Hello again. I hope you guys had a good week. There are still plenty of tips I can give people who are curious about writing steampunk fiction. Some components are very stylistic to steampunk and other genres in science fiction. Retro futurism is an important part of steampunk in literature, cinema, gaming, and cosplay. What on earth is retro futurism? Read the rest of this post and find out. I'll try to make sure it's not confusing.
Firstly, I want to get a technical element out of the way. I have seen more than one spelling for retro futurism. Sometimes, it's one word; retrofuturism. Other times, it has a hyphen; retro-futurism. You can split it into two words; retro futurism. Realistically, that part doesn't matter. You just need to understand the broad concept. Retro futurism falls into one of two categories. It can be a past time period that appears very futuristic. The second choice is a distant future that is emulating an older time period.
How does this concept apply to steampunk? Retro futurism is actually a classic element in steampunk fiction. Most of the time, steampunk novels take place in an alternate version of the Victorian era, Wild West, or Edwardian era. Steampunk takes the steam power, clothing, political elements, and culture of the 19th century and adds many science fiction elements. Technology is usually very advanced in steampunk fiction. In fact, steampunk technology is more advanced than anything we've seen in the modern era. Transportation in steampunk literature is unique and fantasy driven with high powered zeppelins, submarines, and locomotives that function as super vehicles. They're usually very fast, heavily armed, and nearly indestructible. Steampunk weapons are usually pistols, canons, rotary guns, crossbows, rifles, and other items from the 19th century. However, they tend to have a futuristic component with greater accuracy and more firepower. It's not unusual to see hybrid weapons, like something that functions as both a crossbow and gun. Naturally, none of these weapons were real in the 19th century, but they're commonplace in retro futuristic works. It's also typical to see grand metropolises that are far more advanced than real version of Victorian London and such. Buildings are often constructed with futuristic clockwork mechanics, colossal, and designed to sustain major devastation. The same is true about bridges and other structures. I wish our modern infrastructure could be so impressive.
Retro futurism also goes to huge extremes with concepts like genetic engineering and mad science. Steampunk works often have mutations and abominations that are the product of genetic engineering. Some authors call these creatures homunculi, but that's not a universal term. You have the liberty to call these creatures anything. Humans can also have major body modifications like mechanical limbs, computerized parts, animal hybridization, and more. Cyborgs are normally an invention in cyberpunk fiction, but they're becoming more common in steampunk books. Artificial intelligence is also commonplace in steampunk. Robots and automatons are used for many things. They function as servants, soldiers, construction workers, etc. Time travel and interdimensional traveling are also retro futuristic elements. They're staples in steampunk fiction. Time machines are often used to change history or correct mistakes. Genetic engineering, time machines, and artificial intelligence are definitely futuristic elements that we see in steampunk fiction, but they're not realistic. These elements didn't exist in the 19th century and it gives a strong futuristic element to steampunk books. Basically, you're looking at a past time period that has both luxuries and horrors that we haven't seen yet.
Let's flip the concept around. A futuristic time period with antiquated elements also fits within retro futurism. It will have the same concepts I listed above. Things like genetic engineering, time travel, and huge metropolises make sense for a time period that takes place in the future. Elements like Victorian fashion, steam power, and industrialization give the future an outdated appearance. Here's one of the things to keep in mind if you want to write about a distant retro future. There needs to be a reason for the world to regress or it won't make any sense. I'll drop a couple examples for you. My own book series takes place in the future and the majority of people in the United States are reviving certain elements from the Victorian era. After nationwide terrorism, anarchy, and violence tore our civilization apart, the survivors wanted to change the entire American culture. They wanted to move away from the ideals and values that led to such instability. Perhaps, taking some influences from the past to create a new genteel culture will bring peace to the nation. If they're going to adapt a lot of elements from the 19th century and Romantic period, it makes sense for the characters to bring a lot of Victorian components to their wardrobe and infrastructure. Keep in mind that mankind is far more advanced on a technological level in my series because the plot takes place in the future. It gave me a lot of liberties in terms of elaborate anachronisms, weapons, transportation, and architecture.
Retro futurism doesn't have to be limited to steampunk either. There's a really cool video game called Zero Horizon Dawn. It's basically a future Stone Age. The game takes place some time in the future after all forms of civilization collapsed. The protagonist is a cave woman who's using remnants of futuristic technology and her hunting skills to survive in a harsh environment. Robot dinosaurs and various types of prey are running amok on the terrain. Overall, you can still tell it's the future because remnants of our civilization and technology are scattered throughout the game. Also, the world is controlled by machines and that's another indicator of a futuristic setting. I thought the idea of primitive humans living a thousand years in the future was an interesting concept.
That concludes my post about retro futurism. I hope your head isn't spinning too much. Leave a comment if you want to say anything. Maybe we can have a little discussion about this topic. I'm going to leave some links about retro futurism on the bottom. Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and stay tuned for more awesome topics.
