5 May 2013

Dr. Some's ABC of Steampunk Part 2: D - F

D is for Drinks

British Mermaids love tea!
First choice for the stylish steampunk (and seriously: who of us isn't?) is absinthe. The anise-flowered spirit (mostly made of herbs, prominently the so-called "grand wormwood") got its nickname "green fairy" due to its usually green colour and its allegedly hallucinogenic effects . It was the beverage of the intellectual and cultural avant-garde of the 19th and early 20th century like E. A. Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Aleister Crowley (and due to its high amount of alcohol it was also pretty liked by the not-so cultivated but well-to-do drunkards too).

Besides absinthe, red wine and tea (as typical Victorian beverage) are quiet liked too. As rule of thumb you can say that steampunk has tendencies towards drinks popular in the 19th century upper-class, so best leave your viking-drinking horn full of mead at home if you want to blend in a crowd of steampunks ;-)

Black coffee (or better called "Café Noir") is also a favorite. Especially when working all night long on exotic (if not crazy) machines, you will learn to love the effects of caffeine. Its said that the best steampunk constructions were made under heavy caffeine-influence (the so called caffeine-caused-building-frenzy), where more and more funny moving parts have been added to all kinds of possible (and impossible) spots - wonderful!.

E is for Experiments

Just don't check their calculations or it might fall down!
Science and technology are playing a big part in steampunk and the most fundamental (and usually most fun) way to do science is doing an experiment! Its of course their nature to have spectacular and surprising results. Sometimes quite bizarre or even horrible ones!

One of the most famous experiments in literature - and just as well one of the original moments of steampunk - is the creation of artificial life by Dr. Victor ("It lives!") Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's famous novel. It combines a lot of what we all love on steampunk: the 19th-century-setting, flashy effects with lots of lighting bolts (at least in the movies), a more or less mad scientist and lots of exotic and mysterious machineries which are just as monstrous as Frankensteins' creation itself!

Other famous experiments include groundbreaking advances in steampunk technology like the discovery of the famous cavorite by Dr. Cavor (a material which reflects gravity and therefore is widely used in the construction of aerial vehicles and floating cities), the mysterious potion Dr. Jekyll did invent in his tragic attempt to surpress the dark sides of his personality, Dr. Moreau's grotesque experiments in order to "humanize" wild animals on his remote tropical island, or the famous Time-Machine (a truely timeless theme!).

F is for Fashion

Two lovely examples of steampunk-inspired dresses.
Steampunk fashion takes it inspirations mostly from Victorian times, without sticking too tightly on authenticity. steampunks show often a high degree of creativity and dedication with quite refined outfits, representing a unique, personal style.

There are the "typical" 19th-century-inspired clothes with long dresses and corsages for women, made under extensive use of velvet, silk and lace, with men wearing linen-, velvet- or cord-suits (often seen with striped pants), waistcoat and tie. Just as well however you might run into a bunch of retrofuturistic adventurers, airship pirates, sinister villains, rough looking mechanics, sparsely dressed vaudeville dancers, lolitas or mad scientists!

Accessory-wise there is hardly something which doesn't works, especially if its "enhanced" (or better say decorated) in some way with gears:  glasses and goggles (always great!),  monocles (undeniable for villains!) safari-helmets, aviator's-caps, leather corsets, gloves, straps and belts for whimsical guns and accessories, lab-coats, fans, parasols, umbrellas, handkerchiefs, rings, necklaces, brooches, canes, bowler-hats, top-hats, newsboy caps, compasses, clocks (of course!), harpoons and rifles with exotic sights, sextants, barometers, masks, eye-patches, artificial limbs and implants - even mustaches!

As always in steampunk there simply can't be enough brass (especially as whimsical mechanic without obvious purpose). Other favored materials are (apart from the mentioned leather) dark woods, glass for lenses and vacuum tubes, (fake!) ivory and occasional mother-of-pearl inlays.

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