Fiction review: Day of the Dragons, episodes 1 & 2

BY P.S. CHAMBERS
Publisher: Penny Gaff Publishing
reviewed by Leanne Tough

Day of the Dragons: Ballroom BlitzAnother triumph for Penny Gaff Publishing, this time delivered by author P.S. Chambers. Day of the Dragons: Girl in the Corner and Day of the Dragons: Ballroom Blitz are two novella-length stories in the Clockhaven Chronicles series produced by Penny Gaff but in a very different style to A Drop of the Venom by Andrew McCurdy that I reviewed earlier this year. They are the first two in a four-part serialisation. Once again, the reader is presented with beautiful illustrations and gorgeous ‘antiqued’ pages, showing just how ebooks should be done, making up for the loss of that delightful paper book smell. (And at no more than $1.99 per epic tale, one can’t argue.) Then there’s the stories themselves: plenty of action, adventure, and twists in all the right places.

Both stories follow Stanislaus Pulaski, an American engineer whose success gets him more than he bargained for. Episode one sees him on the peaceful island of Curacao, transforming from indentured genius-engineer to unwitting hero caught up in a bitter conflict between the Empire and the rebels within. Episode two finds our hapless hero still caught up in situations beyond his ken, helped (or rather hindered) by his friends and still determined to continue his own work. Plus, the author throws a little romance and a lot of excitement into the bargain.

I’d highly recommend that you download them, curl up with your tablet, and enjoy. Preferably with a strong cup of tea to steady your nerves–though I can’t promise it won’t go cold.

Madeline Foxtrot’s “No Torque Zone”: An interview with The Airship Ambassador, Kevin Steil, Part 2

Now that we have a fresh pot of tea we are once again entering Madeline Foxtrot’s No Torque Zone is The Airship Ambassador, Kevin Steil. Kevin was nice enough to tell me a little bit about what he does and his completely incorrect view of Steampunk. You can see the first part of my interview here. I figured since we know about what you do we should also ask a little bit more personal questions. So I must ask Kevin… is there a Misses Ambassador?

KS: Oh, Madeline! Why might you be enquiring about that? Personal or professional interest?

But to be quite open and honest, there is no Miss, Misses, or Ms. Ambassador. The only women in my life are my two girls, Tegan and Arianna.

MF: I had no idea you were a werewolf!

KS: Well I lovingly adopted them.

Tegan is named after one of my favorite characters on Doctor Who, Tegan Jovanka, the brash, outspoken Australian airline attendant who stumbles into the Doctor’s life and travels. Arianna is named after the music form, aria. Coincidentally, in the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore’s sister’s name is Arianna.

However, there is an opportunity for a Mister Ambassador. I don’t suppose you might know of any suitable candidates to join the Airship?

MF: Hmmmm. That’s a bit… Um. I wish you wouldn’t push this on me. You know your “Gay Agenda.”

KS: Well, Madeline if you don’t know anyone, you can just say so. If your friends and acquaintances don’t reflect your high standards and interesting nature, well, that’s no crime against you. I wouldn’t think any less of you.

But pushing an agenda to meet more people around the world? No, no, no.

MF: It’s not- It’s just that- See, but we’re still talking about it

KS: You haven’t denied knowing someone suitable, yet. In fact, do you know …

MF: I think it might be best to move on.

KS: Oh. I understand, you minx! We’ll talk privately later.

MF: Refresh your tea?!?

KS: Yes, please. I’ll pour. This is my new favorite teapot, from the 1880s, and my Russian tea glasses.

MF: Good! Especially in these times we must support Russian commerce!

KS: Nothing but the best for you, Madeline.

MF: What do you see as the future of Steampunk?

KS: The Aetheric Ball™ seems to indicate the current trends – book sales are down although new stories are still being written and released. The number of conventions is down slightly but smaller local events are up. Attendance to the cons seems to be holding steady with some slight increases, and the smaller events are attracting more mainstream attendees and interest. Non-USA participation is way up, with each country and culture bringing their own unique perspective and creativity to the fore.

Music and artwork keeps growing, and fashions are exploding! Steampunks are definitely some of the most creative people of any interest and fan group. Accessories seems to be good business – jewelry, hats, corsets, and full outfits. People just want to look absolutely smashing!

Overall, steampunk will see its own cycle of less and then more interest. Mainstream interest will eventually move on to the Next Big Thing, but I believe that interest in steampunk will remain and endure. It will always appeal to a certain group of people, and that group may grow and shrink, but it will always be there.

Some things that would help maintain that interest, though, would be increased book sales and online feedback, blog feedback, social media sharing, and a really good steampunk movie would be fantastic! Each of those things become a rallying point and are causes for celebration.

