April 2018 Dewey Readathon

Looking for the best reading line up for the April 28 Dewey 24 Hour Readathon?Thanks to library favorite author Gail Carriger, our Administrator team will be participating in this year’s goal to read 1million pages  (submit your own page count here)! To help ourselves and others, we’ve created the following booklist of our TBR titles not previously mentioned here to keep you chugging along all day Saturday. Share your favorites and join the conversation on Twitter (#readathon) and on Goodreads.

Short stories or novellas:

“The Eradication of Vice: A Femdom Steampunk Story” by Salome Verdad — This grown-ups only short story is available in KindleUnlimited

“Rescue Or, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal” by Amy Leigh Strickland — If you like your steam stories on this side of the pond, this one is for you.

Novels:

“The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1” by Theodora Goss — This genderbending mashup of classic Victorian monster stories is sure to please fans of the Showtime “Penny Dreadful” series .

“The Dark Unwinding” by Sharon Cameron — This YA adventure offers up a little bit of everything; history, mystery, and romance.

Audiobooks:

“The Golden Spider: Elemental Web Chronicles Series, Book 1” by Anne Renwick and narrated by Henrietta Meire — Meire is a favorite on Audible with over 50 titles to her name.

“Beauty and the Clockwork Beast: The Steampunk Proper Romances, Book 1” by Nancy Campbell Allen and narrated by Saskia Maarleveld — In this old style romance the focus is more on seduction than sex.

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A Study in Emerald

Creator: Neil Gaiman (author and narrator)

Media Type: Audiobook

Audience: Teen+

Summary: When the most perplexing crimes are committed in London, Scotland Yard calls in their best man: Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. The only one of his trade, Mr. Holmes’s most enticing cases are chronicled by his long time friend, a retired army doctor. This case is perhaps the most enticing of all. A member of the royal house has been slain in a seedy room in one of London’s least fashionable neighborhoods. However, in this detail rich and elegant alternate history retelling of A Study in Scarlet the Royal House is not Windsor: it isn’t even human.

Bottom Line: In a seamless blend of Doyle, Lovecraft, and his own signature dialog style Mr. Gaiman has created 45 minutes of pure joy. While you do not have to be familiar with Lovecraftian lore to follow the narrative, fans of the mythos will greatly appreciate the thoughtful inclusion of the Old Ones into this classic tale you think you know.

Find It:

Own it on Audible

Rent it through your local library on OneDrive

Fun Facts:

Won the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Short Story

A PDF text copy is also available for free on Gaiman’s website, stylized as a Victorian newspaper complete with advertisements

Coming soon- a graphic novel adaption from Dark Horse comics, pre-order it here!

The story was also adapted into a board game. 

NaNoWriMo 2017

Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2017… may the word count be ever in your favor.

NaNoWroMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a fall tradition now in its 18th year. The event promotes creative writing and building pre-professional writer communities. While there are many official events , pep-talks, and more forums than you can shake a stick at… sometimes what you really need is your own green-fairy (no not this one) for inspiration.

How about a success story? Visit the website of  SteampunkLibrary patron Brianna Kienitz, whose for-pleasure writing project was recently published by NineStar press. She is also participating in NaNoWriMo and will be actively documenting her work on Twitter.

Contemporary realism not what you need? Check out these Steam- Themed NaNoWriMo publications (note: this list is not comprehensive nor is it necessarily an endorsement of quality, simply an example of a novel started or finished as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge that was eventually published by a physical publisher):

Bellow are a few writing prompts to help get you started, or help you if you get stuck.

The doctor looked over the young man sitting in front of her. He was a perfect candidate for this new surgery. He needed his arm removed or he would die, there was no question of that. But would it work? If it did she would be a hero and those stuffed shirts at the Philadelphia Medical Association would have no choice but to admit her… but if it didn’t…if it failed she risked hanging for murder.

Professor Reginald D. Moth began furiously unscrewing the gold-plated cover of the engine compartment. He simply couldn’t find the source of the leak and yet his lab was quickly flooding with oil. If the spill reached the carpet his landlord would surely evict him this time.

The scream can suddenly, vibrating every wall in the house. It was a scream filled with fear, with shock, and if it continued would surely render the creator unconscious from lack of breath. The explosion came no less suddenly, but its vibrations tore the windows from the walls and left the whole household concussed.

Share your progress with on on Twitter @SteamLib, or send us a link in the comments!

 

 

 

All I Want For Halloween is Victorian Monster Movies

This Halloween I was really excited about reviewing the new Mummy— the first film to launch a new Universal Pictures  own Cinematic Universe named the  “Dark Universe” which is a reboot of their industry changing black and white monster films. However, we will not be reviewing that film because it was simply awful (and here I would like to direct you to the review by Screen Junkies on YouTube). Instead I would love to take a moment to celebrate the original films and their frequent connections to the wonderful world of steam.

