Behold the mini free library. In response to the closings and cutbacks imposed on libraries in recent years, a “Little Free Library” movement has formed to fill the gap and make certain that people are still able to enjoy and share books free of cost. The movement was begun in 2009 in Wisconsin by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, and it has since grown into a remarkable and truly uplifting movement. They encourage others to follow their example and make their own miniature free libraries.
Fiction and Excerpts 
The Wars of Other Men is an ambitious and stunning independent short film by director Mike Zawacki. It is currently in post-production, but I was privileged to be shown a pre-release press screening of the film and I can only say that I was blown away by what I saw. Set in a pseudo early-20th century setting (the film blends aspects and imagery from both world wars), The Wars of Other Men tells the story of a squad of soldiers dispatched on a dangerous mission to obtain a powerful new weapon from the enemy.
It seems I’m getting roped into being the event announcer for all the fun Halloween happenings of New York City this year! For anyone not attending the Beyond the Veil event I mentioned a couple weeks ago (or for anyone who wants to be crazy like me and do both in one night…), I heartily recommend Gemini & Scorpio’s Masquerade Macabre in Brooklyn on Saturday, Oct 29. Gemini & Scorpio has always done a magnificent job blending vaudeville, carneval, and nightclub acts into a fantasy speakeasy from a 1920s that haunts the realm of the imagination. And now they are taking on Halloween!
The Masquerade Macabre is Saturday, October 29, from 9:30 PM to 5 AM, with a special VIP salon from 8-9:30 PM. It is at Irondale Center, 85 S Oxford, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. For tickets and information, be sure to visit the Gemini & Scorpio website.
It’s probably safe to say that Halloween is one of the greatest holidays of the year (costumes plus ghost stories always equal fun in my book), but alas it has fallen on hard times recently. The “spook” has gone out of the season, replaced an odd slap-dash of camp and costume that, though often fun, simply lacks the sinister grace of a proper All Hallows Eve night. Therefore, it is quite refreshing to see events putting an effort into finding a middle ground between entertainment and fright.
The one that I will be attending this year is Beyond the Veil, a vintage-themed murder mystery theater event run by Dances of Vice. The mystery’s setting (an opera performance taking place in 1901) gives a pretext for the event’s live music without breaking the theme of the evening. I for one am looking forward to it with great excitement. If you’re in New York for Halloween, you should definitely check it out.
“Beyond The Veil: A Victorian Murder Mystery Ball” takes place on October 29 from 8 PM to midnight at Riverside Church in New York City.
Death and the Compass is a little known but wonderfully composed noir film based on a short story of the same name by Jorge Luis Borges. The film is told as a story within a story, partly narrated by Treviranus, the chief of police in the film’s unnamed city. Treviranus’s narration comes in the form of a conversation with an unseen interviewer, and in it he is seen discussing the events surrounding the death of a police detective, Erik Lönnrot (played by the magnificent Peter Boyle).
Series: Noir Week on Tor.com
June 30, 1908 AD
It was morning over the boreal forests of central Siberia, and thewilderness had awakened, just as it had since time immemorial, to the rustling of branches, the songs of birds and the buzzing of insects. Deep beneath the ground inside a bunker of concrete and steel, Maxim Rykov sat in his small, Spartan ofﬁce and poured over a pile of notes and charts with the vigor of a fanatic. He had not slept the night before, such was the signiﬁcance of his work, and now his bleary eyes were kept open only by the knowledge that today would be the day that he would deliver Russia from her enemies.
This weekend (May 7-8) the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation will be hosting a steampunk festival in the town of Waltham, MA. The museum is working closely with the City of Waltham to make this a town-wide event. I will be appearing as a guest and sitting on a variety of panels, including one discussing The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers, which I was a contributor to.
After much anticipation, the HBO television series Game of Thrones has arrived with a bang. There is undoubtedly much to be said about this adaptation, but I will leave that to wiser heads. Instead, I would like to point out the remarkable job done by the program’s marketing department. Game of Thrones has been highly anticipated, and not only because of its connection to A Song of Ice and Fire.
