Category Archives: Steampunk Aesthetic

Anthology Kickstarter for ‘Once Upon a Future Time’

Link to ‘Once Upon a Future Time’Once Upon a Future Time

Want to see a fabulous anthology with me in it? Want to get in on the ground floor for discovering a new publisher? Here you go!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Anthology, Australian Author, Australian Steampunk Author, Kickstarter, Neo-Victorian Retrofuturism, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Feminist, Steampunk Genre, Writing Career

Guest Post by Karen Carlisle

The Department of Curiosities: The Aussie Connection

Karen Carlisle

WARNING… Some SPOILERS Ahead.

I started writing The Department of Curiosities in 2013. The story was set in busy, 1883 London, with very English heroes and villains. London was an easy choice of setting; just about everyone has either been there, read about it or seen versions of it in movies or on television. Most readers have developed a mental picture of Victorian era London. It’s crowded, noisy, full of mystery and potential danger. I could tap into that picture.

Like I said, it was easy to set The Department of Curiosities in London.

Image supplied by Karen Carlisle

But there weren’t many steampunk stories set in Australia – and I really wanted to write one…

But Queen Victoria plays a significant part in the story, and she never came to Australia…

But I really wanted to write Australian characters. Perhaps I could set some of the story here in Australia?

At the time, I kept reading articles bemoaning the state of Australian fiction: ‘readers weren’t interested in reading books about Australia.’ This annoyed me. A lot. I’m an Aussie author and I wanted to write Australian stories.

That was 2013.

In 2018, I picked up my (almost completed) original manuscript for The Department of Curiosities. I had a few ideas and plot snags to add, but I was still happy with the main story. After setting my last book, Aunt Enid, in Adelaide, I was determined to make The Department of Curiosities a more Australian story. Perhaps if I started the first book in England, and then transported the characters to Australia…?

I did some research. (Did you know South Australia has many scientific, medical, political and inventive ‘world firsts’ in history?) and decided to make Adelaide the ‘world hub’ for mechanical research at the time. Everything fell into place – a steampunk adventure that would take our heroine half way across the world, and back again!

Though most of the action in The Department of Curiosities is set in London or countryside England, there are several connections to Australia. Firstly, there’s Tillie.

Matilda (Tillie) Meriwether was born in Australia and spent her young childhood in Adelaide with her father. We first discover this when the General (Director of The Department of Curiosities meets Tillie for the first time and mentions her (almost lack of) accent.

Imaged supplied by Karen Carlisle

“I was aware Meriwether’s niece was Australian; I expected a Colonial accent. How long have you resided in England, my dear?” [said the General]

“Fifteen years; since I was a young child.”

“Ah, that explains it.”

Tillie bit her lip. No one usually bothered to check on family in the Colonies. She wasn’t sure how curious the Department was, and how exhaustively they would search.

 

(Until this time, most of the story is told in Tillie’s POV, and she wouldn’t notice her accent, would she?)

As we move through the story, there are more hints of Australian accents and connections, including The Department of Curiosities itself! Various discoveries suggest Tillie will find answers to her father’s secrets in Australia. This leads our heroine and her companions on a voyage to the other side of the world to Adelaide, South Australia. Much of the second book in the series will be set here.

 

In my steampunk/alternative history world, the word ‘mechanicals’ is used to describe any technology such as gadgets, contraptions, steam powered machines, clockwork machines. The use and ownership of mechanicals is regulated by Royal decree as Queen Victoria feels it isn’t in the Empire’s interest for the population to have access to such potentially dangerous items.

When Tillie arrives in South Australia, she discovers South Australia is a ‘new world’, full of gadgets, mechanicals, and few restrictions on their use and ownership. It’s home to The Conceptualisation Co-operative – a sort of think tank for ideas and inventions – attracting inventors, engineers and creators from all over the world. (We’ll find out more about this in the next book.)

And of course, the photographic work for the cover, social media cards and book trailers are all shot in and around Adelaide, including historical buildings such as The Largs Pier Hotel, who let us roam around their halls for a day of filming.

Image supplied by Karen Carlisle

1 Comment

Filed under Australian Author, Australian Steampunk Author, Karen Carlisle, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Feminist, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Themes, Uncategorized

Language Fun

Eine Balloonfarz

I had hoped that this meant ‘one balloon fart’. However, is appears that ‘fahrt’ means ‘ride’. In German, a fart is called a ‘furzt’ or ‘pupser’.

Sometimes it is more fun to not have a translation!

