Tag Archives: technology

#98 Musing about Native Steampunk- Guest blog by Monique Poirier

Note: Cross-posted with permission from Moniquilliloquies.

Photo credit: Monique Poirier

One of the most disheartening aspects I’ve found in American Steampunk alternate histories is the assumption that despite alternate histories that allow for magitek and phlebotinum and aether-powered airships and steam-powered, clockwork everything from cell phones to teleporters to ray guns… there is still an assumption that NDN genocide took place. That European contact can only have occurred in the 15thcentury and that it can only have resulted in colonialism, slavery, resource theft, land theft, and genocide.Come on, people.

We can have clockwork robots but not POC civilizations?
Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Essays, History

#93 Narcís Monturiol’s Submarines Ictineo I and II

Replica of the Ictineo I. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Whose technology inspired Jules Verne’s conceptualization of the Nautilus? It was this guy’s, Spanish inventor and physicist Narcís Monturiol with his submarines Ictineo I and II.  His series of submarines were the first successful working subs, improving upon plans made by inventors in the 17th century.

Not only was Monturiol a talented scientist, he was also a political radical, whose ideas for safety for the working class gave him the motivation to invent his submarine.

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Essays, History

QUAINT #29 The Engine from A MEXICAN MYSTERY by W. Grove

The Engine was created by “W. Grove” and appeared in A Mexican Mystery (1888) and The Wreck of a World (1889). Nothing is known about “W. Grove” apart from his British citizenship. Both novels are moderately entertaining, and are early examples of the Revolt Of The Machines subgenre of science fiction.

A Mexican Mystery is the diary of John Brown, a Scottish locomotive engineer who is sent to Mexico to oversee the construction of a new railway line for the “new Emperor” (implicitly the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph). Brown is sent to the small town of Xiqipu, which will be the location of his headquarters during the project. It is in Xiqipu that he meets Pedro da Luz, the local engineer for the project. Da Luz is a descendant of Montezuma and is independently wealthy, and although proud still welcomes Brown to the project. Brown, for his part, sees that da Luz is close to brilliant and respects his intelligence. Brown goes off to the front of the line, which is high in the mountains, to oversee its construction. Da Luz, meanwhile, stays in Xiqipu and works on his special creation. The Emperor is holding a contest for the best new locomotive, and da Luz intends to win the contest.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under QUAINT

#77 Indian Automaton: Tipu’s Tiger

Among the objects in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, one of the most popular is Tipu’s Tiger, an Indian automaton of a tiger mauling a European soldier.

Tipu’s Tiger. Image copyrighted by the Victoria & Albert Museum. Click for source.

Tipu’s Tiger was created around 1795 for the Tipu Sultan of Mysore. The tiger was the sultan’s emblem and the symbolism here is quite blatant: a sign of the sultan’s power over European forces. The figure was crafted using Indian materials and design, with French mechanics. Inside the tiger is a mechanical organ, cogwheel and worm gear, with 36 brass pipes, leather bellows, button keys. By turning a crankshaft on the left side of the Tiger, air is pumped into the bellows of the Tiger and it emits a wailing shriek from the soldier (and twitching hand) and a mighty roar from the Tiger. The buttons keys on its side allow people to play music on the Tiger.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under History

Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #7

This weekend, I’m rockin’ it out at New York Comic Con.  I’m there mostly doing the Day Job thing, unfortunately (though, if I can, I might wear my steampunk for Sunday.)

For anyone who manages to recognize me in my civvies, though, you’ll probably end up being filmed or photographed, if you’re looking fabulous and want to flaunt it.

In the meantime, enjoy the linkspam below. This edition features lots of interesting essays, some awesome postcards, and a video of my interview with Cherie Priest.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Beyond Victoriana Odds and Ends, Essays, History, Linkspams

#37 Technology & the World: Book Review of THE SHOCK OF THE OLD

One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had about steampunk was with Crimean Palais, who claimed steampunk was his life, but ironically, did not feel like he belonged with the steampunks he met at the Steampunk Empire community. Crimean Palais, from the Ukraine, explained why:

In fact, first I also felt myself a bit misplaced, when I joined the Empire:
You must understand: When YOU in UK or USA wear such weird glasses, its just for fun and to “play” dress-up. When people here wear such glasses, they simply WORK ;-)

