Today, Sept. 22, is the great British scientist Michael Faraday’s 226th birthday.
Faraday’s contribution to science are many, and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that before Faraday, electricity was batteries, and afterward, it was Edison and Tesla and all the motors, transformers, and generators they unleashed upon the world.
Faraday’s relationship to science can be summed up in two images: First, Faraday at work at the lab bench in the basement of the Royal Institution, and second, Faraday presiding over a Christmas Lecture–specifically designed for the layman, and for children in particular.
Professionally, I work in a field that is the direct descendant of Faraday–electrochemistry–so Faraday has always been a bit of a hero for me. For more information of Faraday’s life and contributions, see here. I’ve even written Professor Faraday into one of my novels as a major character, “The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday“.
Right about the time that diesel locomotives were gaining ground on the older steam locomotives, some railroads redesigned their steam engines. By streamlining their design, the railroads hoped to keep the steam engines running. In some cases, the re-design was made so that the older steam engines would match the look of the diesel locomotives. In others, doubts about the power that could be obtained from diesel engines was the reason. For whatever reason, the result was a collision between traditional engineering design and the leading art movement of the time, Art Deco, to create some amazing examples of railway design.
A description of all that the Art Deco Movement encompasses would take much more than a single blog post. (See the Wikipedia article for a good introduction though.) Suffice to say that Art Deco is in a way a reaction to the earlier movement, Art Nouveau. While Art Nouveau features themes from nature and sinuous curving design elements, Art Deco encompasses more severe geometric forms. Art Deco’s features celebrate the exuberance of the future and its new technologies. One word that is often used to describe Art Deco is streamlined, and that is the exact reason for the redesign of steam engines in the late 1930s: to make them look fast and luxurious. Ironically, little if any performance improvements were realized as the additional weight of the streamlining offset any advantage in lowering wind resistance.
This page is based on a talk I gave at the 2018 Clockwork Alchemy con entitled “On-Line Research for Steampunk Novels”. During the course of writing my novels, I’ve discovered a number of great on-line resources that I found extremely useful in researching the Victorian Era, its technology, society and history, and of course, its cockeyed offspring Steampunk.
This list should be helpful for writers of both historical fiction and fictional history as we all want to get the details right–except when we don’t. Because my steampunk novels revolve around Victorian Britain, this list is starting off biased in that direction–but there are plenty of other ways to write steampunk.
I’ll keep the link to this list at the top of the front page of the blog and I invite you to leave your favorite on-line resource in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list (with appropriate credit, of course!).
This first poem for the NaPoWriMo month of April ought to have been posted some hours ago, shortly after going to the Easter Sunday church service and lunch at a local hostelry. However, that is when we met a couple of steampunk enthusiasts, dressed flamboyantly in a mix of retro styles relating in the main […]
via Starting with Steampunk — Wally Smith
We’re back in sunny California for our next stop, chatting with Charlie, who is the head of Marketing for the Clockwork Alchemy convention. Hello Charlie! When is the convention being held this year? Charlie : This year it will be held March 23-25, 2018,at the Hyatt Regency SFO in Burlingame, California, USA. […]
via Steampunk Road Trip – Clockwork Alchemy — Airship Ambassador