Sunday, 21 January 2007


I've been interested in "old things" since I was very young. A fascination with a box of shirt collars that belonged to my Grandfather; trying to understand my father's joke about why wouldn't the robber go into the wash house (because there was a copper in there); my other grandfather's collection of old coins and some jewellery belonging to his grandfather.

Since then it's become a wide-ranging interest in history but the Victorian era has always captured my heart. Men were expected to be MEN and women were expected to be Ladies. The hypocrisy and snobbery have not escaped my notice but I think in the same way that people of the SCA hold an idealised view of the mediaeval world I came to be what would be referred to as a Neo-Victorian.

Oddly the word Neo-Victorian, with it's like of Victorian aesthetics coupled with modern values, seems to be slowly being replaced by "steampunk". For those unfamiliar with the word steampunk was a sort of tongue-in-cheek label from the 80s applied to stories set in the Victorian era but using arcane or scientific devices.

Since then there has been some debate about what is and isn't steampunk, even people wanting to get really anal about it devising names like sandalpunk and dieselpunk. Really, for those wanting to create a new genre to put Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow into, there’s one already there: it's called PULP! One name I've become fond of but sadly hasn't seen widespread use is "Gaslamp Fantasy" as used by the creators of the Girl Genius webcomic.

But I digress.

For me steampunk is essentially Neo-Victorianism but with far more anachronism. It's something I enjoy and something I actively seek out. To this end I've decided to put together this journal that looks at aspects of Steampunk, Neo-Victorianism, SF, Horror and it's related bits and pieces.

It's partially as a result of my involvement with SecondLife that I've put together this blog. On a Yahoo group I frequent a post was made about a new sim opening in SecondLife (SL) that was steampunk themed. Yay, I thought. What the hell was SecondLife?

While not entirely ignorant of online gaming it was something I hadn't pursued with any interest. Not only did the traditional Computer games of shoot-'em-up or hack 'n' slash become boring very quickly, I wasn't going pay for something like this on top of my ISP bill. I don't pay for porn why should this be any different (and before you ask, yes there's a World of Warcraft inspired porn site so it's the same thing now anyway).

So, yes, SL. Some people dislike calling it a game because there's no win. Whatever. SL is probably best described as a huge version of The Sims where you only play one avatar and other people control the other ones you meet. You can build objects using tool functions, script objects to do things, interact with people via chat, form groups, buy land and a whole lot more. One of the things that seems to make SL different from other games is that it has an economy. Rather than wanting the über-sword so you can kill the mega-demon or whatever many of the SL "Residents" own virtual land and want to put a house/shop/secret base on it and furnish it. They also want to make their avatars look pretty, or at least interesting. So there's a thriving community where people who are willing to spend the time wrestling prims into shapes or write scripts or make textures to cover the prims can and do sell them to people who want them but don't know how or can’t be arsed. Using "Linden dollars" people buy and sell. However Lindens are translatable into Real Money. I think the going rate it roughly $L200 per USD at the moment. One woman recently claimed to have earnt her first US $million buying a selling virtual land within SL. I'm sure the IRS will be sticking it's nose in here very soon.

Edward Pearse is my SL persona. When you sign up for names you can pick whatever first name you want but your last name has to be from a supplied list. This list apparently changes from time to time to stop surnames getting stale but when I signed up one it was with the purpose of seeking out the steampunk sim and becoming part of it. One of the names on the list at the time was Pearse. Being a fan of The Great Train Robbery I decided to go with Edward. I realise the movie character was spelt Pierce but still. Working from there I worked on his likeness drawing from both this

and this

to get

The area in question is called Caledon, which is (at current count) 14 sims linked together in a landmass (with two more on the way very soon). Caledon is a private sim in that all the land is own by one person who then leases it to individuals wanting to make a home or business there. I suppose a Monarchy works well for a steampunk flavoured sim. One thing I quickly noticed was that there was very limited fashion for men available in the Victorian style. Plenty of skirts and hats for the ladies but not much for gentlemen. Being somewhat knowledgeable about men's Victorian fashions I decided that this would be my little niche.

I've now discovered why. The clothing template does both male and female torso but it's geared towards the female form. You have to be careful with double rows of buttons if you don't want them to look funny on your male avatar. But I seem to have my admirers and have been making some good sales with the small inventory I have at the moment. I really need to sit down and do texturing rather than logging in to SL itself.

I've got a few clothing ideas that are variations of the traditional British redcoat uniform and I'm slowly coming to grips with prim clothing so there's boots and a female variant of the Volunteer Rifles uniform and trousers and kilts if I can work out the prims.

So there's plenty to keep me occupied. And as I wander the 'net looking for background information I'll often find things I haven't seen before. I'll share them here too. Not only does it mean I have my resourced collected in place, I also let people know about things they may not have been lucky enough to see.