MF: There have been LOADS of good Steampunk Movies though. Van Hellsing, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Wild Wild West… They’re of a certain caliber that The Mainest of Main Stream Media just doesn’t undertstand.

KS: Well… They’re of a certain caliber I will give you that Madeline…

At the very least, we can support each other, in all our different ways, in all our different lives, and continue to share our interests.

(Oh, and dieselpunk will probably be the next thing to capture mainstream attention. 1920s and 30s fashion design, The Charleston, and art deco!)

MF: Trick question! Steampunk is the future of the past today, therefore it’s today, therefore Steampunk has no future only present.

KS: Then cheers to living in the moment!

MF: You interview a lot of people, many of them famous, some of them up and coming. Why bother with the up and comers? Why not just stick to famous people?

KS: I suppose the easy answer is that all of the ‘famous’ people were once ‘up and coming’ themselves. Everyone starts somewhere down the ladder, and even Cherie Priest remarked how some people called her an ‘overnight success’ despite nearly a decade of struggling and trying.

Some people are common steampunk-household names, and they are great fun to chat with. I always enjoy hearing their stories, their perspectives, their journeys. When I see them in person at various events, they are just like anyone else and we laugh and joke as the friends we are.

Up and coming people may be catching their first break, just coming into the scene, or falling into it accidentally. They often have the benefit of those who have walked the path before them; they have grown up on steampunk, so to speak, and are now giving it their own stamp and expression.

The thing in common with both types of people I meet and talk with, is that they all DO something. They express their creativity in their own way, they make things happen – from the writers and artists and musicians to the convention and event organizers to the seamstresses and tailors. Their energy and efforts, their visions and drive, create the spaces for us to revel and celebrate in. They create our playground.

Of course, none of it would happen at all without all of us as fans and attendees. If we didn’t have the interest, the imagination, and the curiosity, there wouldn’t even be a steampunk community.

MF: But no one knows them, they’re still up and coming. Isn’t that like saying “Here, let me shoot my web traffic in the foot,”?

KS: Well, it might seem that way to ‘some people’, Madeline, but often, those ‘up and coming’ people already have some sort of following, steampunk or not, who stop by the Airship Ambassador blog and website to check things out, along with all of the other regulars.

Also, an inbox full of press releases and requests from publishers, entertainment companies, and TV stations would seem to be at odds with the premise of low web traffic and impact to the community and to mainstream interest.

MF: Now, you interview a lot of people, yet no one interviews you… people DO actually care about you, yes?

KS: Well, when you put it that way… yes, absolutely :)

Since you’ve asked, I’ve been interviewed by people and groups around the world;
Written book and magazine articles and introductions;
Been consulted and quoted by newspapers and tv shows;
Appeared in the book and movie, Vintage Tomorrows;
and have been a guest and speaker at conventions and events.
And there was that nomination, twice, over at Steampunk Chronicle for Steam-Hunk.
AND, I get some of the most wonderful fan mail from people. I’d like to say a special thank you to everyone who takes the time to say hi and chat with me at conventions. Thank you for all of your ongoing support!

Oh, I suppose that might sound like bragging. So enough about me, how about you Madeline? What have you done?

MF: Unfortunately our publisher couldn’t handle the printing cost of my resume. Plus I’m incredibly modest and a simple google search will reveal everything you need to know of me. But I would like to thank you so much for your time in the No Torque Zone. Tea has been lovely.

KS: The pleasure is mine Madeline-

MF: Yes Kevin. It is. If you would like to check out The Arship Ambassador you can find him at AirshipAmbassador.com, or if you’d like to watch my latest videos checkout DogtoonMedia.com or Youtube.com/User/NerdCaliber and search for Madeline Foxtrot Digestibles.

Madeline Foxtrot’s “No Torque Zone”: An interview with The Airship Ambassador, Kevin Steil

Welcome once again to my sporadically reoccurring segment on Steampunk magazine Online “Madeline Foxtrot’s No Torque Zone.”  As stated before I don’t deal with spin, only truth, and I refuse to let my interviewers have the force to move me on my convictions.  Sitting with me today in my palatial two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn  is none other than The Airship Ambassador Kevin Steil.  For those that do not know Kevin was nominated for Steam Hunk in Steampunk Chronicle’s Reader Choice Awards for 2013, and he was considered the “Number Five Worst Steampunk Cosplayer,” by a more prestigious source… Myself.  With that, Kevin, thank you for coming into the “No Torque Zone.”   I really appreciate it.

 

Kevin Steil: Thanks for the invitation, Madeline! I have really enjoyed watching your weekly videos, Monthly Tea with Madeline Foxtrot. Especially since you’ve included me twice already! I’m quite flattered by your attentions. And your son’s. Each episode has been very educational and enlightening. Maybe I should be interviewing you about all of your creativity.

