After an engagement celebration, a 1600 mile move, a new job, and finally finding/unpacking the box with my computer in it I am so glad to say WE’RE BACK! And just in time to start talking about Halloween prep; after all we have less than three months now!
Things you can expect in the next couple of weeks:
Thank you all so much for making this site such a success – it means so much to see how popular my posts have gotten and see the number of Twitter followers growing!
However, there will be a temporary pause (as you may have noticed) in posts while myself and tech-support/now fiance get moved. New job, new city, newly engaged, new adventure! Sadly, though, new posts will be delayed. I’ll return to my two post a month on Monday’s schedule as soon as everything is all settled.
As soon as my video-making area is back up and running
You can always keep up to date on all things steam by following on Twitter (@SteamLib) which will remain unchanged in activity since I can do that all via smartphone data. You can also submit your own posts to email@example.com and those can go up as soon as I get them.
Again, sorry for the delay but we’ll be back and better than ever soon!
Consultation prize: a steampunk-esque music video from the French group Dionysos.
Read If You Like: Steampunk that reads like fantasy, Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn
When an airship captain, a blind man, a girl child, and an adorable creature called Trill arrive at Firnis Eld to steal a corpse nothing seems amiss. The arrive in port via the airship Lamprey just in time of the big festival, the perfect distraction. They have tools, and they have a prophecy to guide them, they have a plan. That is until the find out that corpse isn’t dead. Perhaps things will go anything but according to plan.
The world in which Firnis Eld exists is full of steampunk universe, however that universe is not to my personal taste. While the technology is impressive, I found myself remembering all elements of the story except that technology. Each steampunk element or plot point always seems to be paired with (and often over shadowed by) a biological creation or cultural point that make a much bigger impact than the tech in the background. The cultural and biological pieces in Steel & Sky are creative and pleasantly complex, however that’s not what I look for when I read steampunk: I prefer science-fiction to science/fantasy.
While perhaps not my personal favorite item promoted on this website, it has inspired me to seek out Mr. Cummins’ other steampunk work, Chronicles of Aesirium, to see if those are written more to my taste. I do suggest this book for tween or HiLo teen readers who might find traditional steampunk in Victorian English too stuffy. It’s also a great suggestion to bring fantasy readers into the genre.
Creator: Mary Shelley (novel) Written/Produced by Judith B. Shields, Directed by Syd Lance
Media Type: Feature Film, 84 minutes
Audience: Family Friendly (but use your best judgment with extra-small children)
Summary: This micro-budget, independent film adaptation from First Step Cinematics, Frankenstein’s Monster tells the story of The Monster, his creator, and the lives ruined in the name of mad science. Following the original frame narrative the film opens with Dr. Victor Frankenstein being saved at sea. He befriends the vessel’s captain and spins his tale of the creation of the murderous Adam, his science project made from the pieces of the dead and subtle steam-powered mechanics. Unlike the novel the story is told through third-person perspective across a single time-line and allows for insight and conversation with non-primary characters. These characters desperately try to help Victor maintain his sanity, but how can a man keep his wits with a monster on the loose and no one to stop it but himself? This adaptation is the most true to the source material I’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t mean it is without differences — most noticeably the inclusion of dream sequences and the removal of portions of Adam’s story.
The overall feeling is more like a play being recorded than it is a feature film, which helps keep its novel like feeling since the focus is on the characters and their dialog, not flashy creation scenes and gory monsters. One major flaw of the film, though, is the delivery of that dialog. All the dialog is in early 19th century English, not modern English and unfortunately the actors fell victim to what many Shakespearean actors do: the dialog felt memorized instead of free-flowing and emotionally driven. At two instances the speech pattern felt so odd I half expected them to break out into song. However the music is so well put together you don’t lose the emotion of the moment even when the language delivery is off.
Bottom Line: It may not win any Oscars, but I highly suggest it for classrooms and libraries that want a visual companion for the novel. It will likely keep younger viewers’ attention better than a recorded play thanks to it’s score and sweeping artistic landscape shots.
Happy Holidays readers, bloggers, and librarians! Please excuse the lack of posts this month, holiday travel and family time has taken me away from the site temporarily. New reviews will be coming in the New Year!