Terry Gilliam’s Brazil imagines a world in which bureaucracy has won. It is a terrifying vision of the future. Brazil is a place where forms and procedures are more important than people, and where a paperwork error is the fault of the victim, not the bureaucrat who made it. Sentiments such as creativity, individuality, morality and the sanctity of life have no meaning in such a world that embraces its own stagnation and irrationality as points of pride and marks of its success.
Series: Dystopia Week
A new film version of The Three Musketeers has appeared on the horizon, and it promises a great deal of action, excitement, stunning visuals, and a healthy helping of science fiction. The trailer currently available offers little hint to the film’s plot (aside from the shadow of war threatening to engulf the whole of Europe), but the costuming, action sequences and other bits of eye candy are all extremely promising. Even more interesting, the trailer hints that the film will be embracing more than a little Renaissance and Enlightenment era sci-fi (what is often referred to as “clockpunk”). If the trailer’s visions of flying ships, massive volley guns and even an ornamented flamethrower are anything to go by, The Three Musketeers should have plenty to entertain science fiction fans and action enthusiasts alike.
G.D. Falksen is a professional author, MC, lecturer and public speaker and writes in a wide range of genres including historical fiction, pulp adventure, vintage weird, steampunk, modern fantasy, science fiction (often with historical allusions), conspiracy, mystery, suspense and horror.
Last week, the Grammy-nominated band Panic! At The Disco released the music video for the first single of their new album, Vices & Virtues. The video for this single, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”, is inspired by the aesthetics of the steampunk genre and is built around the steps and imagery of traditional Victorian mourning and funerary arrangements.
The video includes a great deal of steampunk imagery, specifically in clothing. In particular, Panic! At The Disco’s vocalist, Brendon Urie, wears a mechanized arm accessory that is clearly reminiscent of a well-known design created by Brute Force Studios and also features goggles on his hat, likely an homage to the Girl Genius comics by Phil and Kaja Foglio, which first introduced that style into the steampunk aesthetic in 2001. The video also uses various extras dressed in steampunk clothing, including the performance group League of STEAM, and the video’s director, Shane Drake, should be applauded for filling the background with the sort of outfits one often finds at the club. The video is quite enjoyable and it features a very clear example of the so-called “ragamuffin” style of steampunk.
I think we can all look forward to seeing what the video for Panic! At The Disco’s next single has to offer when it reveals itself. It will be interesting to see the next steampunk style they choose to explore. Perhaps it will be a more elegant high Victorian style of steampunk with frock coats, gowns and gilded machinery; or perhaps a rugged and adventurous explorer look with pith helmets and safari clothes. Perhaps we’ll even get one of each.
G.D. Falksen likes the fact that the general public has begun taking an interest in steampunk, and hopes that this means all of the artists who have been working in the genre and subculture for the past decade will finally get the reward they’ve earned.
Today, February 8, is the 183rd birthday of Jules Verne, and there is more than enough reason for us to celebrate it. (As those of you doing internet searches today may have noticed, Google certainly has.)
From his earliest inception, Batman has been tied to the noir genre. When Batman was first introduced by Detective Comics (now DC Comics) in 1939, the character and his stories were heavily influenced by the grittiness of the detective pulps of the time. Batman was a grim figure perfectly fitted to the world he resided in: part detective and part avenger. As the early character evolved over the course of the next issues he appeared in, he gained a tragic origin story worthy of any embittered or disillusioned noir or pulp protagonist. Not surprisingly, Batman was immediately extremely popular and by 1940, a year after the character’s introduction, he had gained his own comic book series.
The music video to Lovett’s song “Eye of the Storm” is a beautiful example not only of steampunk (which it portrays magnificently) but of music videos as a form of art.
The video follows the story of a solitary pilot flying his airship into the titular eye of the storm. The music is haunting and beautiful, and is perfectly matched by the grimness of the stark world and vast clouded skies of the video.
The holidays are a time of joy and fellowship, when people around the world join together with friends and family to celebrate. But for many communities, poverty intrudes even in what should be a most joyous time. This year, Jeni Hellum of the blog Multiculturalism for Steampunk has sent out a rallying call both to her readers, to fans of steampunk and to the community at large to join together as a group and help make this season better for those less fortunate than us.
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