Image of a teacup

MF:  Ah!  Thank you for plugging my show!  That saves me some breath-

 

KS:  It is my honour.

 

MF:  That it is… I haven’t heard a lot of “Steampunk News,” as of late so I assume your job as Ambassador is pretty boring right now?

 

KS: These days, there’s so much going on in the world of steampunk, it’s like a fire hose of information. I read a great deal from many sources, trying to keep up with everything, and honestly, it’s pretty difficult to know everything. Still, I try to keep in touch with the pulse of the global community.

 

There’s all kinds of artwork, web series, music, and fashion things going on that one could spend all day, even all week, and not scratch the surface of available content today.

 

For activities and events that I know about, those get added to the Events page on Airship Ambassador. There’s also a global map for conventions and groups. Conventions are big enough that they are easier to track and keep up with. There were 38 or so in 2012, with a large number being first time conventions. 2013 saw 30+. Sadly, several conventions didn’t survive their first year, and some just shut down completely.

 

The groups are more difficult to keep track of – they spring up and close fairly quickly, but the general trend is more groups and in more places all around the world, especially outside the United States.

 

Everyone is also welcome to send in their event and group information via the form on the Events page, and new items can be submitted, too, from the main page. It’s always great to hear about what’s going on, and getting the early info.

 

MF: So, Kevin, being the Airship Ambassador, you must act as a “Steampunk Gatekeeper.” So how do you decide who’s Steamy enough for Steampunk?

 

KS:  So “gatekeeper”? No, I think Airship Ambassador is a ‘gate-opener’, more of a reporter and broadcaster, finding the most interesting gems to share with everyone. Some might even call the Airship Ambassador blog and website their gateway drug into steampunk.

 

MF: So you’ll just let anyone be Steampunk?

 

KS:  yes, I do try to be as inclusive as possible.

 

MF:  Sounds very…  What’s the word?  Inclusionary, as evidenced by your quote.  If I know anything about the Victorians I know they were not the most inclusionary bunch.

 

KS: Ah, well, no, not always the best role models, those Victorians.

 

MF:  Maybe not but they are OUR role models as Steampunks.

 

KS:  The steampunk community is pretty wide ranging with plenty of opinions and perspectives.

 

MF:  Most of them wrong.

 

KS:  Each of us has our own definition and guiding ideals about what steampunk is or means, and even if I don’t personally agree with one statement or another, it is valid for someone else.

 

MF:  I completely disagree, it is my way or the sky way!

 

KS:  That is a valid point… in your definition of Steam-

 

MF:  OK then if each of us has “Our own definition,” enlighten me.  What is YOUR definition of Steampunk?

 

KS: My definition, and the guiding philosophy for my other project, The Steampunk Museum, is:

 

“a fictional story set in, or evocative of, the 19th century, and including real world devices created ahead of their time and/or imaginary devices based on prevailing theories of the era and/or prevalent ideas of the supernatural.”

 

I’ve also quite warmed up to the definition from the doctoral thesis by Dr. Mike Perschon, the Steampunk Scholar, that steampunk is an aesthetic which can be and has been applied to many genres and sub-genres, fashion, art, music, and even philosophy/politics.

 

With the amazing growth of steampunk in so many areas, this definition applies mostly to books and narratives, but could be used with the art, music, and fashions we see throughout the community. James Ng‘s Chinese steampunk artwork, The Watchmakers Apprentice by The Clockwork Quartet, and far too many amazing works of costuming also show similar traits and are great examples of steampunk expressions.

 

It’s all still evocative of the 1800’s around the world, but with some modern twist and viewed with modern sensibilities. As Mike would say, the filtering lenses of steampunk show how people of today imagine how people of the past imagine the future.

 

Steampunk is NOT Victorian science fiction, which is how people of the 1800s actually imagined their future. Books like 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and The Time Machine are the real Victorian age science fiction. They give us some idea of how those people thought and give us in the steampunk community a starting point for our (re)imaginings but truly, steampunk is a future that never was, based on that starting point.

 

Steampunk can be a bit alternate history, and a bit alternate world. Both work when we are being divergent.

 

MF: That’s an INTERESTING view of Steampunk but it’s 100% wrong.

 

KS: Oh, reeaally? Talk about divergent…

 

MF: I’d rather show some decorum and talk about the Steampunk Museum.

 

KS: Oh yes, both Airship Ambassador and The Steampunk Museum have offerings to the community. There’s the Airship Ambassador bookstore, and the Museum has a Gift Shop, because, well, what Museum doesn’t?

 

Our community is small enough that everyone’s support of each other is really important. We may not enjoy every book, and image, and song that’s out there, but it’s still important for everyone to participate and build the community to make it better. It might be leaving comments on blogs, watching the videos, or buying items from the small businesses in our community instead of the much larger commercial chains and stores.

