7 May 2013

Dr. Some's ABC of Steampunk Part 3: G - I

G is for Gear

Gears look great - especially on logos!
There is no thing which represents Steampunk in a more iconic way than gears do. You can not only find them quite everywhere as essential construction components but also on countless logos, banners and posters. They can be found as engravings, stitchings, prints or drawings or simply applied on all kinds of things steampunk.

The gear is a symbol for an archaic (sometimes crude) technological era where today's high-tech was light years away. An era where you could see the mechanics of a machine actually work. The era of huge, smoking, fizzling and stomping steam engines - which will never come back for a moderner, but which can be made alive again: In a more colourful and whimsical way than it ever was.

Its an almost meditative feeling watching the teeths of one gear mating with the teeth of another one, driving a belt, a crankshaft, a propeller or an airscrew - or perhaps a giant drill to reach the earths core.

I think for a Steampunk its just as calming to watch a nice and shiny clockwork working as it is for a "moderner" (to use this peculiar term for people preferring modern times) to sit in the park, watch a fountain and feed pigeons. Ok, some Steampunks might argue now that you can enhance the moderner's experience with replacing the pigeons with mechanical ones and adding some decorative gears to the fountain ;-)

Anyway, gears can and should be applied on everything possible. They are visually strong and certainly attract the eye of the beholder and tell even the worst ignorants that this is Steampunk!

H is for Hat

Emma & her steampunk-hat.
The hat is one of the most important accessories a steampunk can have and therefore definitely worth having its own letter here. Their appearance is usually heavily influenced by the fashion of the second half of the 19th century. Most common are top-hats and bowler hats, but also newsboy- or pilot-caps are not strange to steampunks.

Its importance however got the hat from the sheer endless possibilities to modify and/or apply accessories on it. Just using them to cover your head and perhaps attaching some goggles or a hatband on it is tragically underestimating their potential:
Hats can be used as mounts for a wide spectrum of instruments and tools like clocks and dials, optical lenses, periscopes, all kinds of detecting devices, as mount for guns great and small, ear-trumpets and propellers (turning the hat actually to a serious transportation device!). They can be armored, make their wearer invisible, can host robot-arms (and which Steampunk scientist couldn't use an extra pair of hands sometimes!) or meteorological stations, parachutes or simply can have a fan (of course steam-powered) to keep the wearer's brain at a decently cool working temperature!

You see, hats are much more than just a clothing accessory. Its a vital gadget for its wearers, helping them on their expeditions to the most remote and exotic places of the known (and unknown) world - and most important - to survive all-day life in the urban jungles!

I is for Inventors

Dr. Some - clearly a sincere steampunk inventor!
What would steampunk be without its inventors? I don't know, but it would be pretty boring!
Steampunk lives from inventions, therefore inventors play an essential role in it and are usually highly respected (however the respect may dwindle if their inventions blow up large parts of the city for example).

Inventors usually wear goggles, a lab coat or an apron with stains of acid or  grime on (perhaps a bit burned too).
They have a workshop or a laboratory (a garage just doesn't has enough style!) where they do experiment on their experiments, construct their constructions and tinker at their... tinkerings!

You can usually draw conclusions about the inventor's intentions from the locations of their laboratories: The more remote the laboratory, the more doubtful are their intentions!
The typical mad steampunk scientist like Dr. Steel (my personal favorite world-overtaking-maniac) has his facilities usually on an unaccessible island, inside an extinct volcano (Captain Nemo), deep in the jungle, in a medieval castle, in a mountain fortress, or similarly extreme environments.

But let's not only talk about the bad guys (we will return to them under "V is for villain"). The typical inventor is a very nice guy. Perhaps a bit... special (did someone said wacky?) and they bless mankind (and a lot other creatures) with their amazing creations!

Important steampunk inventions - amongst many more - are: the steam engine (of course!), the tesla coil, cavorite,  aether technology (see "A is for aether"!), the airplane, the dirigible (lighter-than-air-vehicles), the submersible, the difference engine (for calculating stuff), the phonograph and the photo camera.

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