Note: Many of these films contain elements that are not exactly steampunk visually, but the science, creativity, and technological creations in them are entirely within the spirit of the genre.

Frankenstein 

Creator: Mary Shelley (novel) Peggy Webling (adaptation) James Whale (director) Boris Karloff (starring)

Media Type: feature film (1931)

Audience: Though originally a spine chilling horror film, a modern audience would rate it at ages 10+

Summary: The one that started it all! Eccentric academic Henry Frankenstein retreats to an incredibly rainy castle with his laboratory assistant Fritz to conduct experiments in reanimating dead tissue, resulting in birthing a monster. The film solidified the image of the mad scientist surrounded by lighting strikes, switch boxes, and scalpels. The film takes creative license with many of the original novels theme though, focusing less on the relationship between the Monster and his Creator and more on the impact the monster had on the surrounding town– switching the conversation from the evils of man to the domino effect of evil.

Bottom Line: A must see for fans of horror films, steampunk, and groundbreaking special effects.

Find It: Amazon and YouTube

Murders in the Rue Morgue

Creator: Edgar Allan Poe (novel), Robert Florey (director), Bela Lugosi (starring)

Media Type: feature film (1932)

Audience: Produced during the pre-Code era in Hollywood, this film is generally fine for modern 13+ audiences but the Librarian recommends pre-viewing.

Summary: A mad scientist engaging in ape/human genetic experimentation begins abducting women from the streets of 1840s Paris. Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s novel of the same name, the story is credited with being the first piece of modern detective fiction. Filled with human experimentation, murder, and dramatic chase scenes this film became part of the foundation of the genre.

Bottom Line: Generally reviewd as “A for Effort”. While not everything about the film withstood the test of time, the obvious creativity in every scene makes it well worth the 62 minutes of your time.

Find It: Amazon Video and Youtube

The Invisible Man

Creator: H.G. Wells (novel),  R.C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges (adapted by), James Whale (director)

Media: feature film (1933)

Audience: 14+.

Summary: Dr. Jack Griffin, a chemist, has been experimenting with a new drug which unintentionally turned him indivisible. This new-found feature leads Dr. Griffin away from research and on a new path: murder and world domination. The film was a well respected success, so a sequel The Invisible Man Returns was released in 1940. The new invisible man was played by Vincent Price which alone makes it worth a watch.

Bottom Line: This is one of the few films to earn a 100% on RottenTomatoes, which says a lot. Many modern reviews also still call the film frightening, which isn’t the case for most “classic” films (look at Dracula for example, which at the time was horrifying but is now often given a G/PG rating).

Find It: Amazon and YouTube

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Creator: Robert Louis Stevenson (novella)

Summary: Dr. Henry Jekyll is a well respected physician in a fashionable piece of Victorian London. His experiments with chemistry and pharmacology, while originally pure in intention, soon turn dark. Drunk on the freedom from Victorian social expectations (and the law) his new drug offers him, Jekyll creates a whole new persona for himself, a Mr. Edward Hyde. But as the allure of Hyde’s debauchery grows Jekyll has to ask himself: who is he really? An excellent continuation of the Victorian theme of the inner battles between monster and man.

A myriad of film and TV adaptations have been created. Here are links to as many of them as I could find.

1912 short/silent film, directed by Lucius Henderson.

1913 Short/silent film, directed by Herbert Brenon.

1920 silent film, directed by John Robertson. Note: there are two other 1920 versions of Jekyll/Hyde as well. One was filmed in Germany The Head of Janus (German: Der Janus-Kopf)  directed by F. W. Murnau, and another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde directed by J. Haydon. However the Haydon film did very poorly and the director was known to have hated it.

1931 feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.

1941 feature film directed by Victor Fleming

Did I miss your favorite? Tell us about it on Twitter: @SteamLib

 

 

Prefab Costumes: The Good, The Bad, the Benefit of an Expanded Audience

Like most of you (I assume) I love Halloween. The fun, the energy, the chance to dust off my corset post-convention and show off my favorite shoes. A few years ago you couldn’t find anything Steampunk in the costume shops (I know, because I work in them every season) besides the occasional bowler hat or mechanical decor. In the last few years though pre-fabricated Steampunk costumes have been growing in availability and now Spirit Halloween has a whole feature wall devoted to themed costumes, make-up, hats, pants, glue-on-mustaches, and more. But for an aesthetic  deeply grounded in DIY principals, how do we reconcile with prefab generics?

My opinion? Embrace it!