 

MF: It’s true.  We should support more Mom and Pop shops like Wal Mart and Subway!

 

KS:  Well… At least your heart is in the right place.

 

MF:  Hmm. It would seem my cup is empty.  Would you mind pausing the interview while I brew some more?

 

KS:  Madeline, for you?  Anything.

 

MF:  Wonderful, if you’re reading this and would like to check out The Arship Ambassador you can find him at AirshipAmbassador.com, or if you’d like to watch my latest videos checkout DogtoonMedia.com or Youtube.com/User/NerdCaliber and search for Madeline Foxtrot Digestibles.

 

MS Fantasy Ball Overrun With Steampunk Goblins… Again.

Interview with Joy Halcott

by Kevin Steil

 

Steampunk Magazine: Hi Joy, thanks for joining us!

Joy Halcott: Hello!  I’m glad to be here.

 

SM: You’re involved in an upcoming steampunk themed Multiple Sclerosis event. Can you share a bit more about it?

JH: Hosted by Team Wench, Inc., the Multiple Sclerosis Fantasy Ball is an annual, themed, masquerade ball that raises money to benefit the National MS Society.  This year the costumed event takes place on Saturday, October 26th, 2013, from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, Maryland, USA. It features live entertainment, music and dancing, full open bar, complete dinner, raffles, contests, and more!

 

SM: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with multiple sclerosis, what is it and what challenges do people face who have it?

JH: Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and affects movement. Symptoms can range from mild numbness in the limbs to severe paralysis or loss of vision.  There is no current cure for MS.

 

SM: This year’s theme is Goblins and Gears III, presenting the conclusion to a story involving the Goblin Queen and a bit of steampunk time traveling. Sounds like it will be great fun! How did you first get involved?

JH: I became involved in 2001 with the planning of the first Multiple Sclerosis Fantasy Ball when I joined the charity organization, Team Wench, Inc.

 

SM: What were the first two years like?

JH: The Multiple Sclerosis Fantasy Ball is actually in its 7th year, but we have been doing a 3 year run with the current “Goblins & Gears” theme:

 

The first year of this theme was “Gobins and Gears – Science vs Magic!”   Our quirky Steampunk Professor was busy building his time machine. Unfortunately, when he turned it on, it didn’t work quite the way it was intended. Instead of a rift in time, it tore a rift into the Fae Realm, specifically into the Goblin Court. The Goblin Queen stepped through, liked what she saw, gathered her court, and proceeded to go on holiday at our Steampunk Ball. Mischief galore ensued! But in the end, she left peacefully.

 

The 2nd year was “Goblins and Gears II – The Gears Fight Back!” Our quirky Professor was supposed to dismantle his time machine. But, this being his lifelong work and his most loved invention, he put it off. When he finally worked himself up to do it, he couldn’t resist turning the machine on one last time. Unfortunately, the machine absorbed Fae Magic when the Court came through last year, and now had a life of its own. The Time Machine activated itself, opened the rift to the Goblin Court anew, and the Goblin Queen waved her court through for another holiday.  More mischief ensued.

 

SM: Ah, steampunks and their mischief! Are there pictures posted that people can see?

JH: Yes!  Pictures can be viewed on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MSFantasyBall, and on our main website at www.teamwench.org/msfb.

 

SM: What can attendees expect this year?

JH: This year is “Goblins and Gears III – Return of the Goblin!”  Our quirky Professor finally did dismantle his time machine, so that’s out. But there’s been rumors popping up everywhere – rumors of odd, clockwork-like creatures and a new, sexy (and strangely blue) type of time machine have emerged. Someone calling himself the Goblin King has also been seen wandering about flirting with young maidens. The Professor is fascinated, and suspects the Goblin Queen is up to something.  I look forward to finding out if he’s right! We will have Insane Ian doing (Weird Al style) song parodies, be rocked out by the bands Eli August & The Abandoned Buildings and Platform one, be tricked and entreated by the lovely Aubergine fairy belly dancers, and even witness a choreographed light saber duel by Capital City Jedi Knights. Not to mention the jail is being sponsored by the talented J&J Miracle Mead Men, and we’ll witness the return of several talented actors.

 

SM: Events like this certainly need a team to pull everything together. Who is helping put on this event this year?

JH: Members of Team Wench, Inc. and many other volunteers, including a lighting and sound technician, a costume shop, a tarot reader, a seated masseuse and a professional on-site portrait team, are involved.  Also, we could not even dream of putting on this event without the support of all the vendors that donate wonderful items to our charity raffle.

 

SM: Aside from all of the fun during the evening, this is a fundraiser. How will the proceeds be used?