2 Comments

Filed under Descriptive Language, Language, Steampunk Aesthetic, Uncategorized

Neo-Victorian Movie Fashions – Part Three

 

 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula may not seem like a Steampunk movie on first viewing. But any movie with Doctor Abraham Van Helsing should be automatically slotted into the Steampunk genre, because he uses modern technology to fight vampires, such as electric lamps which could be attached to a prospective victim to act as a deterrent. He is also one of the original ‘mad scientists’ of the literary world – not the action figure portrayed in some movies and comics. (However, Carl from 2002 movie Van Helsing has my undying admiration for his gadgetry.)

mina-harker-green-walking-dress-03

Mina Harker’s green walking dress, worn by Winona Ryder and designed by the late Eiko Ishioka.

Dress designs for the movie were by Eiko Ishioka. There were many gorgeous dresses in this film, but my personal favourite is the green walking dress worn by Mina , played by Winona Ryder, the original Manic Pixie Girl. Dracula was written and set in the 1890s. It is the dress Mina is wearing when she first encounters Dracula.

replica

A fairly accurate replica of the dress, with which we can better see the details.

Since Dracula was published in 1897, we can use that as the benchmark time period for the  movie costume. The most striking feature of the dress is the clever use of pleats to add ornamental details; the fabric is folded like Origami. The multiple waterfall folds of the bustle creates contrasting diamonds of colour. The unusual dag hemline of the white blouse is accentuated with more pleats. Are these features historically accurate?

1875_toilette_de_courses

A waterfall pleat decorating a bustle in 1875.

The above dresses are replicas garments based on historical designs from the late 1800s. Waterfall pleats were certainly used in the Victorian era, and the multiple pleats on the green walking costume is quite likely to have been used in reality. The Victorians were never shy about ornamentation. I was unable to find evidence of a Victorian-era blouse with a similar dag hemline, which isn’t to say there weren’t any.

walking-dresses-1886-godeys-fashions

Walking dresses from 1886

1898 wlking dresses - marquise.de.jpg

Walking dresses from 1898

As you can see from the two examples above, the silhouette of the green walking dress resembles the 1886 fashions, with the larger emphasis on the bustle. However, the silhouette does lean towards the more slender skirt of the 1898 illustration, and certainly conforms to the jacket-with-blouse combination. The hat on the right in the 1898 illustration also resembles Mina’s hat in style and size, even if the decorations aren’t a match.

Both the walking dresses above are from 1890. As you can see, there is a flourish of embroidery on the lapels and cuffs of the jackets. The dress on the right is even a similar green to Mina’s green walking dress.

Overall,  I would say that Eiko Ishioka’s creation fits right into the era of the movie. Since we can ‘modernise’ Mina’s character with Steampunk gadgets, feel free to give her a cross bow with a stake for a quarrel, or a sunlight raygun.

cosplayer

Cosplaying Mina

2 Comments

Filed under Cosplay, Fashion, Movie Costumes, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Cosplay, Uncategorized, Victorian-era Fashion

Neo-Victorian Movie Fashions: Part Two

 

Helena Bonham Carter is the Corset Cosplay Queen, as she has played many characters in historical movies that have required her to wear the most gorgeous costumes. The 2013 ‘The Lone Ranger’ movie was set in 1869, and so Red Harrington  – the character played by Helena Bonham Carter – wears Victorian-era inspired costumes. Red has red hair and wears red clothing; in Australia, we would have nicknamed her ‘Blue’.

lone ranger helena bonhamcarter costume by Penny Rose.jpg

Red Harrington’s costumes were designed by Penny Rose.

Red went through a series of costume changes. Rather than try to break down the accuracy of every costumes, I have chosen two main outfits to discuss. Oh, and we will also discuss the major Steampunk prop of her costumes: the prosthetic leg that was also a gun. This was actually to the most Steampunk gadget in the movie.

THE LONE RANGER

Neo-Victorian Costume Number One.

As previously mentioned, the movie is set in 1869. Crinolines were the dress-shape of the fashionistas of that era …and Red’s costume is certainly the right shape.

red-silk-dress-from-the-late-1860s

Red Silk walking dress of the late 1860s. The silhouette is very like that of Helena Bonham Carter’s costumes.

Red’s crinoline is also in the right colour range for the era, and ruffles were a popular way of decorating the skirts of a crinoline. There had been a time when a hoop skirt would be absolutely enormous, but in the late 1860s the worst of these excesses were in the past. In the next few years, crinolines would be replaced by the bustle. Red does not appear to be wearing a hoop, and she should be. (However, she is also well away from the centres of fashion and may have resorted to petticoats instead.)

1871

Note how quickly the crinoline was replaced by the bustle. Ruffles never went out of fashion. This dress was the height of fashion in 1871.

1860-photograph-of-crinoline-with-ovecoat-hat-and-muff

1860 photograph of a woman wearing a crinoline, an overcoat, a muff, and a hat. The style of Red’s hat, shrug, and dress silhouette is closer in fashion to 1871 than to 1860.

