TOR Dot Com didn’t do a full month of Steampunk this year, but they are doing a Steampunk Fortnight. Besides the many articles they have posted in the 42 or so hours since they started, they have also posted two excellent stories: Clockwork Fairies by Cat Rambo, and The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. And if you can’t get enough Steampunk there, consider becoming a part of the project to Build the Charles Babbage Analytical Engine, as posted by the BBC. As someone who has ranted about Ada and Charlie, inventor of computer programming and the computer respectively back in the 1830’s, you probably already know I am supporting this one!
Not exactly two words I thought I would have been putting together in the Title area, but true none the less. So lets check out a few small but intense examples… and the fact that they are from radically different parts of the world tells you this is an art form that is well appreciated. These are the best examples I have found to date.
Steampunk is always fun, so to start today we have The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing doing their song GOGGLES, which as far as I know is the only song to be released on wax cylinder since 1922 (although They Might Be Giants recorded a song on an Edison cylinder in 1996, but it was released on CD). Most of Steampunk is home made DIY projects, so it should be no surprise that if you want to listen to the cylinder, you will have to build the player. While nowhere near on a par with the technical precision of the Edison cylinder phonograph with electric pickup built by Norman Bruderhofer and Matthias Menz, it is a bit more true to the technology of the times that never were.
Next up we have the video for Vernian Process’s Crime of the Century, and interesting piece that embraces 1980s Glam Rock with 1880s stylistic sensibilities. And since Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown, I felt the need to include The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello, a wonderful little 2005 Australian film set in a world of airships and steam driven computers. The first true computers were steam driven, mechanical devices built by Babbage and programmed by Lovelace.
Abney Park is one of my favorite Steampunk bands, as I have mentioned here before. They have a new CD coming out soon, The End Of Days, so I am using that as my excuse to post about their music once again. The first video is their lead singer, Captain Robert, taking a joyride over Seattle in the Airship Eureaka. I am sure it will be no surprise that the audio backing is one of their own songs. The second video is a live version of their signature song, Airship Pirates. Following that, we have The Death of the Cog, a song from another band called The Cog is Dead, singing against the invention of the digital watch which killed Clockpunk. The final band, Sunday Drivers, I could not find a decent video of in their Steampunk style, so I had to make do with an interview clip. To pull it all together, we have the Song vs. Song vs. Song initial presentation from Changing Habit; he may not be able to dance, but he does have a unique appreciation for nonstandard (i.e., non-boring) music.
A while back I mentioned the Karakuri, the 16th through 18th century Japanese robots, or programmable clockwork dolls. Nor did it end there; the Karakuri continued to develop in the following centuries, becoming the basis for the development of an advanced robotics industry in that country.
There is an anime series dedicated to the Meiji period and Karakuri called Clockwork Fighters Hiwou’s War that I would like to recommend. Besides being a great Giant Robot series (but the robots are made out of wood and brass, and driven by springs or steam) it is a fun quest-type adventure where a group of kids are out to find their father and save their village. But like Carmen Sandiego, it includes some quality education embedded in the entertainment. The story begins eight years after the port is opened up to ships from the west, a time of cultural and political turmoil that is nicely represented in the program. Many of the people they meet are historical figures, some already famous and some on their way to getting there, and we get to learn a bit about each of them, their attitudes and actions both. Additionally, in virtually every episode there are little 15 to 45 second pieces that give still more of the background and events happening that help put the story into focus, but are also historically accurate. The animation is good and the voice acting is great; this is very definitely worth your time to check out.
I enjoy all Variations of Steampunk, from Clockpunk to Gaslamp Fantasy, and what could be more steampunk than H.G. Wells War of the Worlds as performed by Trek stars? You can hear it stream online for another few days yet only, so don’t wait to listen. I also thought a song might be fun to share, and Abney Park just uploaded a remastered MUCH higher quality version of Airship Pirates at the beginning of the month. The Gatehouse Gazette has a good article this week about Victorian Halloween and another on the Steampunk variations of H. P. Lovecraft, and MTV has a video you might want to check out as well.