Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares

| September 27, 2013

A spate of bombings has hit London, causing untold damage and loss of life. Meanwhile a strangely garbed figure has been spied haunting the rooftops and grimy back alleys of the capital.


What I Liked About it:

-I have to start off by saying that The Punkettes gets loads of Sherlock Holmes. To the point where we are turning some of it down. So “The Stuff of Nightmares” was a refreshingly different take on the classic stuff. I very much enjoyed the idea of Baron Cauchemar, who was a kind of “Iron Man meets Spring Heeled Jack” character. 
-The story is well written. I know the mystery writer is a good one when I end up genuinely surprised at the twists and turns of the story. There were several things I didn’t see coming, and several points that made me smile and shake my head at how clever Mr. Lovegrove is.
-I also found the portrayal of the character of Holmes to be fairly true and accurate in comparison to the original. He always leaves me irritated on Watson’s behalf, and this book was no different. I consider that a good sign.
What I Didn’t Like:

-Let me first say that I am aware that the writer rarely has any say in his cover. But I was a little disappointed with how the Baron’s suit is drawn on the front. To me it doesn’t scream “Steampunk”. It’s just a little too slick looking, like something I’d expect to see Tom Cruise wearing in the next Mission Impossible. 
-I actually found myself irritated with Watson while I was reading. I would easily pick up something that was foreshadowed, or something I’d consider painfully obvious, while the character of Watson was still scratching his head. Of course, then Holmes would step in and explain everything. This only served to convince me that this version of Watson seemed a bit…well…slow.
-There is a good deal of long-winded explanations and interruptions to the narration, which I normally don’t mind in a Sherlock book, but at times it interrupted the flow of the action and jerked me out of the story, and I ended up skipping it to get to the juicy action parts.
-At the end there is a transformer bit involving a steam engine which set my eyebrows to raising, and then the bad guy tops it off by monologuing, which reminded me of some cartoonish villain who is conveniently explaining all his dastardly plans to the good guys before he kills them.
-There is also no real room for women in this book, apparently, aside from Mrs. Hudson, who answered the door a few times and made them soup. The only other female character was Watson’s wife, who got a few lines about how brave and noble both of the men were. 
In Conclusion:

If you are a Sherlock fan and you want a fresh spin on things, I recommend checking out The Stuff of Nightmares and adding it to your collection.
Oliver the Octopus Gives this 5 out of 8 Tentacles.

The Wall Stree Journal review of … Baritsu (or the "Sherlock Holmes way of self-defense")!

| May 31, 2013

Over the years I have penned a few articls on the genre martial art of Baritsu, but the Wall Street Journal had a very nice and informative article over the practice (which was demonstrated at the Steampunk World’s Fair earlier this year).  To take a peek at the proceedings, please visit the article at this locale!

Book Review: Encounters of Sherlock Holmes

| March 20, 2013

The spirit of Sherlock Holmes lives on in this collection of fourteen brand-new adventures.

What is it?

A collection of short stories featuring our old friends, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Mrs.Hudson and many more familiar faces.
What I Liked

The short stories within are amusing and well written. A few of them particularly stood out. We get a visit from H.G Wells in a science fiction style story (my favorite out of the book) and we encounter a giant squid, black magic and a giant metal “infernal device” type of machine.
What I Didn’t Like

Some of the stories began to blur together in places, without enough to define one from the other. What saves the book is the sprinkle of original, different stories throughout. Please take in to account that as a reader I have a penchant for bizarre, dark stories. Those that entangle magic (or the threat of magic) with the mystery. Hence I found the “weird” stories to be more enjoyable. There was an even mix of normal and abnormal though, and should keep most Sherlock fans happy.
In Conclusion

This story collection is well worth adding to your shelf of steampunk reads. 
Oliver the Octopus Gives You 7 out of 8 Octopus legs.


Book Giveaway Contest: The Lazarus Machine

| January 22, 2013

The 2013 Book Giveaway Extravaganza begins! First up: an Advance Reader Copy of The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley.

