Using Visual Models for Effective WorldBuilding

The first season of The Frankenstein Chronicles hits the mark for a work that is not steampunk and has a lot to offer those who want to learn about effective worldbuilding.

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Review: Nikola Tesla and the End of the World

Nikola Tesla and the End of the World Blurb When physicist Sophie Clarke builds a strange machine from long-lost scientific plans she unwittingly transports Nikola Tesla to modern-day London. Unfortunately Tesla brings another historical figure along with him: an autocratic automaton. Two brilliant scientists. A slightly unhinged enemy from the future. This could lead to…

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Sunless Skies Victorian Steampunk LitRPG Launches on Steam

After playing and reviewing Fallen London (read the review here) I eagerly awaited the next LitRPG game from Failbetter Games.  Sunless Skies launches on Steam Early Access on August 30, 2017. By the time this post publishes, it should have been available for about 12 hours. For the first week, the game will be available for…

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A Steampunk Writer’s Resource: The Victorian City

The Victorian City delves into the history of the era and provides a good base for any writer interested in creating a steampunk novel with Victorian undertones. I recommend it as a great place to start your research.

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From This City of Nightmares . . .

In 1987 K.W. Jeter coined the term “steampunk” in a letter to Locus magazine. Jeter used the term to qualify the neo-Victorian writings that he, James Blaylock, and Tim Powers, were producing. This term was in part a play on the term “cyberpunk,” which was a popular genre in the late 1980s. Steampunk is a genre of speculation, whether it is set in an alternative version of Victorian England, in an alternative American West, in a future where steam power rather than electrical current runs the world, or in a fantasy setting where steam power is in mainstream use. It owes a debt of gratitude for its creation to such authors as Jules Verne, Mary Shelly, and H.G. Wells: Their works are speculative and include many of the aspects that readers now associate with modern steampunk novels. In terms of world building, though, the genre owes an even larger debt to Charles Dickens and his depiction of Victorian England.

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Fallen London

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…

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Steampunk is More Than Its History

Is it necessary to have read H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine or Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to understand the steampunk aesthetic? Does anyone who attends an event dressed in Western steampunk attire need to view all of John Ford’s movies about the Old West and every episode of the Wild Wild West before partaking? Or is this prior knowledge only a part—a foundation—that can add to a person’s appreciation?

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Neil Gaiman’s Tribute to Lovecraft & Sherlock Holmes

In the preface to the collection, Gaiman (2006) explains that he found this to be a unique challenge because the two styles are very much polar opposites. The character of Sherlock Holmes is logical, scientific, and rational. The focus is on solving mysteries and presenting celebrated solutions. Lovecraft’s works proceed on a different basis. Many of his creations were deeply illogical and maintaining the mysteries helped keep humanity sane. “If I was going to tell a story that combined both elements,” Gaiman (2006, pp. 4-5) writes, “There had to be an interesting way to do it that played fair with both Lovecraft and with the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

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Mechanica: Book Review

Mechanica, by Betsy Cornwell, is a young adult steampunk retelling of the Cinderella tale.   Mechanica, like other modern fairy tale adaptations (Wicked, Maleficent, Frozen) present a strong female character in Nicolette, who is derisively named “Mechanica” by her stepsisters. Like other versions of the Cinderella tale, the mother dies, the father remarries, and then he…

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A Revolution in Printing: How A Steam-Powered Press Changed the World

When discussing steam-powered machines and the Victorian Era, many focus on the revolutionary additions made to travel. Steam-powered locomotives or ships are considered groundbreaking innovations that helped to shape the course of our world. Yet another steam-powered ingenious device created during the reign of Queen Victoria had what some would consider an even larger impact on the world: A steam-powered printing press revolutionized the print industry and improved the literacy rate throughout the western hemisphere.

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Book Review: The Victorian Steam Locomotive: It’s Design & Development 1804-1879

In the forward to G. D. Dempsey and D. K. Clarke’s (2015) The Victorian Steam Locomotive: It’s Design & Development 1804-1879, Dr. Pete Waterman begins by stating that even people who are enthusiastic about the age of steam power can sometimes be blasé about its history. It is hard in this day and age of technological wonders to comprehend the magnitude of the innovative process behind the development of the steam engine. In just over 90 years we moved from the simple idea of boiling water, to making steam to generate power, to the steam engine we know to this day. As Waterman explains, the engine design has not significantly changed since the Victorian era; it has been tweaked here and there, but essentially remains the same. For those of us who are steam train enthusiasts, we might say that it is hard to improve on perfection!