JH: Proceeds are donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

 

SM: There are readers of Steampunk Magazine from around the world and sadly, not everyone can hope on an airship to get to Maryland in a timely manner. How can people who can’t attend contribute or help out?

JH: There are a number of ways that someone could contribute or help out.  Please feel free to contact me at joy@teamwench.org for more information.

 

SM: It’s great that Team Wench is a charitable organization and that people can help out in multiple way. Can you share anything about next year’s event?

JH: Actually, this is my last year.  I will be passing the baton on to a new Event Coordinator in 2014, so I don’t know what next year’s event holds.  I can’t wait to find out!

 

SM: Thanks for sharing information about the Ball with us. Best of success with your event!

JH: Thank you!  It should be fun, and I’m very excited.  Hope to see all of you there soon!

 

OK, steampunks, get your masquerade gear together and head over to the Ball on October 26th where you will be entertained by Platform One, Insane Ian, Eli August & the Abandoned Buildings, The Aubergine Dancers, Capital City Jedi Knights, Brad Howard and more!

Frank Howard the Wonderful Tattooed Man

Detail of the cover for “The Life of Frank Howard: The Wonderful Tattooed ManArt and culture blog Hyperallergenic has a great post about the 1880s book  Life of Frank Howard, the most wonderful tattooed man ever known in the civilzed [sic] world: a sketch of his life and the manner in which he became tattooedThe book was recently digitized by Harvard University, and is apparently a great read. Frank Howard left home at 11 to seek his fortune as a sailor and came home covered with tattoos (many done by an ominously-named sailor, Growler). He then got his sister hooked on them, and proceeded to travel with Barnum and Bailey as part of the freak show. The post also has some great photos of Frank, his sister Alice, and other tattooed Victorians.

Madeline Foxtrot’s “No Torque Zone”: An Interview with Glenn From League of STEAM

My name is Madeline Foxtrot, and I am an important person. If I were to write out all my accomplishments Steampunk Magazine Online would have to pay the internet for more space. I’ll admit I’m not sure how the internet works but I’m quite certain it works like that. While I’m not an internet expert I AM an expert on Steampunk and that is why Steampunk Magazine Online has been nice enough to offer me a recurring column titled the “No Torque Zone,” because when I interview someone I get the truth. So spin, no slants, no turning of phrase, no inventintion, NO torque! Just truth.

Today’s guest is Coyote from the Steampunk Performance and Maker collective “The League of S.T.E.A.M.” They are researchers of the paranormal, busters of ghosts, and ticklers of funny bones… when I say that I don’t mean bizarre animated skeletons I am of course referring to-

Photo of a group of people in a desert in steampunk outfits.

League of S.T.E.A.M.

COYOTE: Thank you for having me Madame Foxtrot.

MADELINE F: Hmm? Oh yes! Well Coyote since you’re here let’s talk Turkey. League of S.T.E.A.M… I’m assuming because of the all caps in your name, and the periods that those letters stand for Something, right?

C: Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management

MF: Because I thought it stood for Some Thing Else And MadelineFoxtrot… Not because I’m self centered but because I thought you were just killing time until I accepted your invite to the group.

C: I don’t remember us inviting….

MF: It’s never too late… So tell me a little about the group I’m joining?

Madeline Foxtrot, getting the TRUTH from that hat.

Madeline Foxtrot, getting the TRUTH from that hat.

C: Ha Ha Ha, Sadly Madame Foxtrot, The League of S.T.E.A.M. is an LLC and we aren’t currently not accepting new members in right now. All of our teams are currently full. But if an opening comes up, we’ll let you know.

MF: I’d appreciate that! Now, we’ve already given you money for Season 2… Why should we give you money for a third season?

C: That is a good question and one I feel we have fielded several times. By donating money to the Kickstarter you are going to get 9 more episodes. Last season, your donations got you some great guest stars like Grant Imahara, Doug Jones, Robin Thorsen, and Lisa Foiles. This season we want to do the same. Who do you want to see in season 3? We also were able to bring you some pretty cool locations, like an actual tall mast ship, Victorian homes, and different shops. Is there a location you want to see in season 3?

MF: But… we already gave you money. Did you spend it all?

C: Yeah, we did on season 2. A good portion of all donations from last season were put into filming insurance, which we need to get permits to shoot at location and most importantly protect our cast and crew in case something happens during filming.

MF: Well it sounds like you need a better Steampunk Accountant then.

C: Ha Ha, I am not sure about that

MF: Here’s an idea. We’re all about the Steampunk, and therefore we’re all about the time travel. Why don’t you go back in time, take the money from yourselves and then use THAT money to fund season 3?!