 

Lazarus%20Machine
 

It is 1895, and the Babbage Engine is reality. Tesla-powered contraptions are everywhere in London. So are shadowy government figures, and there are even rumors that Moriarty, presumed dead, is really alive, skulking about in the shadows, and kidnapping individuals. Sebastian Tweed sees the proof of this firsthand when his father is abducted in front of him. He joins forces with Octavia Nightingale, who has her own reasons for hunting down the kidnappers, and the result is a Sherlockian steampunkian adventure, with two bantering protagonists, a hive of intrigue, and the beginnings of what looks like a swell series for young adults.

 

We have one advance reader copy of The Lazarus Machine to give away! The usual protocols apply. In order to be considered for the giveaway, post a comment below and tell us what Sherlock Holmes depiction is your personal favorite. Is it Jeremy Brett’s PBS series? The new Benedict Cumberbatch BBC series? Just Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories themselves, in unadulterated form? (I am partial to Young Sherlock Holmes, myself). If we get more than five answers, we’ll do a video giveaway; if not, we’ll do it the old-fashioned way (probably dice-rolling). The deadline is Sunday, January 27th. Good luck to everyone, and we’ll have another book to give away next week!

 

More information on The Lazarus Machine at Pyr Books.

More information on author Paul Crilley via his Facebook and Twitter pages.

typewriters, torches and more

| July 17, 2012

Adding newfangled technology to classical music? Behold, the fantastic typewriter piece!

 

 

Imagine glasses that can see into your soul. Well, maybe not the soul, but at least into veins and possibly more!

 

 

The best bouquet ever: flowers made from Sherlock Holmes stories and a sonic screwdriver for a stem.

 

 

LEGO now features rather steampunky “monster fighters” as a set.

 

 

Imagine a column of steam rising from the countryside…to celebrate the Olympics. Well, and why not? It’s going to happen! (Also, in related news although not steampunky, you can track the Olympic torch relay as it happens. Eddie Izzard will take up the torch later today!)

 

And finally, happy news for readers: we have reached the tipping point in books, so get your typing fingers ready to participate in a steampunk/sci-fi boo giveaway soon! Sir Reginald cannot wait to opine on the books (and the entries). 

Steampunk authors, bedtime stories, and theatre!

| April 26, 2012

Once more into the lesser explored reaches of the aethernet!

In the past two years, steampunk fiction has become part of the mainstream, with thousands of anthologies, novels, and online narratives, to say nothing of how steampunk has filtered into the Hollywood movie production line (need I mention the Sherlock Holmes re-boot?). 

With the proliferation of publications, and online blogs,

Nathan Fillion, the anitphone, and the versalator

| March 6, 2012

If you had the chance to rename the phonograph, what would you call it? A list of alternatives considered by Thomas Edison includes some gems, such as “anitphone” (“back talker”). I think he chose pretty wisely.

Sherlock Holmes is alive and well in several incarnations these days, huzzah!

Sure, you may have refrigerator magnets. You may even have refrigerator poetry magnets. But do you have the Magneto Versalator Steampunk Magnetic Word Set?

And, if you have a few extra thousand lying around the domicile, you could bid on the steampunk mechanical arm worn by Nathan Fillion in an episode of Castle. (Thanks to Aaron of Conceptopolis for the link!)

 

Sherlock Holmes II is finally out!

| December 17, 2011

After surviving the recent low of Steampunk (yes, the oft mentioned, and quite painful to watch Justin Bieber “Steampunk” video”), a Steampunk gem has re-emerged!  Sherlock Holmes II, A Game of Shadows opens this evening, and I felt it was appropriate to give a quick mention to this well received production (or at least by “critical” review).  From the list of reviews I have garnered so far, it looks to be outstanding, albeit there seemed to be much hand-wringing about an overly friendly relationship between the two protagonists at IO9. Nonetheless, it is a breath of fresh air to have this Steampunk Christmas treat… and it is the proverbial “out the door”, so I can catch the showing this evening!  
Do enjoy an interview at the London Premiere, enjoy a few reviews (listed below)… then venture forth and enjoy the production!
Well… enough reviews – go and see it!