Thanks for visiting my blog again! I'm going to post some pics and links from the Wild West Steam Fest. It's a small yet really cool steampunk festival in Santa Ana. The festival combines steampunk with the Wild West and I thought it was a lot of fun. I met some new professionals and acquaintances. Plus, I had a chance to reconnect with some familiar faces. So, take a little time to explore my post and I'm sure you'll find a lot of interesting things.
My sister and I met a writer and steampunk personality right at the opening gate. Katherine L. Morse is a steampunk author who writes about a variety of adventures. She and her husband, David L. Drake, also host panels at steampunk events like the Gaslight Gathering in San Diego. I didn't have a chance to use my camera yet, but she had a Wild West type of steampunk costume. You can follow Drake & McTrowell on Facebook or learn more about them at http://drakeandmctrowell.com. It's always nice for me to meet other steampunk authors. Maybe I can get to know them a little better down the road.
The Steam Fest had a real blacksmith at the Heritage Museum of Orange County. I don't get to see vintage trades very often, so this was quite a treat for me. Gil Ramirez works as a blacksmith, actor, and prop maker. I thought his merchandise was really cool. Gil uses coal, fire, and various types of hammers to create his metal items. The guys were working directly on the property and it worked quite well with the Wild West theme. I'm leaving links to his Twitter page and official website.
We met a really cool cosplay group who also appears to be a conglomeration of history buffs. They're called The Atlantean Foundation. The group has a big emphasis on exploration, antiquities, research, and unexplained phenomena. One of their youths runs Dang! Industries. She's a very creative young lady who makes interesting gadgets and gizmos. I felt amused with the steampunk Pokémon items that she created. The round iron ball on her table is a specialized type of Poke Ball that was designed to catch Pokémon.
Everyone else from The Atlantean Foundation had unique findings too. They're very good storytellers and collectors of many things. I thought their costumes were great too. You can find out more about their group at https://www.facebook.com/atlanteanfoundation. Take a look at my pics to view their collections. I also took a really nice group shot of them.
So, I had an opportunity to meet a steampunk Wookie. That doesn't happen very often. I'm getting to know several members of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe or SWSU. They're a group of cosplayers who take Star Wars characters and add a lot of steampunk elements. The SWSU also participates in a lot charity events. This was my first time meeting the steampunk Chewbacca character. He was actually quite generous, allowing me to have one of their badges. It's a collectible item, so I felt very pleased with his gift.
This is Tracy Davis. He's the steampunk C-3PO persona in the SWSU. We met each other at the Long Beach Comic Expo back in February. I think his costume is really inventive. Some people have a knack for DIY projects.
I featured this vendor on a previous event post. Gears & Roebuck, Rusty Junk Emporium makes a variety of steampunk merchandise, including prop weapons, masks, hats, and more. The owner makes appearances at conventions throughout Southern California. I think she's also going to be an exhibitor at the Gaslight Gathering this year. Her prop weapons are pretty cool. I'm still thinking about commissioning her at some point. Gears & Roebuck is available on Facebook and Etsy. www.etsy.com/shop/GearsandRoebuck.
We were fascinated with a vendor called Everythingz Steampunked. The owner is Dennis A. Tauriello, but his wife and daughter were working the stand when we strolled through the area. Most of their work is created from antique watch parts. I thought it was an interesting concept. Check them out on Facebook.
Is this a robotic Cthulhu? He definitely stood out in the crowd. Inventive to say the least.
I snapped a picture of Lindsay Rae. She's the owner of Rae Wolf Designs. My photo isn't doing her merchandise justice because everything looks so small. She makes little octobots and other steampunk items. I noticed some flowers in one of the briefcases and little craft bugs on her hat. You can find out much more about her work on Facebook and www.raewolfdesigns.com.
Sherry Ramaila owns the Steamtorium. I really enjoyed her merchandise. My sister bought a booklet with some patterns that she can use for sewing projects. The Steamtorium sells handbags, clothing, jewelry, and teacup holsters. I thought the teacup holsters were adorable. They would fit into my book series really well. Characters could travel and then stop to have afternoon tea on the wasteland. Awesome! You can purchase the Steamtorium's merchandise from Etsy and find out more information through Facebook.
This is the second time I saw an exhibit for the Gaslight Expo during 2017. It's a huge steampunk festival in San Diego that's held every fall. I never attended in the past, but it's definitely on my list of things to do next year. The Gaslight Expo is running from October 6th through the 8th. It's a separate event from the Gaslight Gathering. The Expo's primary theme is focusing on fantasy worlds, including Wonderland, Oz, and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Their guest of honor is Tim Powers this year. I think it's great because he's one of the original steampunk authors. If you want to find out more information or feel inclined to buy tickets, look at their official website. www.gaslightexpo.org.