C: Well…If we did that, then we wouldn’t have had the money for season 2…plus if we did, then season 2 wouldn’t have happened, and the Kickstarter we are running now, would have been for season 2 instead of season 3…

MF: I’ve read a NUMBER of time travel stories that’s exactly how it works- but fine let’s ASSUME you’re right, why not go back to the True Victorian era and take some money from some people who don’t need it-

C: I feel that is pretty unsafe, and just generally a bad idea.

MF: The protagonist in HG Well’s the Time Machine seemed pretty OK. As did that McFly fellow…

C: Did The Timetraveller really do okay? He kinda got lost and was nearly killed by Morlocks. And McFly, because of his messing with time and trying to exploit the past with future knowledge to get money, lead to his enemy to generate a alternative time line where his family was killed, it all worked out in the end, but took some special precise reconstruction. Just saying not a great idea.

Man with a mustache in a steampunk costume.

Coyote from League of S.T.E.A.M.

MF: I think we’re both getting a little heated. Let’s talk about something else. Coyote you are in charge of the Junior W.A.T.C.H. First Question… Do you love acronyms?

C: Yes, Yes I do. I feel…

MF: Follow up question then why don’t you marry them?

C: I am already married to my lovely wife. Plus marrying A World-Wide Alliance for the Tracking of Creatures and Haunts might not be legal. But that is a good segue into, if you do want to help join the League, it is a good option for you.

MF: Well I meant marry acronyms BUT seeing as you’ve already started tell me about the W.A.T.C.H.

C: The W.A.T.C.H. is a citizen outreach program, since we can’t be everywhere at once, the League needs your eye, ears, and sometimes nose to help us track the monsters. Your help and make the world a safe place.

MF: So what monsters do you think you’ll tackle in Season Three?

C: I can’t tell you in detail, but you will see some new monsters and well as maybe some old favorites

MF: You people are worse than the producers of Breaking Bad…

C: I know, loose lips sink Airships…

MF: Indeed. You’ve mentioned earlier you have collaborated with a lot of fantastic people, both in your videos and out, who are some of your favorite people to have collaborated with?

C: It is really too hard to say. I have been repeatedly surprised by how amazing people are. From our fan and friends who have come in to help to celebrity and business we have worked with. It really recharges you workings with so many awesome people.

MF: And of course… Madeline Foxtrot!

C: Well maybe we will for season 3…

MF: Well it’s in the press now so I suppose you’d better get on that! So ladies and gentlemen, please donate to the League’s Kickstarter so that I can be in Season 3!

C: Well I think we need to make sure we have a script for you and clear it with the rest of the team…

MF: Well you certainly didn’t disagree to it! Thank you for joining us Coyote.

If you’d like to give to the League for their Third Season go to their Kickstarter.

If you’d like to see more of the League’s work check out the League of S.T.E.A.M website.

And of COURSE if you’d like to see more of ME, Madeline Foxtrot, Check of my web series on Dogtoon Media.

FICTION: On the Effects of Transmutational Science by Jeannie M. Leighton

Editor’s Note:

Issue 10 is starting to come together! To keep you entertained until it’s ready, we’ll be featuring a couple of short stories here on the blog. Here’s the first; enjoy!

***

ON THE EFFECTS OF TRANSMUTATIONAL SCIENCE

Jeannie M. Leighton

Truth be told, the life of a half-ghost is not as thrilling as the living let on. I ought to know. Ever since Dr. Osmosis bribed me into sitting for him in that contraption, I’m not half the woman I used to be. Oh yes, I can walk through walls and play clever parlor tricks at parties by sticking my head through the privy’s door to see who’s squatting, but honestly, it’s only funny if you’re the one waiting to get in. For me, well, suffice it to say, I’d wished I’d never taken the good doctor’s offer of one hundred quid for five-minutes’ work.

Art by Benjamin Bagenski

Art by Benjamin Bagenski

It seemed a good idea at the time, what with me being down on me luck and all. Desperate as I was to clear me good name, I didn’t think to ask why so many copper coils were snaked around the arms and back of the polished metal chair. I must admit they were pretty, all sparkling with translucent ribbons of wires winding upwards to a lead-glass ceiling. Reminded me of one of those hair curling whatnots I’d seen in the windows of the ladies’ salons uptown. Never fancied myself sitting under one of those, but here now was something similar so I just assumed I was in for a beauty treatment of sorts.

Dr. Osmosis hired me off the street. Now, before you jump to any mis-conclusions, it weren’t like that at all. I’m a proper lady and I’ll give you a cuff if you try to argue me. There I was, dusting fallen leaves and debris off the slate steps to me landlady’s place from an early October storm when he strolls by. I didn’t take no never mind to his being in my part of town such as it is ’cause there’s many a fine-dressed gent who takes to strolling down our streets; some of them right friendly and generous, too, I might add. I straightened myself upright and smoothed me brown taffeta skirts before nodding me head cordial like.

