Friday, 19 October 2012


Once again Czar Tim sets the controls for the heart of that we call Steampunk and reflects on how you create a culture.

The beginning of Steampunk technology can be sourced to the thinking machine of one Charles Babbage. From there I could talk about the great engineering works for Brunel and similar. But that would take an awfully long time and I only have limited word space.

So, the main thing to bear in mind when thinking about the manufacturing of Steampunk tech is that there is unlimited scope for ideas and invention. So you want a gun? How big? A flying machine?  Gas or Aether engines?  A mobile phone? Give me time…

But your materials are very limited. Technology levels may be advance but the basic kit to build isn’t great. Plastic is one thing we now look at and think nothing of, but back then? Non-existent, Possibly some form of Bakelite may of existed but as a general use Item? I highly doubt it. (Alexander Parkes made the first plastic back in 1862, it was a thermoplastic celluloid  called Parksine – Ed). So we have our metals (Brass especially), leather (various hues) and Wood. Good old wood, with a skilled hand it can be carved to all sorts of shapes. Herein lies part of the beauty of Steampunk, Not its functionality, but its aesthetic.

 Retro-Tronic is the term I believe.  Within this there is a form of comfort I believe, it hails back to a simpler time. Much like watching an episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ safe in the knowledge  that  this will be followed  ‘Noel’s House Party’. (Yes I am old and apologies to our continental viewers who have no idea what I’m talking about). (Unfortunately I do, I am still in therapy because of it-Ed)

To make something Steampunk, look at its form. What would you make the body out of? If it has buttons, what kind would have existed then? Can I add more decorative cogs? There really isn’t a wrong answer to this. If you dedicate the time to the building then it’ll be worth it. I’ve been repainting guns and making props for about 3 years now and it never fails to impress (I thank God He gave me hands that can do these things). No one has ever said ‘That’s wrong’, because of the multifaceted nature of the beast of Steam. See what people have done with NERF (there are other Foam Dart gun available) weaponry and be amazed.

Throughout writing Victoriana I had the issue of dealing with this interesting problem. In my universe it’s all steam power. Giant cogs and the smell of oil fill the streets of old London town, producing the fog and the problems that brings. But I had an issue to deal with in the Agency Masks. They have to be able to communicate like a Walkie-talkie. So with a little design and some thought I added batteries to the universe. It’s odd how simple a solution this was.

I’m not a scientist, I know nothing about circuit boards or engineering (having friends who know these things are handy) but I have imagination and that’s enough to get on with.

Until next time!


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