The little lace jacket that is part of the movie costume appears to be a boudoir jacket being worn as day wear. Above are a range of jackets:

  • a boudoir jacket circa 1860;
  • 1861 lace jacket over a mourning dress;
  • A mantle/caplet from 1888.

As you can see, the boudoir jacket is lacy like the little jacket that is part of Red’s outfit, but the cut of the jacket is more like a modern shrug or a caplet.

Red’s buttoned shoes are spot on for the era.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Red Harrington in The Lone Ranger.jpg

This second outfit also sports a strange little caplet trimmed with lace, over a dress with at least three visible layers. As you can see, this dress does loosely resemble a high fashion gown from 1870, from the House of Worth in France. The Costume is a mishmash of fabrics and colours compared to the Worth dress, but that can be put down to Red’s flashy tastes. The parasol is spot on for the era.

1870s-house-of-worth

1870 House of Worth gown.

The closest equivalent period garment with dramatic sleeves I could find was this tartan dress below. However, those style of sleeves turn up again and again in the Victorian era.

royal-stuart-tartan-with-green-fringe-late-1860s

Royal Stuart Tartan Dress circa late 1860s

lone-ranger-red-shotgun-leg-movie-is-set-in-1869

Red Harrington’s prosthetic leg with hidden shotgun.

It was this clever gadget leg that inspired me to look harder at Helena Bonham Carter’s costumes in ‘The Lone Ranger’. For me, it is the gadgets that really make the Steampunk Aesthetic. As a cosplayer, I would wear a ‘tattooed’white stocking and a modified shoe to mimic this prosthetic leg.

gun-leg

The problem for costumers is that people forget that the Victorian era was lo-o-on-ng. Fashions changed. It is hard to put together an authentic historical outfit, particularly when the accuracy of the outfit hardly matters in a fantasy Western/Steampunk movie. I think Penny Rose did a great job of using Red’s outfits to give the audience a deeper insight into her character. That is inspirational work.

4 Comments

Filed under Cosplay, Fashion, Movie Costumes, Neo-Victorian Retrofuturism, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Cosplay, Uncategorized, Victorian-era Fashion

Tomas Barcelo’s Steampunk Cannon

tomas-barcelos-steampunk-cannon-02

tomas-barcelos-steampunk-cannon-03

worn-as-backpackmanoverable

the-cannon-ball

Seriously, one of the best gadgets I’ve seen in a long time.

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Gadgets, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Uncategorized

Steampunk Art and the Steampunk Aesthetic: Part Two

samson-the-blue-ringed-octopus-and-his-assistant-jeremiah-for-blue-ring-iron-works

Art by Brian Kesinger

Samson the blue ringed octopus and his assistant, Jeremiah, for blue ring iron works.

I love illustrations, for books, for graphic novels, and for posters.One of my favourite artists is Brian Kesinger, the famed creator of Otto and Victoria from “Walking your Octopus”. Kesinger is an American illustrator, author and animator, who has worked for Disney. Many of his works have a Steampunk Aesthetic.He even paints with tea! His use of the Steampunk Aesthetic to tell a tale withing his illustrations reflects his deep understanding (and love) of the genre.

international-womans-day

Brian Kesinger’s Tea Girls, painted using tea.

otto-victoria-as-a-dalek-and-the-doctor-ten

Otto and Victoria cosplaying as Doctor Who and a Dalek.

the-inventor

The Inventor, by Brian Kesinger.

Edward Gorey is another artist who favours a Victorian flavour in his illustrations, but his tastes tend to be more Gothic. The late Edward  Gorey was an American writer and artist, famed for his illustrated books.

image-from-edwardgoreyelephanthouse-tumblr-com-website

Now, the aesthetics of Gothic Victorian and Steampunk are very closely related, and Gorey is a master of the dark arts. It is his eye for detail that makes his work resonate on so many levels. That, and he can be both macabre and whimsical within the same illustration.

willowdale_handcar-image-from-wikipedia

innocence

 

from-the-willowdale-handcart

Illustration from The Willowdale Handcar

osbick-bird-by-edward-goreyNow, I can’t mention Steampunk illustrators without mentioning Liz Mamont. Like Gorey, Mamont blends a mixture of Gothic horror with a Victorian aesthetic. Like Gorey, her work often has a surreal edge. Her use of line work is superb, and she doesn’t back away from Absurdism in her work.

liz-mamont

The Mantis Family Outing Liz Mamont

Electricity.jpg

Electricity by Liz Mamont

6084065154_de3fcc356c_o

Art by Liz Mamont.

Unlike Steampunk sculptures, there is no expectation of ‘functionality’ in illustrations. Instead, what makes these illustrations fit into the Steampunk genre is their sense of humour – black or otherwise – and their sense of fun, while remain restricted to a a Victorian-era style and aesthetic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Art, Steampunk Cosplay, Steampunk Genre, Uncategorized