I don't know a lot of details about the next vendor. However, his merchandise is really cool. Hornsmythe sells all kinds of steampunk goodies, including goggles, satchels, belts, jewelry, masks, hats, prop weapons, etc. I didn't obtain any links to social media or online stores, but you can probably find their merchandise through a Google search. Take a look at my photos to see their merchandise.
We found some cool and whimsical merchandise from Wyngd Lyon. Colleen Rodriguez is the owner and it seemed like her merchandise was a little different than what I saw from the other vendors. She sold books, playing cards, hair clips, and some decorative items. I bought a Daredevil pin from her. The Daredevil television show is awesome. In fact, I think his fighting style is somewhat similar to the protagonist in my book series. So, I wanted to have a little bit of Daredevil spirit with a pin on my lapel. Her friend at the stand was Cynthia Diamond. She's an author of fantasy romance novels. I'm sure many of you guys would enjoy her work. After all, romance is a very popular genre. I'll leave a list of links. Keep in mind, you can also search for Wyngd Lyon on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
www.cynthiadiamondauthor.com- Cynthia Diamond's Author website
http://wyngdlyon.com/- Wyngd Lyon Official Website
http://store.wyngdlyon.com/- Wyngd Lyon Store
All right. They were holding tea dueling at the Steam Fest throughout the day. What on earth is tea dueling? Apparently, it's a way for two people to settle a dispute in a civilized manner. They sit down at a table with warm tea and a biscuit. The biscuit must be held between two fingers. A moderator will count down and then the two opponents will dip their biscuits in the tea for five seconds. Then the opponents will withdraw their biscuits from the tea and hold it up. At that point, the biscuits will be very soggy and potentially fall apart. The opponents are supposed to wait for as long as possible before stuffing the entire biscuit in their mouth. If the biscuit breaks, the opponent loses the match. There are also varying degrees of losing. A regular loss happens when the biscuit breaks and falls on the table. It's worse if the biscuit breaks and splashes inside the tea cup. The worst type of loss happens when the biscuit falls on the opponent's clothes. It's also possible for both of the opponents to lose. I guess that's how it works. Tea dueling doesn't seem to be much of a talent for me. I failed epically twice.
Meet Dr. Artemus Peepers. He's a steampunk cosplayer with a very elaborate costume. Check out those wings. In 2016, he was also the winner of a joint competition from the Syfy network and Trolli candy company titled the Weirdly Awesome Costume Contest. I thought his outfit was pretty cool, so taking a pic seemed like a good idea. You can read his posts on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/drpeepers/.
I ran into my buddies from the Star Wars Steampunk Universe again. Actually, I probably saw more of them at the Steam Fest than any other event this year. We took a group picture together. You guys should check them out on social media. If you're curious about joining the SWSU, send a message to their Facebook page. They're a really friendly and active group of people. https://www.facebook.com/starwarssteampunkuniverse/
Look at that. We make a photogenic group. I think this was my first individual photo with the SWSU. You might be able to see me holding a prop wrench. Funny story. The attendees at the festival were really fascinated with my wrench. They asked a lot of questions. How much did it cost? Is it heavy? Did you make it yourself? Basically, it's a foam wrench that I bought for nine bucks at a Halloween store two years ago. I believe it was a Spirit of Halloween shop. The prop is very light weight and you might be able to find it on Amazon too. Ironically, you can find a lot of useful props for cosplay in the serial killer section of any Halloween store. Usually, the props are made out of foam or plastic and pretty cheap. That's my helpful tip to anyone who's putting together a steampunk costume.
Many of the attendees had great outfits. It was a little challenging to snap pictures. People were on the move and it was crowded. But I got a few good ones. I thought this couple was very creative with their Voodoo take on steampunk.
James Graham is the Lando character on your left. We met earlier in the year at the Long Beach Comic Expo. Really nice guy. On your right is the Mace Windu cosplayer for the SWSU. He's going to add more elements to his costume throughout the year. Most likely, I'll run into him at later events and his costume will probably be more elaborate at that point.
I thought this pair was also quite interesting. They made good use of black and purple with tinted goggles. I like it when cosplayers try different colors aside from brown and cream.
Bailey-Denton Photography was the last vendor we visited at the Steam Fest. James and Valorie Denton have a vintage style of photography with tintypes. It's totally appropriate for steampunk. They took a picture of me and I had the opportunity to see it develop in the solution. Really cool experience. Click on http://www.baileydentonphoto.com to find out more information about their photography.
There aren't many steampunk conventions in my area, so this was a nice change of pace. The property at the Heritage Museum of Orange County is fascinating. I just wish the weather wasn't so hot. It was nice to see so many steampunk fans gathering in one location. I can tell the genre is thriving quite well with a lot of variety. Leave comments if you want to say anything about the Wild West Steam Fest. Stay tuned for my next post and I hope you enjoyed the pics.