Tuesday, November 27, 2012

VIDEO: Professor Elemental: I'm British

Professor Elemental's video I'm British from the new album Father of Invention. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Have Your Heart: Crabapple, Boekbinder & Batt

Illustration ©Molly Crabapple

Illustration ©Molly Crabapple
Illustration ©Molly Crabapple

I almost forgot about this project simply because of the length of time it took to complete, so was happy to see the post on Boing Boing about it being finished.  It's really amazing!

I've included the video below but you should head over to Boing Boing to read the interview with illustrator Molly Crabapple, musician Kim Boekbinder, and animator Jim Batt -- also to see more wonderful backstage images.

An excerpt from the I Have Your Heart Website:

In 2010 Molly Crabapple & Kim Boekbinder schemed a scheme to make an animation with Crabapple's amazing art and Boekbinder's delicious music. They found Batt, or Batt found them, and a collaboration of beauty, joy, and unbounded creativity was born.

You can also buy the music and other merch at the I Have Your Heart Store.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jordan Stratford: Mechanicals

Jordan Stratford Mechanicals Cover Art by Aly Fell

*We're doing something different around here today and have an actual interview for you!

Mechanicals Interview with Steampunk Revue

Jordan Stratford is a West Coast author with the top-funded steampunk project on kickstarter to date: the Middle Grade series Wollstonecraft featuring Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley as girl detectives in 1826.

Today he's answering questions about his Crimean War adventure, Mechanicals, available at Amazon.

Can you tell us a little about Mechanicals?

It's a really fun, old-fashioned adventure story: a steampunk take on the Crimean War. Imagine the Charge of the Light Brigade with giant robots and demon-cultists. And a secret society trying to keep a lid on things that go bump in the night, along with the first airship crossing of the Pacific, which is really a gun-running operation.

The book is a kind of pastiche of the "Boys' Own Adventure" style colonial propaganda / revisionist history popular at the turn of the last century. Except that ninety percent of the book and its characters are entirely and accurately historical. We meet George Merryweather who used leeches to predict storms, and Tolstoy and Florence Nightingale, Emperor Norton, Samuel Colt, Lord Cardigan, Madame Blavatsky, and the Fox sisters who kicked of the Spiritualism craze of the 19th century. Lots of nods to history buffs, all in a "ripping yarn" style.

Is it Young Adult?

I've sometimes called it that only to broaden the audience of the book. It's totally appropriate for teenage readers, but so too are any adventure stories set in that world. It's YA if Haggard is YA, or if Kipling is YA, so far as content goes. Can you enjoy its at fourteen? Sure. Can you enjoy it at sixty-four? Of course. There's an interesting conversation within steampunk as a genre regarding the extent to which the YA label applies or doesn't.

What are the mechanicals in the title?

It's a double meaning. It refers to the eighteen-foot-tall walking steam locomotives – machine-gun-toting steam-mecha, which make up the "new" face of British cavalry, particularly the Eleventh Hussars in the story. But the term also applies to the most basic of actors, living props really, in early theatre. They're on the stage and roughly going through the motions. So it's about the characters themselves, none of whom signed up for the war, but who do what they can in the circumstances in which they find themselves. They're not the architects of their actions any more than are the robots they run around in.

With you as a 21st century author, how did you cope with the 19th century roles of race and gender in the book?

I think the "punk" in steampunk means subverting the representation of 19th century values and bias and playing with it for the purposes of storytelling. I think we can play with the optimism and naiveté of the period without glossing over the cost of colonialism. Punk is after all about the appropriation of status symbols for and by the underclass – so the genre gives you lots of room without idolizing the era or reverting to historical myopia.

The steampunk frame of reference is to take something apart and recombine it so that it's yours, or your ideal of that thing. We can do that with history, with historical imposition of roles upon race and gender. I tried to keep things both contemporaneous and respectful, while acknowledging there have always been outliers. Adventurers aren't expected to dress for dinner, necessarily, and mad scientists are, well, mad.

Certainly one of the heroines, a sixteen year old daughter of Greek merchants who finds herself plucked from the streets of London, confronts and exploits the expectations of Victorian womanhood. One of the minor characters is referred to as a "Negro porter", and I went out to my network to test this word, which is the most respectful self-identifier of the period. The book is set decades before "coloured" or "person of colour" was a term at all, and Dr. King referred to himself as a Negro. But I was very careful to gauge the opinions of members of cultures depicted, and I did this by asking and listening. My "out" is that all my major characters are utterly pragmatic – it's not that they don't have their prejudices and biases, but they just don't have time to make any allowances for them. My protagonist, an "accidentally immortal" Anglican priest has tremendous respect for Arab culture and history, for example.