“Evening, sir,” I says, all polite. “Nice time of year for a walk, ain’t it now?”

He slows and taps his walking stick soft on the sidewalk. I didn’t notice until then that a steam-horse drawn carriage followed him, slowing as he did. He returns my nod and tips his grey flannel top hat.

“And a fine evening it is,” he says, “Now that I’ve met the brightest star in the heavens.”

“Gaw, what you mean by such talk?” I says.

“Nothing but the truth, dear lady,” he answers.

Now you wonder how I remember all this word for word and I’ll tell you soon enough. So here we were, making informal introductions and small talk like a couple of Bloods when he asks me if I’d be interested in gainful employment. Says it wouldn’t take any time and would pay well but that I’d have to be able to attend him at a moment’s notice. I says I’m not that type of working girl and he gets all red-faced.

“Do you have a tube?” he asks me and I get hot and tell him in so many words that he best watch how he talks to a lady if he wants to retain his manhood. He clarifies by saying, “Does your establishment have a pneumatic mailing system for me to send correspondence?”

“Aw, that,” says I. “Everything here gets sent to Mrs. B; she’s the landlady and she’ll see that it’ll get to me. Why?”

He explains how he’s a doctor of Transmutational Science and how I could become the first woman to join the ranks of spectral transfers if I’d agree to secrecy and not tell a soul. He chuckles at this last but I missed the joke. I was still ruminating over becoming a spectral transfer; sounded exotic, like from one of those far-off countries. I set me dust broom down and shook his hand to seal the deal, swearing on my mother’s grave. He returns my handshake and laughs even harder.

“Very well, then. I’ll send notice within the week, weather permitting. Do stay close to the tubes because, as I said, timing is of utmost importance.” He hands me an envelope from his coat pocket. “As a retainer,” he says. Then he turns to that coach and a door opens with nothing but the air to move it and he climbs in. The horse trots off with no one to guide it and I head into me apartment while opening up the envelope and dream of lucky horseshoes.

Two days pass and I’m keeping low to me self just like I promised the doctor when who shows up on me doorstep but me cousin Mike. He’s wondering why I ain’t been round the Palace and asking if I’m sick ’cause it ain’t like me to miss a good night out. He says he heard I’d come into a bit of extras. Now Mike ain’t really me cousin; we only say that for inquiring eyes who see us about. Me not being the quickest thinker what with me good looks and all, I well up and quiver out how could he believe such stories and how I’d never hold back even so much as a tuppence without asking him first but he’s not buying it and we’re about to have a go around when Mrs. B bursts out the front door waving a tube addressed to me. I grab it and twist off the seal. There’s a letter inside all fancy with an embossed crest and everything and I start to read it but Mike tries to rip it out of me hand. Just as he reaches a third time, here comes that steam-horse carriage to the curb and a door swings open and I dive in clutching the letter. Mike manages to tear off a piece as the door swings shut. I can feel the carriage lurch forward and I hear Mike’s voice screaming but I don’t turn around.

I must have dozed off because next thing I know, I’m sitting in this chair with the copper coils. Dr. Osmosis is standing across from me, his fingers templed in front of his nose. I blink several times to get me bearings.

“What’s this?” I ask. “I know I sleep like the dead but how’d I get in here without waking?” I tried to rise but found a padded belt around my waist and wrists. I notice me corset’s missing and all I’m wearing is me chemise.

Dr. Osmosis crooks one elbow and taps a finger against his spectacles. “Nothing to fear, my lady. Nothing to fear. You’ve had a long ride and I wanted to insure ensure your safety until you awoke.”

He approaches and checks the restraints. I smile coyly and wait for him to unlatch them but instead, he turns to a large display full of wheels and bulb-shaped tubes. Lights flicker intermittently but I can’t make out from where the light source came. I pull on the wrist straps but they hold fast.

“This isn’t the kind of parlor games I play, doctor. I’m a straight up girl.” I might as well have been talking to the braided series of cords that connected me and my chair to the display. I squeal as a flash of lightning shatters the overhead glass ceiling with blue-white light.

“Just a few more minutes,” he says, scuttling over to yet another panel of pulleys and switches. “We’re nearly ready.”

“This was not what I signed on for.” My mouth tastes like copper.

“Oh, but it is, my dear.” He reaches over his head to a large wheel contraption and turns it like a top. “Five minutes was what I believe we agreed on.” He checks the enormous time piece taking up one wall. “One now. Soon you’ll be famous.”

The floor beneath me begins to spin. I force myself not to faint as the chair to which I was strapped begins to rise. Rain droplets hit the bare skin on my arms, icy cold with each wet slap. I think I screamed but the only sound was the near continuous cracks of lightning and thunder from above. The glass ceiling had opened like an observatory and I, Dr. Osmosis’ evening star, was soon to become a heavenly body.