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Steampunk Sculptors Creating Art Through Recycling

Using recycled materials in art is not a new concept, but steampunk sculptors seem to be discovering innovative means of harnessing the abundant source of raw materials provided by the current culture’s disposable lifestyle. As steampunk sculptor Aaron Ristau explains, “products are obsolete within an ever decreasing amount of time, putting an increasing strain on our ability to deal with man-made waste” (qtd. in Von Slatt, 2009). The range of art being created is a testament to the creativity of artists who make use of “stuff” that had had a life already—a life that is often far removed from art.

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The Language of Flowers: A Victorian Tradition

For centuries people have attributed meanings to flowers, herbs, and various plants. Interest in floriography, or the language of flowers, soared during the reign of Queen Victoria. This cryptologic style of floral communication could “say” what members of the society dared not speak aloud: the rigid social constrictions of the upper class helped to create a “language” that is indeed beautiful to behold.

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Interview with Steampunk Author Kara Jorgensen: Creative & Professional Writing

Kara Jorgensen is an independent author with two highly successful steampunk novels—The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden—and a novella—An Oxford Holiday—in her Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Her newest novel, The Earl and the Artificer, will be released on January 30, 2016. But the publication of this novel is unusual; it also serves as the Master’s Thesis for her MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. Not only did Jorgensen have the clamoring voices of her fans demanding the next installment in the series when she was writing, but her thesis advisor adding pressure as well!

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Review: The Best of Spanish Steampunk

I received this anthology as a gift and opened it with a great deal of anticipation. Short, speculative fiction has been my favorite genre for many years and reading an entire anthology of steampunk stories would be a treat on a cold winter day. But as I read, I found myself to be puzzled: there were ghost stories, gaslight romances, alternate histories, and references to Victorian authors and their creations, but very few elements that reflect the steampunk aesthetic.

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The Asylum: Steampunk Destination Travel

Looking for an unusual steampunk-themed travel destination for 2016?

Billed as the largest and longest running steampunk festival in the world, the Asylum takes place this year August 26th to August 29th in the historic City of Lincoln (“Welcome to the Asylum, 2015). Many of the venues that house festival activities have ties to Victorian England and lend an authentic sense of time/place to a festival which celebrates, in part, a reimagining of that era. But steampunk is more than a neo-Victorian celebration, and additions like a costume parade, professional tea dueling, “illicit” market, and craft zones add flair to the proceedings.

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Steampunk Tea Parties: A Holiday Tradition

Steampunk-themed tea parties are particularly popular in North America during the winter. Knowing a bit about the history of tea and the rituals surrounding its consumption can help a participant enjoy the experience. There are also some traditional resources and touches of whimsy that can help you host a party of your own.

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Relishing Tart Berries & a Wicked Duke

Emma Lane is here with her delicious and easy recipe. The kitchen is all yours, Emma! Hi Everyone. My family insists upon this favorite every holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas. If I get my hands on fresh berries, I serve it when it is not a holiday. It sounds difficult, but is anything but. It’s one…

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Steampunk Coloring Books & Events

Coloring is an activity that many people would associate with childhood, but recently the activity has found a different demographic. Adult coloring books are topping bestsellers’ list worldwide, but it is not simply due to the enjoyment of the activity. Medical researchers have studied the therapeutic properties that the simple act of coloring in a drawing can provide; these health benefits include a decrease in stress and anxiety. And there are a wide variety of books available, including those dedicated to steampunk.

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Research Can be a Fun Part of Writing Fiction

Most books require research to make them accurate, even if you are writing science fiction or fantasy; these story worlds still need to feel believable and logical to the readers. Most works include at least one or two aspects outside of the author’s personal experiences or knowledge. This information—these details—help to get the readers wrapped up in the story.

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Masks, Anonymity, and Excess

My new article for The Pandora Society: Geared Towards Speculative Fiction Masks were originally part of the regalia for religious rituals and early theater in Europe. The fashion of wearing masks as an accessory did not make its way to the Continent until the early 1570’s when Italian courtesans began wearing stylish face coverings in…

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Writing Villains into a Story

I like reading advice on writing from other authors. Many times I find really great ideas that help improve my own writing abilities. For example, in On Writing, Stephen King (2001) recommends listening to music to help a writer block out the world and focus on the work at hand. Readers of this blog will…

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Midwestern Travels–Broadhead, Wisconsin

I wanted to share just a few photos from my travels to Broadhead, Wisconsin. It is a wonderful town near where I live with a rich history and a very nice state trail. I think it is important to celebrate our own little corners of the world. There is beauty and history all around. We just have to look for it!

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Review: The Caelimane Operation by Chris Pavesic

Another terrific review of The Caelimane Operation. Thank you to Ky Grabowski for taking the time to read and review my novel. This type of feedback is wonderful for all authors!

