Mar 17, 2014

Steampunk and the Neo-Victorian World

Dr. Loveless, "Wild, Wild West"
Steampunk is the lifestyle that continues to remain in the United States, Canada, UK and other nations. Yet, it is not a fad but a culture and lifestyle in itself. It has a history longer than you would think. It has become a lucrative and profitable industry. It even has kicked in “Motor City”, Detroit, despite its falling into ruin from corruption and bankruptcy. The TV series, Wild, Wild West and subsequent remake is based upon Neo-Victorian in the American West; Steam-powered contraptions created by the master villain [Dr. Loveless] that the heroes must face. There is even The Steampunk Tribune, “reporting on Steampunk since 2007”. But its the gadgets that seem to attract onlookers and customers. 


But what is Steampunk exactly?
As G.D. Falksen wrote:
Queen Victoria - 1887
In three short words, steampunk is Victorian science fiction. ...”Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century. Historically, this period saw the development of many key aspects of the modern world ...and steampunk uses this existing technology and structure to imagine an even more advanced 19th century, often complete with Victorian-inspired wonders like steam-powered aircraft and mechanical computers. ...steampunk has existed since the 19th century ...perhaps most famously embodied by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and throughout the 20th century ...science fiction stories set in the Victorian period. However, the term “steampunk” was not coined until the late 1980s, when author K.W. Jeter used it humorously to describe a grouping of stories set in the Victorian period …
In 2001, this Victorian era, named after Queen Victoria of Great Britain, is a world-theme utilized in a role-playing video game developed by Troika Games and published by Sierra Entertainment. It was entitled, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. The game helped to create a following that led to Steampunk and its culture concept described in Victorian science fiction. The game was the best and the first “open-ended RPG of its time, and still continues to enjoy RPG players following.
The word ARCANUM can be found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary …
1 : mysterious or specialized knowledge, language, or information accessible or possessed only by the initiate – usually used in plural.
2 : Elixir.
The word originated from Latin derived from the word arcanus, like arcanus secret; first known use was in the 15th century. The world consists of a continental mainland and three islands where various races live that resemble the creations of Tolkien and players can choose which race they can role play as. It is a fantasy world of magic and technology intertwined.
As far as the world Steampunk, Jonathan Strickland provides a colorful description in his steampunk “How Stuff Works” article:
Flickering gas lamps puncture a thick London fog. A metallic, rhythmic noise begins to drown out the normal sounds of the evening. An army of copper clockwork automatons comes marching out of the darkness. Overhead, a looming dirigible barely clears the tallest buildings. Brass nozzles emerge from the airship's gondola, blasting fire down upon the rooftops. This is the world of steampunk.
Another good description in two words: speculative fiction.
Steampunk modified computer - designed by Jake von Slatt
Creating gadgets and redesigning existing technology into the enigmatic world of steampunk is one of Jake von Slatt's specialties – like his steampunked computer keyboard. Working out of his workshop in Boston, Massachusetts he has intertwined technology with the romance of the Victorian period culture and technology. He has a Steampunk Workshop blog that is impressive as well as a YouTube video site. Recently he added a 3D printing system to create steampunk items.
His old bus Motor Coach is quite awesome with the theme of its d├ęcor being Steampunked, as he demonstrates in the following video:

Star Trek, Scotty in Victorian
Another term for Steampunk is Neo-Victorianism. The Victorian Web has a good explanation and introduction into Neo-Victorian concept and introduction to its studies.
I became interested in Steampunk because of my interest and admiration of the Victorian period of history, its culture, its literary works, inventions, and architecture. It was a time when many things, including Christmas cards in the 1890s and early 1900s were handmade works of art – an example of things of quality workmanship that seems to have been lost despite the continual increase in the cost of products. Steampunk has worked its way into the art world.
Museum Collectibles
It was in that period that John Moses Browning, genius American gunsmith, designer and inventor, created his array of firearms. It was when architecture became a work of art, like it was in previous periods in human history; and homes had parlors for entertaining their guests, where the parlor games were created. The horseless carriage was beginning to take hold in society, those that could afford them – while horses still pulled carriages and wagons, but becoming less visible in daily activities. Inventors were trying to master machines that could fly, but travel by train and sea going vessels was still the main conveyance of traveling far distances. I do not necessarily like the Victorian period clothing; however the Neo-Victorian, Steampunk movement has taken clothing from the fictitious works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, as well as archaeologists, explorers, adventurers and the like to create costume-clothing outfits and accessories that is part of the steampunk culture. Most clothing sold at sites like Steampunk Threads, Steampunk Emporium and Gentlemen's Emporium are pricey, but good quality clothing you can wear everyday and not cheap costumes just for parties and costume balls.
Steampunk: Museum Collectibles
After this article there will be a carousel of Steampunk clothing and accessories available through
Amazon.
You can see that Steampunk has taken hold in popularity and the remarkable and ingenious gadgets people have come up with, some in working order through gears and others just steampunk dressing for existing computer-age hardware and accessories.
William Higham wrote in The Blog, Huffington Post, UK (2011):
Steampunk is the most famous new trend that you've never heard of. To those in the know it's been around for years … The first steampunk (SP) convention took place in 2006: and the word was actually added to The Oxford English Dictionary last year. … In its glibbest sense, it can be seen as a way of giving your personal technology a goth make-over. ...a trend that's sneaking its way into loads of different sectors: from fashion to film, interior design to video games. … High tech Victoriana can be found in Disney's '50s and '60s adaptations of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to contraptions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. ... It now has become a heavily adopted style – a lifestyle. … It has reignited a love of “old fashioned” materials: brass and copper, [Frankly I am sick of chrome, I would rather have brass trim on, say, a motorcycle] wood, glass, mechanical workings, ornate engraving. It has also co-opted the re/upcycling aesthetic in its love of the old, the repaired, the reworked and the imperfect. … The look is also starting to influence street fashion … the 'best' looks of the Victorian era – explorers, soldiers, countesses, lords and prostitutes – to today's most relevant street styles: goth, burlesque, the fetishism of the Suicide Girls, the lace and leather of pirates, and the frills and capes of vampires. …TV series like the BBC's latest Sherlock Holmes adaptation and US thriller Warehouse 13 owe a debt to steampunk style in their mixing of the 19th and 21st centuries, as do the later Harry Potter films. …being raised in an era of new freedoms, where boundaries are constantly blurring, and by parents determined not to impose “stuffy rules” or prejudices on their offspring, can be a disorientating experience. Many Millennials are therefore drawn to eras and trends with rules and boundaries … The age also seems particularly exciting and mysterious, with its glamorous clothes and uniforms, intrepid explorers, dastardly villains and dusty labs …
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Indeed, sites like The Art of Manliness has become popular among the male gender, harking back to the Victorian age when men were not afraid to be men, but still retaining the 21st century tendency not to be “macho”. I guess, I am part of the Neo-Victorian mindset, “steampunker” because I have gone back to shaving with a safety razor and/or straight razor like I did in my youth when my father taught me the fine art of a clean shave – and barber shops still offered steam toweling the face and the close shaves that only a straight razor can provide. I went back because spending $25 for three replacement blades for my high-tech razor was absurd. Besides, double-blade, triple-blade and the modern styling did not achieve the closeness of a well-made safety razor. To me it is a relief from the ghetto 'laid-back” style of today, to more gentlemanly and neat appearance; which inadvertently brings about more self-esteem and personal confidence without being “stuffy”. True, the leatherwork accessories offered are expensive – but last so much longer (you can actually pass it on as a family heirloom) than the cheap crap nylon crap on the shelves today – most of which is made in China or Vietnam.  
The Art of Manliness has great tips and do-it-yourself projects like How to Make a Table from a Whiskey Barrel. You end up not only making great stuff, but become involved in an actual hobby instead of sitting in front of a computer for hours. Steampunk, therefore, is a great cultural movement towards the character and integrity of cultural Victorian majority populace – but still have the great gadgets and high-tech stuff of the 21st century. The creators of this stylish culture, to me, were geniuses.
Would it not be refreshing to also bring back the English language spoken in that age when the dictionary was not subdivided into an “urban dictionary” and people could communicate without using a four-letter word in every sentence? It could happen if we get the progressives out of our education system and away from the federal government and return it back to the state and local governments with oversight from parent-teacher teamwork. 
We could once again become the top five best educational countries instead of 25th, and the youth of the future would actually expected to achieve standards set to produce knowledgeable citizens that Thomas Jefferson talked and dreamed about. No more dumbing-down educational curriculum, where healthy academic competition can once again be looked upon as something other than “unfair” to those who have no desire to learn or do not want to work toward their academic goals.
Here are some examples of what youth today do not have a clue about, offered at The Art of Manliness blog:
G.D. Falsen is an author, lecturer, public speaker, MC and Neo-Victorian Steampunker. He is also an historian and is a consultant for Disney and blogs like Tor.com and ComicMix.com. Currently, a 'jack-of-several-trades' – he is most noted for his steampunk work, being the foremost figure in steampunk literary genre and subsequent subculture.
Falsen is the author of The Hellfire Chronicles series and other fiction. His work has appeared in Steampunk Tales, Steampunk Magazine, The Chap, Egophobia, and anthologies like Footprints, Steampunk Reloaded, and The Immersion Book of Steampunk. He can be found at YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages and even provides a contact email.
Steampunk, Neo-Victorian clothing and accessories are even being used at weddings with accessories like the wedding garter complete with flask for nipping away wedding day jitters.
There was a Steampunk Cruise from February 23rd to March 2nd and if you missed that there is a Midwest Media Expo from April 25th to April 27th 2014. Facebook has several Steampunk pages available if you are in the social scene. 
As you can see, it is part of the music world, as the following video presents:
New Orleans style post-modern jazz:
Or how about 1950s …
How about bluegrass, honky-tonk? …
How about the Roaring Twenties – Flappers and Speakeasy …
I can see why people are getting into the Steampunk thing. The next is a combination of post-modern and traditional Swing, a dance number …




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