Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

Whatever Shall I Wear?

RedAs I said in my last post, it’s that time of year.  So many events to attend and the big question is “What to wear?”   Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy figuring out new outfits for steampunk events.  I may enjoy it a little too much, but that’s a different topic.  It’s just that I don’t really want to wear the same thing over and over.  Or at least not in exactly the same way.  Many of my steampunk clothes can be mixed and matched to make new outfits. I have been wanting to have a large gallery of all my outfits that I can view on one page.  Unfortunately my computer doesn’t seem inclined to help, so I played around with some photo storage sites.  I finally found one that would let me do it.  Photobucket’s albums lets you view an entire album on one page.  Go and see my daunting 61 outfits all on a page!  That isn’t even all my outfits, but I don’t have full length photos of all of them.  It gives me a good overview to make decisions from.

Marshall & Bear

Marshal Hunter & the Bear - photo by D. Vick

The other huge question is what will work for the particular environment?  Will it be all indoors?  Outdoors?  Will it be too warm?  Too cold?  Steampunk clothing is generally layered and so fairly warm, often too warm.  Hats, gloves, corsets, tights, boots and such will all add to the warmth.  It’s great for fall, but summer can be tricky.  So each event poses it’s own problems.   I am working up a few outfits that are a bit cooler, with lighter fabrics for the outdoor events, but I am never quite as happy with them.

As they say at the Adventurers’ Club “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you, but always dress for the hunt!

And then there’s what to take to a convention.  Travels a curse!  But that’s a post for next time.

Upcoming Steampunkery

As usual this month marks the beginning of the whirlwind steampunk event season.  I was very sad to miss both Victoria Steampunk Expo and Gaslight Gathering this year, but it’s being made up for by my wonderful birthday weekend adventure in California.  I have been asked to be the Fan Guest of Honor at Clockwork Alchemy!  I am going to be doing a few talks, and panels and we will be running a promo table for Steamcon all weekend.  It should be quite a nice way to spend my natal fete, getting to dress up, see my California  friends and help initiate a brand new steampunk convention.

While there are lots of steampunk events happening all over the country, I am only going to list on the ones that I might have a chance to attend.  You may want to check out the Airship Ambassador’s site for event listings for things that are further afield. If you are on the west coast or even better in Seattle,  check out the events below and click the links for more information.  I hope you can join us for some of these splendid steampunk events!

* May 20th – Annual Seattle Steamrats Train Outing – Northwest Railway Museum

* May 25th – 28th – Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA

*June 9th – The Brass Screw Confederacy in Port Townsend

*July 7th – Abney Park & Karina Cooper Rock Bellingham

*August 4th – Steampunk University and Store – All Pilgrim’s Church

* August 17th – 19th – GEARcon – Portland OR



The Game Is Afoot

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes existed in a time that is rife with steampunk possibility, but the basis of the original Holmes stories is that Holmes investigated crimes that seemed supernatural or fantastical in origin and gave them perfectly plausible mundane resolutions.   When the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie came out, owing to its time period and gritty atmosphere, it of course got erroneously labeled steampunk.  However, since there aren’t any actual supernatural elements and the only science fiction or anachronism is a minor element that does not truly affect the plot, it really doesn’t qualify.  I have not yet seen the second one, but from what I hear the only possibility of steampunk is that some of the guns are slightly too early.

Essentially if stories based on Doyle’s Holmes are following canon, then they won’t be steampunk because there won’t be any actual science fiction/fantasy, supernatural or anachronistic elements in the plot.  So are there any Holmes stories that are steampunk?  When thinking about this I tried to remember if Young Sherlock Holmes had any of those elements.  I sought out a copy and tried to rewatch it.  I have to admit that my memory was a lot kinder to the film than it actually deserved. While the film is interesting and well cast, it suffered from some very heavy handed directing, abysmal CGI (even for its time) and an jarring soundtrack.  It also does not have any of the requisite steampunk elements.  As a side note, I think that it would be a great candidate for a remake.

Fear not however, there is at least one truly steampunk Sherlock Holmes movie out there.  The other night I happened to record an interesting Sherlock Holmes film that my husband had been trying to find.  It‘s called, obliquely enough, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.   It was made by Asylum Films.  It came out in 2009 at the same general time as the Ritchie Holmes film, so it went straight to video. It starts out feeling much like any other Holmes story, and even the reports of a giant octopus attack and a dinosaur killing seem like elements that Holmes could explain away.   Even when Holmes and Watson get chased by the T Rex, there is still an anticipation of the usual Holmes plot mechanisms.  It isn’t until the whole world gets turned on its head by a mechanical suit, a clockwork woman, a mechanical dragon and Holmes in a hot air balloon that you finally realize that this movie was completely mistitled.  This is definitely NOT Doyles’ Holmes.   It is a bit low budget, and the writing and acting are not great, but if you manage to keep watching until about an hour in, you will be rewarded with full on, over the top steampunk.  I really wish that the film had more to recommend it in the beginning, but pacing and storytelling are not its best qualities.  It is notable entirely for the fact that is unmistakably steampunk.

One new project that bears a look is Steampunk Holmes written by P.C. Martin.  It’s a mash up of Holmes and many other literary works from that era.  A series of interactive books are planned with stunning art by Daniel Cortes.  The first one is Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus with a cover by John Coulthart.

The beloved sleuth is obviously of the right time frame for the genre and given the current penchant for mashups and remakes, there was little doubt that steampunk inspired Sherlock Holmes stories and films were due to appear.  I suspect that I’ve missed a few that happened before now, and as the floodgates are opening, I am sure I will intentionally miss many that will happen hence.   I do see a potential for some good stories, but Sturgeon’s law will out and a goodly portion of what is created won’t be good.


About The Author

Diana Vick

I am an illustrator, writer, costumer and steampunk enthusiast.
I have done illustration for comic books, animation and collectible card games such as Magic the Gathering and Legend of the Five Rings. Currently, I do art for my own line of cards and gifts in my Zazzle shop.