Let's talk more about the story.

As per the serials of the period I'm imitating, there are three parallel stories which converge, and the POV changes chapter by chapter to tell each story. The first is that of an Anglican priest who's a demon-hunter, and fears that the coming war will unearth things that are best left alone. He's accompanied by his sixteen-year-old protégée who's really living outside the bubble she thought was her fate for the first time. Ahead of the army, they're looking to keep certain alchemical secrets from falling into the wrong hands.

The second arc is that of a young reporter who accompanies Samuel Colt on the first tempestuous airship crossing between Russian America and Siberia, in order to run thousands of rifles to the Tsar for the war. The third story is that of a reluctant cavalry officer, who's named after my great grandfather who actually was an officer in the newly-mechanized Hussars. It really tells the hurry-up-and-wait aspect of warfare, of the devastating impact of cholera on the allied forces, and how the age of mechanization changed the culture of war forever. The Crimea really was the first mechanical conflict and served as a kind of lethal laboratory for the technology which was so cruelly inflicted on the United States during the Civil War.

What kind of research did you do to prepare for the book?

It's amazing to live in a time when if you need to see a certain weapon, or uniform, or train or coin or 3D terrain map it's all available to you instantly. I put myself in every scene and ran through my senses – what would this room smell like, sound like? What is every surface made of and how did it get in the room? So there's a whole layer of set-dec that goes into each page. And certainly while I've accelerated the technology, the underpinnings are all there. Electricity, submarines, engine-driven airships, machine-guns – all of these existed well before the outbreak of the Crimean War. I've simply played "what if" and tried to keep the convergence of the tech as realistic as possible while remaining true to the military history. Not saying I didn't cheat when necessary–I had to put the railway into Bulgaria about 20 years ahead of history, for example. But ninety percent of it is as accurate as I could make it, drawing from primary sources.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

It was a simple enough business decision for this title. I have a background in all the components of publishing: marketing, design, layout, and I've worked at practically every control-surface of the industry. So while I had (greatly appreciated) small-press offers for this book, it was easier for me to get it directly to readers via kindle. I just see self-publishing as one tool in the drawer among many, and certainly my other books will continue to reside at their respective presses. My Wollstonecraft series, for instance, has interest from Big 6 (Big 5 now, I suppose) publishers to take it global, and can do more for those books than I can do on my own.

Self-publishing has been framed as the first choice for authors, and I wouldn't recommend it in that context, honestly. It's far better to work with small presses, work with different editors, and keep your product quality high. But once you have the contacts for PR, for book and cover design, for editors you respect and trust, at that point you are a small press and have all the workload that entails. Most authors don't want to do all that, they just want to write, in which case self-publishing isn't necessarily the best route. That being said, it's a perfectly legitimate strategy should all the components align. Half of all e-books are read on laptops, and it's interesting that most e-books are read by people who don't have e-readers. And at $2.99 it's cheaper than Starbucks. I make the same royalty as I would with a larger publisher, but the price point to the reader is much, much lower.

Can we expect a sequel to Mechanicals?

Yes, sometime next year. I've committed to writing more Wollstonecraft books before I can return to the world of Mechanicals, but there are some plot points I want to resolve. The villain in the story is very much in the background, and I only drop hints as to who he is, so I want to give him some more time in the spotlight. A secondary theme of Mechanicals is about playing your part and how ultimately powerless that makes you, and the next book will be about what happens when playing your part is no longer possible, and powerlessness is not an option. The characters get a taste of that in the first book, but I really want to turn up the heat in that regard, and I have the perfect setting for it, so I can't wait.

For the month of November, be sure to take advantage of the introductory price at Amazon.

Jordan Stratford has been pronounced clinically dead, and was briefly mistakenly wanted by INTERPOL for international industrial espionage. He is an ordained priest, has won numerous sword fights, jaywalked across the streets of Paris, San Franciso, and Sao Paolo, and was once shot by a stray rubber bullet in a London riot. He lives on a tiny windswept Pacific island populated predominantly by realtors and carnivorous gulls.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The World of Steam

-- The World of Steam is a set of Twilight Zone-like episodes set in a Steampunk universe. From swashbuckling heroes and corseted heroines to mad scientists and demons with identity crises, the World of Steam has it all! --

Shut up and take my money! This Kickstarter looks INCREDIBLE -- I don't think they'll have any trouble reaching their goal. Check out The World of Steam's website for behind the scenes footage and information about this promising project.

The Steampunk Museum

©Steampunk Museum Logo Design by Zandra Stratford

This project has been under wraps for several months and I'm delighted to be able to share it with you finally. My friend Kevin, The Airship Ambassador has been working hard to launch The Steampunk Museum. I did the logo design and art direction for the website, and can't wait until the grand vision is implemented. This is sure to be a fantastic resource for all things steampunk.