Results of the latest poll… with the new Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows trailer…!

| October 21, 2011

A bit behind on the poll results, so I’ll address the most immediate question, regarding the most anticipated Steampunk themed movie for the balance of the year.  The results were quite resounding, with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows garnering 88 votes (or 70% of the total), followed by The Invention of Hugo Cabret with 19 votes (15% of the total), and the new Three Musketeers movie in third place with 17 votes (13% of the total).  After seeing the most recent trailer for Sherlock Holmes: AGOS, I certainly understand the anticipation, although Mr. Downey Jr. is quite atrocious in his lady-esque costume.  Nonetheless, do enjoy the trailer, and be ready on December 16th, when the production arrives at the theaters!
To visit the movie’s website, just follow the link!: http://sherlockholmes2.warnerbros.com/index.html

Poll Question: Which upcoming 2011 Steampunk movie are you looking forward to seeing?

| July 14, 2011

Looking forward towards the projected movies for the remainder of 2011, I was intrigued that the latter half of the year has three Steampunk movies (or at least productions with a Steampunk bent to them) coming to the screens.  I was debating as to which one would be the most anticipated, so I figured it would be a perfect poll question!  The movies in question are: The Three Musketeers (opening in October, 2011), The Invention of Hugo Cabaret (opening in November, 2011), and Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows (opening in December).  I’ll simply provide the movie, trailers, and associated links, (without *too* much chatter), then feel free to vote on the sidebar!

As mentioned previously, the new Three Musketeers is a tad prior to what many consider the classic Steampunk timeline, but the movie has a plethora of Steampunk tropes, including what appears to be an outstanding airship battle!

For more information, please visit:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1509767/
http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/06/10/the-three-musketeers-poster-is-a-feast-for-the-eyes
http://upcoming-new-movies.com/the-three-musketeers-2011-synopsis-and-reviews.html

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The exceptional Caldecott winning children’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (or as its being “rebranded” as “Hugo“), is also a tad outside the classic Steampunk era, but the immensely popular book involves an orphan who maintains clocks in a Paris train station – I won’t divulge any more beyond that tidbit, but there is a classic Steampunk aspect to this production as well.  Mr. Martin Scorese will be directing this movie, but alas, I was unsuccessful in locating any video footage of this work, thus I’ve chosen to include this indepenent work reagarding the book itself…
Projected to be released in December, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, staring the previous cast, but with the addition of Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriaity, is certain to be an outstanding affair.  This movie is actually placed in the Victorian era, and just so happens the newest trailer was recently released (located below), so please do enjoy!
For more information, please visit:

Young Gentlemen Explorers – A Steampunk Kickstarter series in the making!

| June 8, 2011

The newest addition to the Kickstarter series is an intriguing endeavor titled “Young Gentlemen Explorers”.  A projected live action production, it is still in its nascent stage, though plenty of planning has been completed – or as its narrative states…
The first live action Steampunk show of its kind! Set in the depression of 1893, Riley and the The Magician are freelance explorers forced into taking a job from a secret government agency in exchange for not having their pile of acculturated criminal chargers come due. Their mission is to retrieve the powerful Infinity Pistol found in one of the Grimm’s Brothers Fairy Tales before the Prussian’s do.

Now with an army of evil Prussian soldiers after them and an iron grip around them from a secret government agency, these two explores must now partner up with a beautiful Mexican artifact agent in order to find the pistol before the Prussian’s can weaponize it. Young Gentlemen Explorers has a rich Indiana Jones-like story to it with a Sherlock Holmes character dynamic all with a Steampunk ascetic. This is truly something you haven’t seen before!”

To learn a bit more regarding this work, do consider visiting its Kickstarter location, at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/standardissuetv/young-gentlemen-explores-steampunk-web-series?ref=live

Now Available – “The Steampunk Bible” by Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers.

| May 2, 2011

The Steampunk Bible  – “An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature”, published by Abrams Books, is now available on Amazon.
It is described by Abrams Books as:
The Steampunk Bible is the first compendium about the movement, tracing its roots in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells through its most recent expression in movies such as Sherlock Holmes. Its adherents celebrate the inventor as an artist and hero, re-envisioning and crafting retro technologies including antiquated airships and robots. A burgeoning DIY community has brought a distinctive Victorian-fantasy style to their crafts and art. Steampunk evokes a sense of adventure and discovery, and embraces extinct technologies as a way of talking about the future. This ultimate manual will appeal to aficionados and novices alike as author Jeff VanderMeer takes the reader on a wild ride through the clockwork corridors of Steampunk history.”
Check out the companion blog – The Steampunk Bible.