In the interim, you can still send in your reviews, recommendations, photos, and more to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow updates (including last minute gift ideas) via Twitter @SteamLib.
Enjoy your winter celebrations everyone!
Need something to break-up the Twelve Days of Christmas? My suggestion is modern classical string sounds with pop-catchiness. Can’t be done? It can! This mix of modern and classical is perfect for setting the holiday feel without having to hear “Santa Baby” ever again. Contemporary chamber music is also the perfect soundtrack for your next Steampunk tea date or for your book clubs post-meeting-mingle-music.
Vitamin String Quartet, Dallas String Quartet, Apocalyptica, and 2Cellos all do classical style covers of everything from Lady Gaga to Kansas to Metalica. Their music is available via YouTube, Pandora, and iTunes. For a great Holiday mix you don’t have to monitor hook Pandora up to some speakers and add a mix of these classic-covers into an incredible, crowd-pleasing channel.
A little Christmas treat! Evan Butterfield, who was a featured artist here in the summer, has a new interview out with fellow Steampunk site Airship Ambassador (airshipambassador.wordpress.com). Give it a read, and don’t forget to send in your reviews, comments, site shares, and art with us at email@example.com or via Twitter @SteamLib.
Airship Ambassador: Hi Evan, thanks for joining us!
Evan Butterfield: It’s a pleasure.
AA: What is Gentlemen of Steampunk about?
EB: Well, “about” could get a little complicated, because it’s not a story with a plotline, but let’s give it a try. I’ll do a short answer and a long one, and you can sort it out.
The short answer is that it’s a collection of photos of attractive, athletic men wearing Steampunk clothing, who seem to have forgotten to put on their shirts.
The long answer is a little more complicated. It’s about a few things. The first is part of my ongoing world-building effort. I have this Steampunk world in my head that is a little bit unpleasant in some ways, and a little bit better than ours in others, and in…
Have you been/are you planning on participating in the National Novel Writing Month (known to most folks as NANOWRIMO) challenge? We wanna hear about it! Email documents, comments, and links to submissions[at]steampunklibrary[dot]net.
Share your vlog updates; share your stories; share your favorite author podcast about tips for writing. If you need inspiration, you’re not alone, so send us your favorite steampunk story, website, or artwork and we’ll post it here and via the Steampunk Library Project Twitter page (@SteamLib) to help inspire your fellow participants.
Is your library (or school, or book group, or even just you and your friends) hosting a NANOWRIMO event? Check out this nifty idea for creating novel finishing kits.
Wanna learn more about NANOWRIMO and how to get involved? Visit the official website for all the details.
Good luck to all participants in the 2014 challenge!
Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).
Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @SteamLib.
Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:
Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.
Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?
Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.
Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.
Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story
Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story
Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,
Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.
When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.
Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.
Halloween is my favorite time of year: crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, costumes, make-up, parties, and of course the annual revival of “Hocus Pocus”. This post is all about bringing steampunk into your library (or home, or community center) for Halloween. Some ideas are wholly steam-themed while others are ways to add some Victorian flair to any Halloween program.
Have your own favorite program for Halloween, or pictures from a successful event? Have it hosted on the site by sending it to email@example.com. You can also share pictures of events, costumes, and more with us on Twitter @SteamLib.
Program Type: Film Series/Book Group
Time Frame: Varies
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.
Program: Steam-Themed Family Masquerade
Time Frame: 2 hours
Space Needed: Open floor space for dancing, tables for snacks, and tables for crafts
• Custodial services
• Food (finger munchies and candy)
• Craft supplies (felt, glue, craft sticks, glitter, small paper hats, white and black fabric masks, etc)
For a family-friendly Halloween event host a masquerade! Invite community members to come in costume and read scary stories, share treats, dance a little, and give their kids a reason to put on their costume again. Starting just before the event and running throughout allow guests to make their own party mask. This is easily made steam-y by providing gears, gold glitter, small Lego octopus creatures, and lace to adorn the DIY masks. Costume contest categories can also be made steam by having a category for Victorian Monsters or book characters.
