steampunk – fixing his own technology (occasionally using the ancient technique of percussive maintenance) – but this time the Cybermen get involved. Steam will out, after all.
  • Doctor Who, “The Girl in the Fireplace”: Clockwork bad guys, Madame de Pompadour. The Doctor rides a horse. Delightful.

Inspiration – devicery

This section presents a number of sites with steampunk examples, advice, and items for purchase.

Inspiration – fashion & cosplay

Inspiration – art and writing

Inspiration – games and applications

Most of the games and applications will be based on my own experience and platforms (OS X, PS3, Wii, Win), but I’m always open to suggestions.

Inspiration – music

  • Mr B. – Gentleman Rhymer: For those who like diction with their rap addiction.
  • Professor Elemental: He even has a song called “Steam Powered” specifically about steampunk. His “Cup of Brown Joy” song all about tea was the first truly steampunk song I heard.
  • Abney Park: I lose my license if I don’t mention these guys. We’ve submitted some videos to their “Help make our music video” thing; wish us luck!
  • Clockwork Quartet: Not only are their topics Victorian steampunkian, but they have Steampunk characters and their first two songs are about clockwork and science – with the talent to include clock-ticks and scientific note-taking as musical instruments.
  • Sunday Driver: World music, with Indian overtones but steampunk sentiments.
  • The Clockwork Dolls: Instrumental music with feeling. As they say, great soundtrack to happenings.

Inspiration – shops

Places to buy the Steampunked, the Steampunkable and the Steampunking

Participation – groups and events

I like Silver Goggles. It’s been part of my required reading Rss repository(1) for ages. This week, Jaymee interviewed Stephanie Lai, an Australian-Malaysian-Chinese lass, about Steampunk and Australia. Huzzah!

And then I read the following “There are a lot of readers and writers, and as a community we are definitely growing, if the number of panels being run at cons (and the number of people attending) is anything to go by. There’s nothing separate happening, mostly it’s just a handful of panels at Swancon and Continuum, but I think we’re moving towards maybe a specialised gathering or two”…”Steampunk itself in Australia is still basically nascent!”

Well dang. Steampunk has been proceeding in leaps and bounds all over Australia and New Zealand (I’m including our Antipodean Bretheren) in more places than just con panels, and I’m thinking that we just haven’t been noisy enough about everything we’ve been up to. So consider this, in the vernacular, a signal boost.


  • STEAM, ROSEA, FAUST: Brisbane’s major steampunk groups, founded a number of years ago, they’ve participated in charity fund raising, picnics and other events. Full disclosure: I’m one of the founders of ROSEA
  • Antipodean League of Temporal Voyagers: altv has a blog that promotes events and discusses steampunk around Australia.
  • Adelaide Steampunk: a very active collection of talented South Australians
  • League of Victorian Imagineers: Spectacular New Zealand Steampukenrs who have claimed Oamaru as their base, and they’ve been welcomed! A Steampunk town in New Zealand, that’s nifty.
  • Steampunk HQ


  • The Mad Uncle, who is currently working on and off on creating a Steampunk Motorcycle, has opened a shop in Melbourne selling antiques and steampunk builds.
  • Baron von Borg: a good friend of mine of many arms, he also had made raffle prizes for Prometheus Bound to help new steampunkers
  • Tesla Down Under: I’ll admit this is more mad science than steampunk, but come on! Guy makes various tesla coils do all sorts of wonderful things, and was at Euchronia last year making things go Fzzzzzzz!
  • Me


  • Euchronia: a steampunk new years eve event that happens every two years.
  • Prometheus Bound: a steampunk nightcub that on Feb 4 celebrated it’s 4th anniversary. It did this by having not only a massive nightclub, but also featured Voltaire from New York. Exceptionally exciting
  • Supanova. While this is the pop culture expo, so not strictly steampunk, the Brisbane event has an unofficial Steampunk Sunday, where all the local (and some not so local) Steampunkers turn up in their garb to hang out, chat, and get the now traditional staircase photo. Local steampunk era have won a number of the Cosplay awards over the years, so that’s something to say about steampunk’s impact on the non steampunkers.
  • STEAM: Brisbane organizes picnics, movie outings and the like through the year.
  • Steamfest: This isn’t a steampunk event, rather it’s a celebration of the Steam age in Australia. A number of steampunks I know make yearly pilgrimages to this place to learn from blacksmiths, leather workers and other traditionally skilled craftspeople. Plus, steam trains!