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Steampunk Ghostbuster Proton Packs

I was watching a report on the new Ghostbusters movie today and remembered this wonderful post on Steampunk Ghostbusters. It would be interesting if the new movie went retro instead of futuristic and incorporated some of these ideas!

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The Crystal Palace: Victorian Era Science, Technology, & Industry at its Best

The Crystal Palace, a giant glass and iron exhibition hall built in Hyde Park, housed the 1851 Great Exhibition of The Works of Industry of All Nations. Many consider this remarkable structure to be one of the touchstones of Victorian England—an intrinsic part of the cultural system that both shaped and reflected the nation’s values. Sir Joseph Paxton’s design made such an impact in the field of architecture that replicas of the structure were built in Spain and the United States. Yet such were mainstream British attitudes toward foreign influence during the Victorian era that the construction of The Crystal Palace, and the Great Exhibition, almost didn’t occur.

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Review: Onyx City by P.J. Thorndyke

He brought to light the awful reality of the sweatshops where tailors stitched clothing for fourteen hours a day; dulling their eyesight, clogging up their lungs with stuffy air and cloth fibers, denied even the shortest of breaks so that their targets were met. Wives must bring them tea and bread and drop it down their throats while they continued to work. He spoke of the match girl’s strike of July, of their exposure to the terrible white phosphorus that rotted their jaws. The speaker even touched on the poor women who were so desperate that they must sell their bodies on the street and face murder at the hands of the demented individual who stalked Whitechapel by night.

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Nice Review on Goodreads

The Caelimane Operation received another nice review on Goodreads from fellow WP blogger Ky Grabowski! Excerpt: Chris Pavesic writes a hell of a in depth story. The Caelimane Operation is layered with history, connections and details you can miss if you blink too quick . . . See more here: Goodreads

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Grim Fandango: Lucas Arts Resurrects a Tale of the Dead

This week features the re-launch of Grim Fandango, Lucas Arts’ film noir style game for PC, Mac, and PlayStation. The release has been expanded and it is now also available for iPads, iPhones, and Androids. It has been more than fifteen years since the original release and, if you missed it the first time around, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this second chance to experience this visually stunning dark tale of the dead.

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Susan Lodge’s Recipe for Romance? A Quick Pasta Bake & Some Rebellious Cargo

Author Susan Lodge, is here with a delicious recipe that is easy and delicious. Take it away, Susan. The world moves faster now and we all have time crunches that take away from home cooking. But here is the perfect meal for when you are really pressed to feed the family. Quick Pasta Bake 300gm…

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Inhuman Lovers and Deadly Curiosity

The tale of Bluebeard has been adapted for the stage and the cinema just as often as tales of sleeping beauties and young women who cannot keep track of their shoes. Yet it is not a typical folk/fairy tale. Indeed, it is more akin to a modern horror film than to a Disney cartoon. It is a tale without a hero and, at best, can be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers inherent in sex (particularly with inhuman lovers), greed, and curiosity. The most recent adaptation, Ex Machina, plays with the typical themes in a Bluebeard-inspired tale and adds its own narrative twist, but creates an even darker version for modern audiences to enjoy.

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150 Years of Wonderland

There have been many versions of Alice’s story through the years, including (but not limited to) the Disney animated version, the Resident Evil franchise, and the most recent version by Tim Burton. The character of Alice has appeared in many different television programs, including Warehouse 13. The images of Alice and her Wonderland compatriots appear almost everywhere on household goods, clothing, and technology.

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Stolen Petals by Katherine McIntyre

SPOILERS AHEAD I enjoyed this novelette quite a bit. It is set in Victorian Era London and has a few touches of a steampunk world, including airships, innovative weapons, and small, brass globes that freeze when squeezed. The heroine, Viola, uses these globes while bartending to chill drinks without diluting the alcohol. Of course, bartending…

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Kadee McDonald: Bare Feet, Poetry, & Regency Romance

Kadee McDonald is visiting today with her new release An Arranged Valentine. This traditional Regency romance novella is a delightful read with strong and heartwarming characters. Miss Penelope Braxton has never met either sensible George Harburton or his more dashing younger brother, Henry, but she agrees to grant her dying father peace of mind by…

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Steampunk & Mimimalism: Quality and Beauty

I was browsing NPR and came across an article on steampunk called “Did Steampunk Forget The Meaning Of The Word Dickensian?” by J.J. Sutherland. This post is not about the article, but about the wonderful comment made in response to the article by Eben Mishkin. It reads in part: Steampunk is romanticized; it is not…

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Daniel Ausema’s Spire City: Book 2 and Book 3

Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group…

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