The beta site is up just in time for a soft launch at SteamCon this coming weekend. Please have a look and be sure to bookmark it so you don't miss anything. You can also stay connected via Twitter (@steampunkmuseum) and on Facebook.

Here is the original concept design for the website so you can see where it's going. Have a look and let us know what you think!

©Steampunk Museum Art Direction by Zandra Stratford
©Steampunk Museum Art Direction by Zandra Stratford

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hullabaloo: James Lopez

Hullabaloo Character Sketches ©James Lopez
Hullabaloo Character Sketches ©James Lopez
Hullabaloo Blueprints ©James Lopez
Hullabaloo Screen Cap ©James Lopez
Hullabaloo Screen Cap ©James Lopez
Hullabaloo Screen Cap ©James Lopez

I'm really liking the look of this project by Animator James Lopez. You can definitely see the big mouse influence that is also apparent in Brian Kesinger's work but I think it's wonderful, and am excited to watch this develop.

Here is a work in progress clip and you can keep up to date on the project over on Facebook.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oz: The Great and Powerful

via YouTube: In Theaters March 8, 2013

Disney's fantastical adventure "Oz The Great and Powerful," directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Steampunk Project: Mini Cooper Countryman

I was just thinking today that it has been entirely too long since I've blogged. Then I saw this absolutely breathtaking photo of the Steampunk Mini Cooper Countryman on Pinterest (via Mystic Pieces) and I knew it was just the thing to get me back. The design project is from Carlex Design Europe (via Clockwerker)

I don't even know where to start here, but perhaps wiping my chin might be a good place. Just. WOW. I used to drive a Mini Cooper before we moved to the country and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss driving ChaCha (that was her name) every single day.

The design and execution of this work is just stunning, I personally would love to see a version that incorporated some woodwork, but honestly, if I had the means I would happily buy this car as is. Seriously, it's taken me forever to write this post because I keep scrolling back up to have another look, and I can't help picturing my little steampunk family bombing around in it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wollstonecraft: Kickstarter

Mary and Ada character sketch illustration © Claire Robertson of Loobylu
Clever husband and lovely friend are in cahoots... The potential of this idea is vast and awesome. Please have a look and if you like the idea, contribute what you can to support this project.

** Excerpt from Kickstarter **

London 1826: The Advent of the Steam Age

11 year old Ada has a problem: her governess, Miss Coverlet, has quit her job to go get married (a dumb idea if ever there was one, if you ask Ada) and her new tutor Percy ("Peebs") is a total drip.  She'd rather be left to her own devices – literally – inventing things and solving math problems and ignoring people altogether.

She's also forced to study alongside the imaginative girlie-girl Mary, who's always going on about romance and exotic travels.  Fortunately, Mary's appetite for adventure leads her to propose the two girls open a detective agency, and when an heiress shows up with a case about a missing diamond, it's the perfect puzzle to coax Ada out of her shell.

This is the made up story about two very real girls – Ada, the world's first computer programmer, and Mary, the world's first science fiction author – caught up in a steampunk world of hot-air balloons and steam engines, jewel thieves and mechanical contraptions.  For readers 8-12.

This is a pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems and catch a jewel thief.  Ada and Mary encounter real historical characters, such as Percy Shelley, Charles Babbage, Michael Faraday, and Charles Dickens – people whom the girls actually knew.  If Jane Austen wrote about zeppelins and brass goggles, this would be the book.

Why "Wollstonecraft"?  Mary names the detective agency after her mother, the famous feminist writer. If this is the kind of book you'd like to see, please support this project.

About the Author:

Jordan Stratford has been pronounced clinically dead, and was briefly mistakenly wanted by INTERPOL for international industrial espionage. He is an ordained priest, has won numerous sword fights, jaywalked across the streets of Paris, San Franciso, and Sao Paolo, and was once shot by a stray rubber bullet in a London riot. He lives on a tiny windswept Pacific island populated predominantly by realtors, and carnivorous gulls.

"Wollstonecraft" is his second novel.

"Stratford is the Archduke of Canadian Steampunk" – Cherie Priest

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Michael Dooney: 1887 Age of Steam Superwomen

Huntress ©Michael Dooney
Death ©Michael Dooney
Catwoman ©Michael Dooney
Wonder Woman ©Michael Dooney
Lady Zatanna ©Michael Dooney
This is a great collection of classic comic book women in an 1887 Victorian style, by comic artist Michael Dooney (who is the cover artist for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Visit his entire collection on deviant-art. I think the Steampunk Huntress is my favourite, but I'll admit to having a soft spot for Death.