  • Ged Maybury: the first novel in his series Across the STonewind Sky was published in 2011. Very cool
  • fragrances: still trying to find the link, but the last Prometheus Bound event had a fragrance booth in attendance, that had specially created steampunk fragrances for sale.
  • Courier Mail: Brisbane steampunk has been featured, and we have just been asked to be interviewed again!
  • Steampunk HQ:Again in Oamaru, worth a look.
  • Weta: Home of Dr Grordbort’s Rayguns!

We are indeed everywhere, and are influencing more than just comic conventions. If anyone has any other groups or events or people or anything I should be promoting as Australian Steampunk let me know and I’ll update this list. What Stephanie has highlighted to me is that we are being unsuccessful in communicating to everyone just how many opportunities to join in steampunk there are. Maybe in a small way this blog can assist.

Also, I’m finding and buying the heck out of Stephanie’s books (or the collections that contain her books). Yes I’m aware one of the collections is Steampunk Lesbian Stories, even if I’m not the target audience good stories are good stories. Support the steampunk!

1) arbitrary alliteration addendum accrual (2)
2) continued copied commencement character count (3)
3) ..sorry, stopping. Seriously (4)
4) damnit.

Published by Professor von Explaino

Review, steampunk

My thoughts are similar to other thoughts, however it appears that you must write a blog post about Bieber’s Christmas song in order to keep your steampunk license, so here goes.

Bieber’s music isn’t in my taste rainbow. I’m a Weird Al, Dresden Dolls, Tom Smith, Da Vinci’s Notebook kind of guy. My steampunk music tastes run through Sunday Driver, Clockwork Quartet and the Decemberists. So there’s not much point me commenting directly on the song itself (note, subtle foreshadowing!)

The set? I like it. It starts off with clockworks and is an industrial complex for making Christmas presents. You don’t get much more Industrial Revolution than that, they just needed to add more urchins. Seeing as this is tied in with Arthur Christmas, that makes sense too.

The outfits? Double plus like it. The clockwork girl is just magic, as are all the other dancers. I thank Kent Syfer Locke Gooch for pointing out that the Bieber one-glove is also a tie into his admiration for Michael Jackson; I had initially just thought it was a cool glove that he _actually used_. So I challenge the “stuck a cog on it” nature of his outfit.

The dancing? Again, the clockwork girl here stole the whole show for me. She just played it magnificently; but that said all the other dancers did a fine, fine job with it. Breakdancing being the rebellious dancing of the steampunk downtrodden made great sense to me.

Now back to the song itself. No it’s not steampunk. But it’s a Christmas tradition in the western world to have some current pop idol do a nearly unrecognisable version of a Christmas classic. So, again, Bieber is playing to type.

In summary, I thank Bieber’s agents for thinking steampunk would be a cool idea. Because really, steampunk is cool. I like it. Why should I be surprised if others like it? They’re allowed to like it for different reasons. And if they do start running around claiming that Bieber is the one to thank for starting steampunk; then we can just have fun with it.

There was a call for submissions to a Steampunk Shakespeare anthology in 2010, I made a comment on Twitter about “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Reanimated”. There was enough amused responses that I wrote something up. I spoke to one of the editors of the anthology and they said they were only taking Real Shakespeare plays and sonnets, so my parody wasn’t going to make it in. Still, I was amused enough to finish it, ask some friends for feedback, and finally here it is. Please let me know what you think.


*The stage is dark.  Lights come on to show the heads of GUILDENSTERN [G] and ROSENCRANTZ [R].*

R: Heads… Heads… Heads… Heads…
G: You’re not still going on about that?
R: Huh?  No, along that wall, top shelf.  Nothing but –
G: Heads.

*The top of the stage lights up, showing the two are in a MAD SCIENTIST LABORATORY.  Devices line the walls and, just as R says, the top shelf is full of heads in jars.  The bottom of the stage remains in shadow.  The two remain stationary and only their heads are in view.*

G: A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his own head, on seeing such a thing.
R (*examines his own head with his hands, which are wearing different sleeves, and then G’s*): Heads… still here.
G: What about the rest of us?

