As a community resource for librarians and steampunk fans in all walks of life, we here at The Steampunk Library project want to connect and share with as many members of the community as possible. To that end The Steampunk Library project is active on Tumblr (follow at http://steampunklibrary.tumblr.com/), sharing posts and steampunk art.
Recently Steampunk Library has also joined Twitter (@SteamLib), where we can share links from other steam-inspired people, like the Boston Metaphysical Society (@HMollyRosing), the Airship Ambassador (@airshipEmbassy), authors like Gail Carriger (@gailcarriger), and more. Follow the #steampunk hashtag and @SteamLib to get connected to the community.
Looking for some face-to-face cosplay filled interactions? August may be fast approaching but convention season is far from over!
I will be hosting a Steampunk Library panel in September at the first Steamposium Convention in Seattle Washington, September 26-28. For more info and badge prices visit their website, or their Facebook. Get your badges early to ensure you can see Steam Powered Giraffe LIVE in concert at the convention on Saturday night. Don’t know about Steam Powered Giraffe? Check out the review of them here.
Been to a convention recently and want to share your experience with the community? You can share your con pics with us via Twitter, or send in your write up and pictures of your experience to email@example.com and host it on the site.
Performers: David Bennett, “Bunny” Bennett, & Sam Luke
Media Type: Musical Group / Pantomime
Audience: All/ Family Friendly
Steam Powered Giraffe is an entertainment group, first and foremost. They mix original musical and vocal performance with turn of the century-styled robotic pantomime. Music style varies from folksy to soft rock to pop-covers. From the band’s FAQ page their influences include “The Band, ELO, The Beatles, Queen, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, The Mills Brothers, The Bee Gees, Amanda Palmer, Danny Elfman, Frank Sinatra, Radiohead, Muse… And the list goes on!”
The act includes full make-up and costume, plus mechanical movements whizzing, gear popping, and the occasional malfunction. Family friendly without feeling watered down, SPG offers a full artistic steam punk experience you can enjoy at home in your corset via their iTunes and their YouTube channel or get gussied up to watch them in person at any one of dozens of conventions across North America. When you inevitably decide to purchase their music, consider a physical CD over iTunes to get their original steam punk art filled lyric books.
Bottom Line: A great band that’s equal parts musical quality and visual performance.
Summary: Some seventeen-or-so years in the future, the remainder of human life on Earth lives on a single train, which is in constant motion across the planet. A global warming initiative taken on by world powers in 2014, of which the viewer learns in radio broadcast flashbacks at the beginning of the film, created a second Ice Age whose effects were so rapid that nearly everyone died. The Snowpiercer is the engine which sustains life for the wretched few that have managed to survive. This train hearkens back to a bygone time in which the (steam) engine was the pinnacle of modernity, although the Snowpiercer and its “eternal engine” is clearly vastly different in terms of its operation. As the vessel moves throughout this tale, the viewer sees it blast through ice formations in a snow-covered world, and learn increasingly more about this mysterious yet powerful conveyance right up until the end of the film.
While the engine itself may be the namesake and setting for the film, the story centers around the efforts of passengers of the “tail” of the train to better their conditions, led by Curtis (Chris Evans). The tail and its residents are unspeakably filthy, abused regularly, and the residents of these crowded and labyrinthine quarters get by on slippery-looking “protein” bars as their only source of food. Guarded ferociously by men in full military gear, occasional visits (and speeches) by Mason (Tilda Swinton), the conductor’s right-hand woman make it clear that the conditions for passenger cars more towards the front of the train are idyllic in comparison. Determined to fight against the injustices that are perpetrated upon the tail passengers, Curtis leads a blood-saturated charge to the front (just another in a long history of revolts) with the help of a drug-addled man named Namgoong Minsu and his daughter Yona. Interspersed with scenes of violent clashes (so fierce that this reviewer had to look away) are glimpses of how the other half lives – in luxurious comfort and good health. This constructed dichotomy between the haves and have-nots is not new, and divisions of humans predicated on class or socioeconomic standing in such a way also alludes to a more historic origin than the futuristic setting of Snowpiercer.
Bottom Line: Including this film in a list of steampunk resources may seem like kind of a stretch, as the engine isn’t steam-powered, but the class struggles and train setting decontextualizes the tale from its temporal situation.
Hello librarians, students, bookworms, and steampunk enthusiasts! My name is Constance and I’ll be your librarian.
