Tag Archives: Hispanic Heritage Month 2011

#94 Luis Senarens, Penny Dreadful Author from Brooklyn–Guest Blog by Miriam Rocek

An illustration from Jack Wright and his Electric Stage; or, Leagued Against the James Boys published in 1893

It’s no secret that what we currently call “steampunk” has its roots in the speculative, imaginative fiction of the 19th century. People often cite Jules Verne as the founding author of the steampunk genre, but he was one of a number of authors who wrote fiction dealing with elaborate, futuristic technologies. During the 19th century, there was one man referred to as “the American Jules Verne,” whose works are full of quintessentially steampunk elements. There’s a steam-powered mechanical man, racing across the American plains, a bullet-proof, electrically powered 19th century stage-coach, hot in pursuit of the Jesse James Gang, not to mention an electrical flying machine. The stories revolve around a boy-genius inventor, and all of them are set, and were written, before 1896. The author’s identity was appropriately exciting to the imagination; he wrote under the intriguing pseudonym “Noname,” a mysterious, unknown presence, producing fantastic works at an astonishing rate, including twenty-six stories in 1893 alone.

Before there was television, before there were movie theaters, before there were comic books, there were dime novels. Called “penny dreadfuls” in England, these were cheaply printed, floridly written adventure stories, lurid, exciting, and intended for a popular audience. They were read by children and adults, men and women. They were working class entertainment, easily purchased, easily hidden from a schoolteacher or other disapproving authority figure, and easily devoured in a single day. They ranged from romances to detective stories, from horror to western, covering every genre that might appeal to readers eager for excitement. The works of Noname were wildly successful dime novels, telling stories of adventurers and inventors.

What is interesting about Noname, apart from the stories he created, is that he was two people. Much like the Dread Pirate Roberts, “Noname” was a pseudonym that was handed down from one man to another. The second, and by far the most prolific of these two men was in reality Luis Senarens, a Cuban American man from Brooklyn, who was just sixteen years old when, in 1879, he took over writing a series of dime novels about a boy inventor and adventurer named Frank Reade.

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Bruno Accioly: Creator of the Brazilian Conselho Steampunk–Interview by Fabio Fernandes on Tor.com

If there is an established fact on the Brazilian fandom, is this: there was never a force so strong, all-encompassing as steampunk in our shores. The flamboyant army of corsets-and-goggles with their mindboggling variety of steam-powered infernal devices has definitely conquered the hearts and minds of the Brazilian fans and writers. After almost four years of activity, Brazilian steampunk can’t be considered just a fad anymore. We’re not in Kansas, Dorothy: we are in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and several other big tropical cities which probably you’ve never heard of — but you will.

[Read the Rest on Tor.com’s Steampunk Week]

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#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.

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QUAINT #31: Don Q, Created by Kate and Hesketh Prichard

"Don Q's Love Story" Original Vintage Cover. Click for source.

"Don Q's Love Story" Original Vintage Cover. Click for source.

Don Q was created by Kate and Hesketh Prichard and debuted in “The Parole of Gevil-Hay” (Badminton Magazine, September 1897). Don Q went on to appear in numerous stories, collections, and novels, which is collected in The Chronicles of Don Q. Hesketh Prichard (1876-1922) was a successful author, big game hunter, and cricketer and was reportedly E.W. Hornung’s model for Raffles. Kate Prichard (1851-1935), Hesketh’s mother, was a novelist, short story writer, and political activist. The Prichards also created Flaxman Low.

Don Q is a grim Spanish bandit active in the mid- and late-19th century, operating with his gang in “the Andalusian highlands, stretching from Jerez to Almeria and beyond.” Don Q is known to the locals as “Don Quebranta Huesos,” or “Don Bone Smasher,” the local name for the “bonebreaking” vulture whose features Don Q seems to share. Don Q is no ordinary thief or bandit chief, however. He is a sequestrador, one who kidnaps and holds for ransom, what Don Q describes as “the noblest rank of brigand.”

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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Header created by hispanichertiagemonth.gov. Click for link

In the United States, September 15th – October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month! Over here on the blog, I’ll be hosting and cross-posting a couple of special posts about Hispanic culture, history, and people (& steampunkiness!) throughout the month. To start, check out past coverage on Beyond Victoriana relating to Hispanic culture & its history, and explore these additional resources below.

Official US Hispanic Heritage Month website

Scholastic’s teaching resources on Hispanic Heritage Month

Resources on TeacherVision

Resources on Smithsonian’s Educational website

Historical Hispanic landmarks across the US

A listing of famous Hispanic inventors

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