R: What?
G: Currently we’re just
R: Heads?

R: But if the heads are here, surely the rest of us is.
G: How can you tell?
R: I thought you were the philosophical one?
G: I’m the one who’s noticing the rest of us is in darkness.
R (*looks down*): Ah.
G: And we’re in a mad scientist’s laboratory.

*There are furtive gestures.*

R: Game?
G: I have no coins to flip
R: Maybe it’s my turn?
G: Do you have coins?
R: Yes, my second right hand found them in my pouch
G: Oh good, at least *beat* what?
R: Ah, a switch

*The switch is thrown and, to a cascade of sparks and flickers, the whole of stage is lit.  R and G are in fact two heads on one body, with four arms and a conglomerate of their clothing and a cavalcade of pipes, bubbling fluid, and an egg timer.*

G: Your second right hand.
R: Yes.
G: Is my second right hand.
R: Yes.
G: … There is a lot less screaming than I expected.
R: And my beard hasn’t grown, *examines* but my fingernails have!
G: A lot more awake then I expected.
R: It’s more roomy than being asleep in a box.

G: This must mean something
R: Besides the redistribution of limbs?
G: Yes.  I guess we were right to be fearful of being too late.
R: Is this ‘late’ beyond “The Late Rosencrantz and Guildenstern”?
G: Well I don’t remember being “the late”, but I remember almost being “the late” and then it was dark.
R: And then we were heads.
G: Ahead?
R: Each ahead.
G: Ahead of what?
R: Being the late.

R: It certainly looks like a mad scientist’s laboratory.
G: You know what science looks like?
R: Yes.
*R looks around, picks up a piece of brass with a cog on it*

R: Science.
G: A circular thing on a flat thing.
R: A circular thing with knobbly bits.
G: But what does it do?
R: Do?


G: Circular things with knobbly bits spin against other… circular things with knobbly bits or perhaps long loops also with knobbly bits.  They move things, and why do I hear laughter?
R (*ignoring G’s last sentance*): So knobbly bits are important.
G: Yes.  I think it is time to employ the scientific approach again.
R: As that worked so well for us before.
G: Hush.  Syllogism the first for today.  One: science is meant to do things.  Two: A circular thing with knobbly bits is built for the purpose of doing things.  Synopsis: a circular thing with knobbly bits stuck to a flat thing doesn’t do anything.
R: It looks good though.  Looks like science.
G (*sarcastic*): So looking like science is science.
R: Why would you do science that doesn’t look like science?
G: The scientific approach …
R: to the examination of phenomena is a defence against the pure emotion of fear.
G (*shocked*): where did you hear that?
R: I don’t remember.
G: … We return to the scientific approach.  Our last memories have been under the influence of un-, sub- or super-natural forces.  First probability, then causality and now locality.  This is likely the culmination of all the un-, sub- or super-natural occurrences.  Or possibly, un-, sub- AND super-natural.  In the state that we are in, given the laughter I’m sure I’m hearing, either we’re mad or everything else is mad, and I’m not sure which is worse.
R: It might not be everything else, it might be everything.  But if everything’s mad, doesn’t that mean everything’s on the same level, and thus, sane?

G: I’m reminded.  Second syllogism.  One, we have never known anything like this.  Two, we have just been through something I should very much like to write home about.  Three… three… What’s the last thing you remember?
R: What you just said.
G: No, the last thing you remember before this.
R: Ah.  Nothing good, everything went black and you were still talking.  Not a long time ago.  That and the laughter
*by now the laughter is audible*
G: Laughter?  That was before?
R: No, it’s now.  Outside the door

*The door to the right of stage is flung open and in walks the [S]CIENTIST, who is followed in by the CREATURES.  A [F]RANKENSTEIN MONSTER, a [C]LOCKWORK GIRL, a [B]RAIN IN A JAR (carried), and an [I]GOR.*

S *(finishes his laughter*): They’re awake!

