Tea & Automatons

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A Very Steampunk Week

Forgive my prolonged absence.  I haven’t felt much like writing for a while and I have not had much to say, but the past week does need to be shared.  It’s been pretty sweet.

It began at Furlandia, a furry convention in Portland.  Their theme was the Age of Industry, so they invited me as a Guest of Honor.  I happily accepted.  I dressed to the nines and gave five steampunk talks.  It was wonderful to be able to educate so many eager folks about steampunk and hear their questions. I have to admit that I have missed that.  I had a table in the Dealers’ Den where I sold my Steamporium items. My brand new Steampunk coloring book was a huge hit.  I even hosted a Tea on Sunday morning for the patron level members.  My husband ran his first Tea Dueling event.  We had a great time.

On Saturday night, we went out to celebrate my birthday with K.W. and Geri Jeter.  K.W. is the man who coined the term “steampunk”, in case you were unaware.  We had a nice dinner at a German restaurant that is sadly about to be demolished in the name of progress.

After the convention, we took a few days to recuperate out in rural Oregon and then drove back to the city in time for a showing of Vintage Tomorrows, a documentary about steampunk at the Seattle International Film Festival.  This meant a lot to my husband and I as we are both in the film and were there for the very beginning of this project back in 2011. We were joined by my protege Carrie and dressed to the nines once again.  We were the first ones in line.  The SIFF staff loved our outfits and made us feel very special.  Many other folks that were in the movie and many local Seattle Steamrats showed up as well.  I was quite pleased with the way the movie turned out.  It is a good way to introduce steampunk to people and makes a few good observations.  I highly recommend it, but then I may be a wee bit biased.  I never in a million years thought that I would actually appear on IMDB.  Lol!  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, or want to see it again it will be available on iTunes on July 19th.

Afterwards I suggested to the director, Byrd that we should get a drink and chat, and that turned into a sizable after party at T.S. McHugh’s.  It was wonderful catching up with everyone. Truly a great crowd.

I was glad to be a part of all this steampunk excitement.  It’s been very inspiring to me in so many ways and it’s still going.


If you’d like to take a look at photos here is the Furlandia Gallery and the Vintage Tomorrows Gallery.

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.