The reality is costuming is time consuming and can be very expensive. Normally these are spoken about as positives: applauding those who take the time to create incredible pieces and thinking of ways to pinch pennies. However, for many of us we simply don’t have the time, the cash, or (let’s be honest) the skill to create what we want. While I too would rather find a small business to get my costumes from sometimes that’s not a great option — particularly if I was new to the genre and wasn’t sure where to go.

These feature spaces in Spirit may be the gateway for news fans! Not everyone knows about us and these mainstream shops may be where they build interest. Alternatively, this may be the first time a long-term enthusiast gets a full costume for their first convention or finally gets the replacement shirt for their costume they’ve worn for years. I don’t see anything damaging to opening the doors to our community a little wider and showing off to the more mainstream sci-fi and Halloween fans. Besides, I don’t think we have to worry about damaging our brand when things like Steampunk’d exist (though that seems to have crashed and burned, but is still available on Netflix) and we all made it out okay. So maybe we need to welcome prefab costumes as helping people find us, instead of being judgy that they didn’t put “enough effort” into their outfits.

 

Now as a reward for reading my ironically judgy post about not judging where people buy their costumes, enjoy this wild-west Lindsey Stirling music video

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

Title: The strange affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne #1)

Author: Mark Hodder

Age/Audience: 15+

Genre/Style: Alternative history, time travel

Read If You Like the idea of a Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes cross-over.

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack Audiobook
Book Cover

Summary:

Sir Francis Burton, famous explorer, is all set to participate in a heated public debate with his former partner. The debate is intended to not only settle the question of where the Nile River originates, but also repair Burton’s tattered reputation. Instead, Burton is thrust into the search for a man he thought was only a myth: Spring Heeled Jack. Acting as an agent of the king in an alt-history London filled with motorized carriages, genetically modified parakeets who act as messengers,  and on the brink of all out culture war between the Technologists (eugenicists) and the Libertines Burton runs into a plethora of Victorian characters including (but not limited to) Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde, Florence Nightingale, and notorious boogeyman Spring Heeled Jack himself.

 

Bottom Line:

Personally, I rated this book a 2.5/5. The Audible narrator was spectacular and I loved the overall theme of the book. However, I am not a fan of time-travel. Placed right in the middle of the book is a semi-separate time-travel almost-short story explaining how SHJ came to be in Victorian London from the year 2202 which I felt really pulled too far from the Steampunk I came to the book for. I also felt the book could have used a better general editor. Meeting a few intentional historical personalities is fun, but meeting everyone and the kitchen sink becomes cumbersome.

 

Find It:

Goodreads Review

Powell’s City of Books 

I highly recommend checking out the audiobook on Audible

Conventions: Start Planning Early

Want to share your passion, enthusiasm, and costume work with others? What better way than by presenting at your local (or not to local) convention?

While most conventions take place in the Spring and Summer, most are starting to put their calendars together now. Booking special guests, musicians, artisans, and speakers takes time- so the sooner the better in most cases. Bellow I’ve compiled a list of active cons deep in the planning stages for their 2017 event. Did I miss your favorite? Send a link to admin@steampunklibrary.net and I’ll add it!

The First-Ever Edwardian Ball New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana March 25, 2017 http://www.edwardianball.com/

While not technically a convention, The Edwardian Ball is an elegant and whimsical celebration of art, music, theatre, fashion, technology, circus, and the beloved creations of the late, great author and illustrator Edward Gorey.

Steampunk World’s Fair

Piscataway, NJ May 5-7 http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

February 15th, 2017 is their deadline for panel applications  http://steampunkworldsfair.com/applications/programming-application/

Geneva Steam

Delavan, WI March 10-12  http://www.genevasteam.com/

February 17th is their deadline for their final few panel spots. They are specifically looking for maker themed events.

Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention

Tuscon, AZ March 3-5   https://www.wildwestcon.com/

This is one of the few animal friendly conventions. They don’t have a posted deadline for volunteer/panel applications, BUT they have listed their musical guests: The Cog is Dead!

The Polar Emporium of Supernatural Oddities

Anchorage, AK April 15-16 http://www.alaskasteamposium.com/

Visit with Gail Carriger in the frigid north! Past years panels included 19th Century Sexuality & Sensuality, Introductory Leatherwork, and Creating Worlds Through Words. They have no posted deadline for applications.

I’m also including links to conventions that don’t have 2017 dates listed yet.

TeslaCon, Wisconsin, http://www.teslacon.com/

Steamposim, Seattle, http://seattle-steamposium.com/

When a Librarian Gets Married

Hello Internet!

As many of you have noticed and messaged, this site has been inactive for a few months. Major life changes (aka getting a new job, moving across the country, and getting married) just haven’t left me the time to provide the thoughtful reviews and commentary I wanted, so instead of posting half-heartedly, I simply haven’t been posting at all. However, now that I have more stability in life, I am very excited to be returning to this project!