This website was created, originally, as my final class project for my MLIS. I wanted to build a web resource for librarians and students who want to know more about steam literature and reader’s advisory, but that can also be used by those who are part of the culture and want to build it into their library programing. Thus Steampunk Library was born!
Here I’ll post programing ideas (my own and those from around the web), book reviews, book talks, movie reviews, and online resources for a variety of uses. I’ll also be featuring guest posts from my fellow librarians and children’s literature specialists.
Have a book review you want to submit? Have a programing idea you want to share? Have a question you need answered or a problem that needs solving? Submissions are enthusiastically asked for; see the submissions page in the top menu for details.
Creator: Jules Verne (novel), David N. Titcher (screenplay), Staring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, and Jim Broadbent
Media Type: Feature Film, 120 minutes
Audience: Family Friendly
Phileas Fogg is a brilliant inventor living in Victorian London. His inventions fill his home with whistle-activated light bulbs, an automated fan system, and a steam-hydraulic vehicle for when he doesn’t want to wear his wheeled shoes around. After he discovers that man can travel at 50mph via experiments with steam-powered rockets, he goes to announce his discoveries to the Royal Academy of Science. The Royal members, though, are unimpressed. Desperate to earn the respect of his fellow scientists Fogg makes an incredible wager: if he can make it around the world in 80 days he replace Lord Kelvin and become the new head of the Academy. However, if he loses, he must publically denounce his inventions, destroy his laboratory, and never enter the Academy again. With the assistance of his newly acquired French-Chinese valet, Passepartout, Fogg sets out to complete his quest. The journey already promises to be difficult from the word go, but the sabotages set upon them by Lord Kelvin, as well as a mysterious assembly of Chinese assassins focused on Passepartout, this wager could cost Fogg more than he bargained for.
Bottom Line: Filled with steam powered inventions, colorful cravats, and a hilarious collection of unexpected guest appearances this movie is an all around delightful.
Evan Butterfield is a photographer based out of California. His work covers a wide array of topics, but lately he’s found he has an exceptional eye for steampunk.
Starting with custom created costumes and accessories with models enthusiastic about dress-up, Mr. Butterfield’s finished pieces encompass the best of traditional and digital photography. The images begin as detail-oriented traditional photographs that are then digitally manipulated to create a unique, antiqued look. Many images are faded, other crinkled, and some so meticulously edited that they look like they were lost in a drawer for generations.
Originally trained in English and a holding a degree in Law, Mr. Butterfields’s inspiration comes from his passion for literature and the steampunk butterfly affect: the notion that things are so dramatically altered by one small technological change. He credits The Difference Engine and The Diamond Age as his gateway and various conventions as his visual inspiration. In all of his steampunk works, he represents what he calls the “triple goddesses” of this particular SciFi aesthetic: Curiosity, Progress, and Science.
“It all comes down to the stories being told,” he said during our lovely phone conversation, “re-imagined into photo reality”. This reimaging comes in a variety of formats, from his series of literary themed pictures to turning Victorian sexism on its head through a series of “Steampunk Beefcake” shoots.
Even though his art is labeled SciFi, Evan Butterfield has a much more down to Earth feeling about the genre. “Despite all the gears steampunk is not divorced from reality,” he says, “its just playing with themes that have always been there – using them to connect.” This enthusiasm and social understanding of the esthetic come through with every image, and I personally cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.
Audience: Teens and Adults, groups up to 10 persons
Time Frame: One hour per session
Tables and chairs
Computer and projector
Ideal: Tour of collections
Honorarium for guest speakers
The Federal Depository Library Program is a plan by the Federal Government designed to provide free, guided access to a variety of government publications. These include Hearings, Supreme Court decisions, and less spot-light publications like geographic studies, and Patent Office collections. For full details see the Government Printing Office site: http://www.gpo.gov/libraries/public/
These collections offer incredible insight into US history, and it’s true, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Working in collaboration with your local government documents librarian, create a series of workshops highlighting the pieces of the collection that would be of value to steampunk writers, costumers, or just your general Victorian history buff. Topics to consider are:
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office- crazy brilliant inventions from the Wild West to the elite leisure creations of Edwardian 5th Avenue. Research the technologies people hoped to create as a way to build your own steampunk worlds.
Bureau of Indian Affairs collections – understand the realities of Natives in Victorian America and see the language authentic to the period.