The same goes for some weird instruments or machines: For people here in Ukraine, such “self-made” machines are not “a hobby”, but they simply build their own apparatuses, because they don´t have the money to buy a new one… (original emphasis kept)

Another example that brought up steampunk, technology and the non-West was during the Great Steampunk Debate, where the poster Piechur pointed out an African slum as a “real-life DIY steampunk community” that he thought was quite tragic:

What both examples have in common is the fact that, while most of the steampunk community would identify as middle or upper class from highly industrialized nations, many people who actively incorporate those “steampunk values” — re-purposing junk or found items, the importance of tactile-based technology, ingenuity based on necessity, sustaining one’s lifestyle using older technological methods — are from places other than rich communities in highly industrialized societies. The technological nostalgia we feel lacking in our lives is the reality of many communities today.

In the steampunk community, coupled with that sense of technological nostalgia is the cherished idea of innovation. Indeed, when people talk about technology, it’s usually in reference to when something was invented and by whom. Interestingly enough, the technological history of innovation and the history of use (who uses these innovations and where) are not usually associated with one another, but both are embraced in steampunk subculture. What is often taken for granted in discussions about the history of technology in steampunk, however, is the premise that old technologies are so interesting because they are not generally recognized by Western-European societies as something intrinsic to our way of life. On the other hand, however, as we have seen in the two examples above, older technologies are very much in use today in the non-West and in the developing world (for those are the places where they have having their own industrial revolutions). Moreover, the history of use becomes a key perspective that reevaluates the importance of older technologies: not just from a hobbyist’s perspective, but from a greater economic and social standpoint that concerns entire populations and countries around the world.

David Edgerton, a UK historian, writes about the impact of the history of use in his book THE SHOCK OF THE OLD: Technology and Global History Since 1900.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under History, Review

Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #5

This weekend I’ll be at ConnectiCon instigating havoc with my steampunk friends and helping out with several panels. On top of that, “Steam Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana” is making a comeback! I’m wicked excited to be presenting this panel again. For all attendees, feel free to stop in–

Saturday, July 10th
7:30 – 8:30 PM
Room Location: Check your schedules

And for those of you in the area, I will also be at the Steampunk Bizarre on Sunday for the steampunk meet-up. There should be some nifty artists presenting their work, so I hope to see some of you there too.

In the meantime, check out the collection of links for your viewing/reading pleasure.

Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Beyond Victoriana Odds and Ends, Linkspams

#28 Harun ar-Raschid and the Golden Age of Islam — Guest Blog by Jaymee Goh

Harun Ar-Raschid. Image coutesy of Wikipedia

Harun Ar-Raschid (also spelled as Harun Al-Raschid) was a caliph of Baghdad during the Abbasid dynasty who reigned from 786 to 809 A.D. His court was arguably the most memorable of the Abbasid dynasty, and he was the inspiration for many tales in One Thousand and One Nights.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under History

Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #1

While gathering materials and suggestions for things to feature on Beyond Victoriana, fellow steampunks offered quite a few delicious tidbits that were interesting reads and looks, but not quite enough for a full post. So here are some Odds & Ends from the aethernets and elsewhere for you to enjoy—

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Beyond Victoriana Odds and Ends

#9: First Nation Sci-Fi & Technology Resources


Image courtesy of Kory Lynn Hubbell

One of the interesting challenges non-Eurocentric steampunk faces is how technology can be re-imagined for peoples that did not develop industrialized technology during the nineteenth century. Case in point this week: First Nation peoples. There has also been the assumption that First Nation peoples “lack” technology, and so therefore what role can they play in any science fiction genre, nevermind steampunk?

Notwithstanding the imaginative block (and racist subtext) implied by those who say FN peoples didn’t have technologywhich is argued against by Kay Marie Porterfield in her article Ten Lies About Indigenous Science – How to Talk Back concepts like time travel, tech, and alternative histories aren’t confined to any particular culture. This week is a linkspam featuring discussions concerning First Nation peoples in sci-fi and reading suggestions to get those mental gears turning.

For research resources, I have included a selection of articles concerning FN sci-fi, history, and technology at hand; for reading suggestions, I’ve listed examples that can also be considered under general sci-fi, alternative history, or Weird West.

UPDATED 15 February 2010: I’ve updated this post with the most relevant suggestions given by readers included below. Enjoy!

Read more below the cut

9 Comments

Filed under History, Linkspams