To start us off here is a photo-post highlighting some amazing ideas for a Steampunk wedding.

Wouldn’t we all love to have a wedding like this?

http://ruffledblog.com/victorian-steampunk-wedding/
http://ruffledblog.com/victorian-steampunk-wedding/

When dressing wedding party members, it’s important to remember not everyone wants to dress-up, particularly if you are having wedding party members who are family, not friends you take with the convention. A great middle ground is to pick key elements that still scream steam, but are more comfortable that a full corset. For the gents: a double breasted jacket or vest like those you can find at ASOS online. For the ladies, boots or jewelry might be the best way to peope-please while maintaining your Victorian flair.

For brides there are several dress options:

You can go for full anachronistic styling with bustles, hats, and mixed colors.

Etsy Seller: OohLaLaBoudoir
Etsy Seller: OohLaLaBoudoir
http://www.steampunkcouture.com/
http://www.steampunkcouture.com/

Or you can go for a modern dress with steam-esque elements

Just because Victoria made white the new normal doesn't mean you have to stick with it
Just because Victoria made white the new normal doesn’t mean you have to follow

For a traditional Victorian gown, DIY might be your best option. I recommend starting your pattern search with Truly Victorian or Butterick.

For grooms there are the double breasted suits and vests like I linked above, but also don’t overlook the impact of accessories like:

Hats:

http://www.villagehatshop.com/product/top-hats/451139-169622/head-n-home-gent-topper.html
http://www.villagehatshop.com/product/top-hats/451139-169622/head-n-home-gent-topper.html
http://www.villagehatshop.com/product/top-hats/451139-3295/jaxon-hats-victorian-top-hat.html
http://www.villagehatshop.com/product/top-hats/451139-3295/jaxon-hats-victorian-top-hat.html

Cravats:

Etsy Seller: storiadiversa
Etsy Seller: storiadiversa

Hip Holsters

Etsy Seller: HydeAndSheik
Etsy Seller: HydeAndSheik

 

Have you had your own Victorian or Steam inspired wedding? We want to see your pictures! Share them @SteamLib on Twitter or send them to admin@steampunklibrary.net!

 

 

 

Vice Quadrant

As of September First, Steam Powered Giraffe has a fourth studio-album! Huzzah!

Blatantly stolen from their website
Blatantly stolen from their website

The Song Selection:

The Vice Quadrant, an impressive two-disc, 28-track ‘Space Opera’ is both totally synced with the style of previous albums, but is also completely new. We have a toe-tapping hero ballad (Commander Cosmo), a YouTube sing-a-long favorite (Fire, Fire), and a geeky-sweet love songs (Soliton). Silly songs like Sky Sharks and The Space Giant round out the album to cover just about any style of SPG you might have liked from a previous collection.

The Style:

For those who have not seen a live show, this concept-heavy set will give you a good idea (though for almost the same price as most of their concert tickets). Unlike previous collections there are also solid appearances from Qwerty (a anthropomorphized computer interface) and Gg (the robotic giraffe), who any readers who have been to a live SPG show know are regulars on stage but usually absent from albums and music videos. Tracks also include more character discussions and narratives closer to a live-show experience rather than the traditional all music pieces from The 2c Show and Album One.

Things of Note:

  • Many songs take full advantage of the music-tech skills of the members and include more complex techy sounds than their previous records. But worry not, there are still lots of ‘traditional’ sounding songs carrying on the SPG folk-style we know and love.
  • Rabbit’s voice is noticeably lighter in style and higher in octave. Though their wasn’t a noticeable feminine change in MKIII it is new and fun in VQ. For those who are interested in Rabbit’s gender-transition journey, she keeps an active video blog.
  • Hatchworth gets way more song-time than he did in MKIII, which, since I am personally not a huge fan, isn’t great. But, I also really prefer deeper baritone voices and less-abstract song structure, so there isn’t much to be done there.
  • This album has a LOT going on. There are a lot of styles, a lot of voices, and a ton of lyrics to take-in. It will take several listen-troughs to fully appreciate everything that went into create this behemoth of a record. Hot off the presses, I liked it. A month later, I love it (except for one or two songs, but hey, out of 28 that’s still amazing).

Buying It:

As always, SPG heavily rewards fans who buy a physical copy versus a digital-only copy. The full two-disc collection comes with a whopping 31-page lyric booklet filled with full-color original artwork. But for those of us who would simply scratch CDs at this point, both parts are also available via iTunes and Bandcamp.

Samples:

Steam Powered Giraffe put out several music videos for VQ. Below are my favorites, but you can see them all on the official SPG YouTube channel.

A favorite member? What? I don’t have one…

Also, this song is on the album, but the video is from a live show two years ago.

Have you heard VQ? What do you think?

Share in the comments or on Twitter @SteamLib