Maps – Many Regional Depositories collect maps and other geographic publications. These show how regions of the US changed over time and how those changes affected the people living in those areas. Original copies may also include fold-out illustrations that were hand-created, a respectable form of employment for women of the day.
Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee- Started in 1869 as the Committee on Education and in 1884 through the mid-1900s it was known as the Education and Labor Committee these papers give insight into the mental and health state of the US. These realities add authenticity to any steampunk story.
US Code and State Statues- What laws were in affect in 1880 that aren’t now? What states had public decency laws regarding swimsuits? What about immigration in 1897? Searching through old copies of federal and state legal volumes can add the details needed to make every costume realistic and every story true to period.
National Novel Writing Month – every November writers of all levels take the challenge to write a full novel (or at least a good chunk of one) in the month of November. The challenge is supported through social media campaigns, writing groups, and web tracking via nanowrimo.org. The site also hosts postings related to writing help and organizes local events. As librarians, we can encourage writers to use the library as their writing space, research space, or just a place to come and get support as they take on hundreds of words a day. This project is designed to show that support while also spreading the word to those who may not have heard of NaNoWriMo. Images of canisters filled with tools to help writers have been floating around Tumblr and Pinterest, and the idea can be easily modified to help support Steampunk writers in November.
For each canister (likely a poster-tube, or for the thrifty a modified/sealed paper towel roll), instead of creating a generic kit, make them decorated and filled with cards with genre-specific sentence starters and other helpful pieces of inspiration. In addition to the coffee, pencils, and stack genre canisters might be filled with:
Steampunk: small pictures of Steampunk machines, note cards with quotes like “Steampunk creations may be mechanical, sculptural, or purely decorative… Whatever the application, the art celebrates a time when new technology was produced, not by large corporations, but by talented and independent artisans and inventors” from Art Donovan’s The Art of Steampunk (2011), tiny paper mustaches, top hats, and a small list of in house resources. The outside of the canister can be decorated with more paper top hats and closed with corset-lace styled ribbons.
Fantasy: A canister covered with a glittery paper dragon is attention grabbing no mater it’s location in the library. Filled with a wand, a list of online creature name generators, and quotes from J. K. Rowling, Tolkien, and Goodkind the magic is sure to start flowing.
Romance: A deep red canister filled with chocolates; who wouldn’t fall in love with a little chocolaty inspiration? Cards filled with synonyms for “love” (predilection, delight, adoration), pictures of the sunset, and a list ‘legitimate’ authors who also write romance (like Sabrina Jeffries who earned her PhD on James Joyce but makes her living writing romance) are sure to get blood pumping.
Children: NaNoWriMo isn’t just for grown-ups! This idea can also be easily modified for children, particularly during a day camp. Give each child a canister filled with a sentence starter (“Then suddenly the door opened”, etc), a few pictures, and a character name. Give them time to write a story using all the pieces from their canister and have them share with the group.
Space Needed: Film viewing room, book group meeting room
Film showing rights, if applicable
Custodial for rooms
Popcorn/snacks for movie nights
When you think of monsters who comes to mind? Frankenstein? Dracula? The Victorian monsters became the staple of the silver screen for a reason: their stories are equal parts terror and intrigue. Since there are so many film options now the monsters make themselves an easy pick for a mini-film festival.
The festival can be stand-alone, or tied in to other programs, like a book group. The original story behind the films are very short (Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Portrait of Dorian Grey) which are well suited for teen readers. For adults Frankenstein, Dracula, or a Jack the Ripper novel lend themselves to longer book group discussions. The film showings are a great way to stir up interest and advertise the book groups to an audience with a noted interest.
Space Needed: horizontal book display space – or image display space
Budget Considerations: none (unless printing images of the poems for display)
Spine poetry is a display that has been floating around Flickr, Pinterest, and Tumblr. It’s very simple: you take the titles of books, as displayed by their spines, and create poems by stacking books so their titles create a small poem, joke, or story. For example three books titled Through the Looking Glass, Bad Cat, and Go Ask Alice become a short story by stacking them to read Bad Cat/ Through the Looking Glass?:/ Go Ask Alice. While this isn’t a steampunk only display it is a way to show the creativity of steampunk titles and the visual aspect of their covers by incorporating them into these spine-poems. It also shows the genre to people who may not normally look at them. These displays can be of the physical books, stacked on top of the shelves, or photographs of the book stack can be displayed on the walls. This would be a fun project for School Librarians who have TAs, or public libraries that have young volunteers. It allows creativity and is a great way to get familiar with your collection.