P.S. The library blog Ms Kelly at the Library has great Halloween party games for kids
Looking for a grown-ups only party? Easily make the masquerade into a Victorian Murder Mystery night! Have your guests dress in their best steampunk attire (help them feel inspired to start a custom costume project) There are dozens of sites with downloadable party templates and ideas and some include hosting tips. These party templates can then be altered to have The Parasol Protectorate’s dashing Lord Akeldama as man of the hour, or Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker Machine as a murder weapon.
Don’t forget to include all your steampunk favorites into your Halloween book displays and bulletin boards! What better to bring fear into a reader’s heart than a mad scientist, a sea monster, or a vampire with an impeccably perfect cravat? Inspire Victorian costume by highlighting fashion histories, DIY sewing/craft books, and the colorful covers of YA steampunk in your collection. Steampunk art books also liven up a display and show the genre in it’s best season.
Over the weekend (Sept 26-28) Seattle was host for the First Annual Steamposium, a new steampunk convention filling the gap felt in the community after SteamCon Seattle fell through after five years. I must admit I was skeptical that Steamposium would be able to fit the bill given how quickly they pulled everything together: I have rarely been so pleased to be so wrong.
I hosted a one-hour panel during the Friday 3pm block that was one part discussion about the Steampunk Library Project and one part book talk about my favorite pieces to create a core steampunk library. Despite my nerves causing my originally 35 minute presentation to only last 27 minutes, the event as a whole was quite a success! There were lots of questions, interest in the specific books I discussed, and over a dozen attendees.
Over the course of the weekend I gave out about 100 buisness cards: people taking them at the panel, giving them to people I talked to, a small stack to the Other Worlds Book vendor table, and a few strategically left at the water table. Thank you so much to everyone who turned out to support this project. I’m looking forward to my next wave of content updates including a lot of community input and new reviewers.
I believe the Steamposium creators learned several valuable lessons from the business failings of SteamCon, and one of those lessons had to do with location. The Bell Harbor International Convention Center was a fantastic venue: on the water, walking distance to Pike Place Market, and surrounded by food and parking. The water made for a great background for photos, a ton of which can be found via the Steamposium Flickr and Steamposium Twitter. Be sure to look for Steampunk Iron Man and Boba Fett.
Add-Ons: I loved being able to really customize my con experience by choosing which events I wanted to buy tickets for and which I didn’t.
Variety: I loved the variety of material presented in the panel schedule.
Artist Gallery: The quality of authors and artist present at the con was phenomenal! There was a wide range of talent and really showcased the variety in our little subculture. Some artists and authors I recommend searching for include:
And my favorite part of the experience: Steam Powered Giraffe.
I had the opportunity to do a photo-op and visit the autograph table on Saturday. During the photo I completely forgot my name and only barely redeemed myself during the autograph session. I fully intended to go to the table and express my admiration for the band and share how they were a founding piece of this project (and therefor a major piece in completing my Masters) but I’m fairly certain I only awkwardly shook their hands and babbled a bit. Ah well, still the highlight of the weekend.
This may be more of a difference in priorities, but I wish the convention had more panels and fewer dances. Personally, I’d rather keep attending sessions and meeting with writers and cosplayers than attend a second set of parties and cabarets.
Along the same lines, timing was an issue. The panels and merchant hall would open at 10am (noon on Friday), but would be all wrapped up at 5pm. As someone who was traveling down from the suburbs for the events, I would have liked it if things had started a little later and ran a little later into the evening, particularly on Friday as I felt a lot of panels I attended suffered from low attendance since many Seattleites were likely still at work during the bulk of 12-4pm time slots.
For me, the pros greatly outweigh any negatives I felt towards the scheduling. It was a well put together event in a great location and had a wide variety of offerings for everyone. And it gave me the opportunity to talk about this little project with a lot of people I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.
Bottom Line: Will I be going again? Absolutely! In fact, you can already pre-purchase full weekend passes for only $40 on their site now. Look for another update once they begin accepting panel/workshop applications.
Please share your experiences from Steamposium 2014 in the comments below or send your thoughts and pictures to share via firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @SteamLib.