*R & G squirm as if trying to get up.*

S: Don’t move!
R: Why do I feel like we’ve been here before?
G (*holds up all four arms, sarcastic*): I think I’d remember this before.
R: How do you know you think?

*G is given pause, S is exasperated*

S: Gentlemen, please.
G: I don’t suppose you do a selection of gory romances with fine cadence and corpses
S: Well, *points to F* he’s made of fine corpses, does that count?  And don’t get up I know you were Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
R&G: Were?
S: Yes, now you are Guildencrantz.  Or Rosenstern.  *turns to I* You know, I really thought this would have cleared things up somewhat.

G & R struggle to their feet.

R (*brandishes the copper and cog*): What is your line?
S: Science!  And the perversion of the natural order therein.  A little biology there, a little mechanology there; steam, gears, clockwork and grease.  Phrenology for getting ahead and posteriology for being behind.  *he taps on the CREATURES as he goes* [F]Grave robbing and cross stitch, [C]intricate mechanisms and buffing metal, [B]chemistry and biological aesthetics, … [I]and him.
R: What do they do?
S: Let your imagination run riot.  They are beyond surprise.
G (*waves R back*): And how much?
S: To take part?
G: No. To build
S: Watch- … wait, what?

G: I mean, look at this place.  This would take several fortunes, the work of a score, no, four score and seven specialised teams to build and maintain.  And you did it all?
S: All.  I don’t think you understand –
G: Not only that, but how do you keep this place running?  Maintained, I mean, look at him *points at B*.  Do you directly keep his tank clean?
S: Well, I have a girl that comes in on Sundays.
G: A maid keeps everything clean and running.
S: She’s very clever.

_G takes the copper and cog from R and throws it at S.  Whether it hits or not is up to fate and the skills of the actors_

S: Hey!
G: That’s not science.  It’s set dressing.
S: It has to look the part, image is very important
G: To science
S: To steampunk
R: Oh good, I’m starving

S: Not steamed punk
R: Oh.  I’m sure I’d eat it, regardless of what punk is.
G: But where is the steam, then?
S: It’s implied.
G: Nonsense.  He *pointing at F* is breathing, she *pointing at C* is clicking, it *pointing at B* is bubbling and he *pointing at I* is drooling.
I: Sorry.
R: What, no lisp?
I (*looks offended*)
R: I don’t know why I asked that.

S (*excitedly, nodding at R*): Exactly!  The steam is implied, this is powered by convention.
R: Two people in one body isn’t conventional.
S: Depends on the conventions you visit.
R: Let me guess, the ones with Airship pirates

*offstage: Well I not be coming in now, be I? I’m off to the pub.

_All experiments look at each other and leave_

S: I lose more companions that way.
R: Look, I’m sor-
S: *exasperated* No, you look. You just saw an animated corpse, a metal woman, a brain in a jar and a whateverthing walk into a bar. Well, towards one.
R: Is this some kind of joke?
S: Only to those who don’t know the punchline.
G: How does that work?
S: Comedy and tragedy, if it’s happening to you it’s tradg-
G: NOT what passes for your jokes, the science behind your “creations”
S: Steam? Whateveryouwantium? The raw scientific potential of painting something copper and sticking a cog on it?
R: But why? Was it all for this? We weren’t fore-warned so now we’re four-armed?
S: Ah. But “Why”‘s not the question we ask here.
R: Oh?
S: Yes. It’s why not? Airships for all ages and empires; exploration by dimensions, mole-machines, rockets and penny-shillings.
R: Penny-shillings?
S: *aside* inflation. Epic battles, romances by the score, exotic locales and foreign worlds; Climactic science and good versus evil gone wrong. Only occasionally and entirely by accident, wayward experimentation blocking out parts of the sun-

_Scientist’s half of the stage cuts to black_

R: …
G: …
R: That’s it, then, is it?
G: We’re not dead this time.
R: … I wonder if he can give me a metal arm with guns in it
_R fades out_
G: So much for knowing better next time. Best three out of five?
_G fades out, leaving only a single light on a cog that is affixed against the wall over the door. It falls with the sound of metal hitting someone one the head.  Scientist goes ‘Ow’, revealing a clue._

G: Well that mistook fell upon the inventor’s head
S: Oh go kiss a boiler.