The End

Call for Artists/Makers in Oklahoma

Poster for a Call for ArtistsA Steampunk Art Market in Norman, OK is looking for vendors and performers, and we’ve been asked to pass the link along! So if you’re in the area, check out this page for more information. The deadline for submissions is August 24th, and artists, makers and performance artists are all welcome to submit.

Fiction Review: Chrystal Heart

BY MEG KINGSTON
Publisher: Jay Walker Writing
Reviewed by Nimue Brown

270329_320518881397191_307162343_nIndiana Jones and The Fifth Element, only with a kickass female lead and plenty of contemporary Steampunk twists. This is a crisply written, well-paced book that will keep you turning the pages, so don’t start it if you’ve got to be somewhere else urgently! Chrystal is, as the tagline says, a 188 year old bisexual cyborg vampire. None of that is quite what it suggests in practice (except the bisexual bit). The unravelling of the mystery around the enigmatic central character is much of the joy of this story, but Meg Kingston knows that a flash of ankle can be more tantalising than a bare leg, and teases out little glimpses of the backstory without ever letting us become too familiar with her heroine. This makes for an enjoyable read. There’s nothing worse, for me, than writers who have to lay everything bare and explain it all tidily. Expect to spend a lot of time afterwards wondering what was going on behind the scenes in the tale. The plot is wholly satisfying, but isn’t handed to you on a plate.

There’s some really interesting science in the book, along with some great characters, determined villains, action, love interest (too much love interest for a child-reader, but not that explicit). Also there are charming endnotes to let you know what came from where in terms of how science meets fiction. The ways in which Meg has made this both a modern book set in the here and now and an unequivocally Steampunk book are delightful, although I won’t explain further, to avoid spoilers.

I can very much recommend this as a most entertaining read.

Fiction Review: An Airship Named Desire

BY KATHERINE MCINTYRE
Publisher: Hazardous Press
Reviewed by Lori Holuta

AirshipCoverSmallWhat’s a steampunk story without an airship? Well, it’s certainly not mandatory, of course, but an adventure that’s centered around an airship provides the perfect opportunity to showcase many readers’ favorite elements in the Steampunk genre.

An Airship Named Desire carries a weighty cargo. Besides the Desire’s intrepid Captain Morris and his loyal crew, she brings along many of the staples of the ‘great Steampunk adventure’: danger; romance; the curse of the inevitable betrayal; strange and exotic locales; swashbuckling men and strong, independent women; daring rescues; dark and stormy nights; corsets and goggles and anachronisms, oh my!

Our story centers around a mysterious locked box the crew’s been hired to obtain. The box is won in a daring mission, but that’s not the end of the story–in fact, the locked box draws the interest of all sorts of shady and dangerous characters. It’s the catalyst that propels the reader on a wild ride that won’t end till the last page is read. This is a rousingly good tale, thick with action, occasionally lightened by witty dialogue, and with enough smart scheming, twists and turns, and surprises along the way to keep the reader riveted.

We experience the entire adventure through the eyes of Bea, as the author has chosen to write the tale entirely in first-person. It’s a tricky point of view to manage, with distinct benefits and drawbacks. On the benefit side, we are able to form a close emotional connection with Bea, who is the main character in our adventure. Nearly all of the action is ‘funneled’ down to us through Bea’s perception. Her emotions and rationale for all her decisions and actions are made clear to us in great detail.

On the drawback side, we are wearing blinders in regards to the rest of Desire’s crew, as well as her enemies and various folk we meet along the way. We know very little about how events are impacting their lives. If they haven’t allowed Bea to understand their thoughts and actions, we’re left clueless as well. I found the entire cast of characters to be an intriguing variety of personalities, and I would like to have had the opportunity to crawl around inside their heads in more depth. Given the constraints of the chosen viewpoint, though, I enjoyed the large and diverse group of people that contributed in their own unique ways towards the completion of Desire’s mission.

Author Katherine McIntyre has written poetry and prose for various publications, but An Airship Named Desire is her first published novel. I suspect that subsequent novels will benefit from experience gained while writing Desire, and perhaps she will choose to step away from first-person storytelling. I hope so, as she has proven her skill at telling a rich, well crafted tale from beginning to end.

In addition, I’d love to see her trim back her dependence on overly descriptive, drawn-out action sequences, and I’d definitely hope to see less use of frequent–and often downright bizarre–similes. (For example, “Their shadow stretched along the crevasse between the warehouses like a mutated black alligator stomping in an aluminum river.”) McIntyre has the chops to write a strong storyline. Now it remains to be seen if she will allow her future work to depend less on novelty styling and simply stand on its own merit. Count me in for the next book.