Via io9

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cassia Harries: Steampunk Munny

Steampunk Gargoyle © Cassia Harries
Steampunk Gargoyle © Cassia Harries
Steampunk Dragon © Cassia Harries
Steampunk Dragon © Cassia Harries
From Cassia Harries, the "Dark Skies" collection currently in development. These guys are made using Super Sculpey over a Munny and are painted with acrylic paint. Stands 4 1/2 inches tall. via Creature Spot.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Victoria Steam Exposition III: Poster Art

VSEIII- Poster Art ©Zandra Stratford

Steampunk is the collision of history, technology, imagination, and attitude. Nineteenth-century sensibilities with impossible Jules-Verne-inspired technology. Teak-panelled computers, corsets and jetpacks, top hats and rayguns.

April 20th to 22nd, 2012, for the third year in a row, Victoria, British Columbia, will host an art-happening of steampunk art, tech, fashion, music, architecture, and story.

The show's literary headliners this year are Hugo Award winner Ann Vandermeer, and The Steampunk Bible's Hugo and Nebula nominee Jeff Vandermeer; Abney Park's Kristina Erickson and Captain Robert Brown, author of The Wrath of Fate.  Our featured artist is Ian Finch Field, who's incredible leather and brass creations have been featured in 1000 Steampunk Creations and international music videos.

More on VSE III can be found on the website.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gail Carriger: Timeless~ Parasol Protectorate Book the Last

Timeless by Gail Carriger

It's been awhile since we've had a book up here but the release of Gail Carriger's latest in the Parasol Protectorate series deserves a spot here. I just got the iBook version of Timeless and have been thoroughly enjoying it so far. I'm pacing myself a little because it's the end of the Alexia series.

Also, Soulless has been re-invisioned as Manga, the artwork looks wonderful, you can get more peaks over on Gail's blog.

Soulless  The Manga Vol 1

Author Bio: (via Amazon)
New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London.

The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless (March 2012). Soulless won the ALA's Alex Award A manga version with release in Spring 2012. She is currently writing young adult books set in the same universe ~ the Finishing School series (Feb. 2013). Soon she will begin a new adult series, The Parasol Protectorate Abroad (Fall 2013).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dr. Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game

Dr Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game from Media Design School on Vimeo.

Excerpt from the Weta website.. Greg Broadmore has worked at Weta Workshop as a concept designer and creator of worlds for over 8 years.

In 2006, Weta revealed their Dr. Grordbort's Rayguns range, entirely designed and conceptualised by Greg. Dr Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators blew up across the Internet and was embraced by Wired magazine, Boing Boing, IO9 and others. He has since gone on to launch an internationally touring Dr Grordbort's Exceptional Exhibition, write two critically acclaimed books in this retro-science fiction universe, and is currently expanding the world into new creative frontiers.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Edwardian Ball 2012: The Iron Tonic

Why I love San Francisco, reason #813 –The Edwardian Ball is an annual event. Plans must be made to attend next year... The 2012 video produced by Mark Day is an extraordinary visual feast (as usual.)

Here is the video from 2011 too...

And finally, head over to their Flickr stream for more stunning images like the one below. Swoon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Well this looks like ridiculous fun... Based on the book by Seth Grahame Smith (of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.) Movie trailer and painfully awesome book trailer below. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Riese: Kingdom Falling

A long overdue post... Riese: Kingdom Falling takes place in Eleysia, a dying kingdom where distrust and anxiety have clouded people's minds, causing a regression into primitive ways of thinking. Rituals and mythology have resurged, and the darker side of mankind has begun to reveal itself. Riese, a wanderer, travels across the decaying land with her wolf, Fenrir. Marked as a heretic by religious group The Sect and the new Empress, Riese must evade their assassins and discover their true intentions for Eleysia.

This series is shot in Vancouver, BC and it looks like the first book in a novel series to be published by Simon and Schuster, is scheduled to come out in June 2012.

AND there is an iPhone/iPod/iPad app narrated by Felicia Day to check out. Trailer for season 2 below.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brian Kesinger's Tea Girls

"Flight" Chamomile Tint ©Brian Kesinger
"Samisen" Green Tea Tint ©Brian Kesinger 

Darjeeling ©Brian Kesinger
Chamomile ©Brian Kesinger

Earl Grey ©Brian Kesinger

Brian Kesinger's Tea Girls I absolutely love everything about these illos and the process of how they were created. They are first illustrated in ink, hand tinted with tea (the name under each print is the type of tea used) then finished with watercolour –Amaze!

You can buy these as marvelous prints via Clockwork Couture all images are ©Brian Kesinger.