Sunday, February 26, 2012

Guest Post: Professor Raven talks about Steam-Travel!

I’m Emily, sometime-purveyor of Professor Raven’s Curiosity Emporium, air pirate captain in my fondest dreams. I collect and manufacture odd trinkets, Victorian baubles, steampunk curiosities, and gothic-inspired monstrosities. My collection can be found at ProfRavenCuriosities. In my spare time, I read steampunk stories to my Apprentices, train my Mascots, and sharpen my artistic skills; maybe one of these days I should work on my marketing skills. Should you be overcome with the need to send me ideas, or request custom pieces, or ask steampunk questions, I am frequently haunting Twitter as @ProfRaven, or on facebook.
Pack your steamer trunk; secure your goggles; strap your compression gun securely to your back, we’re going for a ride! OK, since I’m a struggling artist, and a parent of small children-like things, I can’t really take you anywhere… here’s where I’m asking you to use your imagination. You’re steampunk, this should be child’s play. OK, so children are good at imagination, my metaphor lacks substance and originality, I get it, let’s move on.
Where were we? Imagination, right! Those that consider themselves part of the steampunk community are hugely inventive, creative, thoughtful people! Look at some of the things we’ve created, dreamed, written… and flown. That’s where my heart roosts in the steampunk night: around the airships, the hangars, the flying-contraption factories. While I simply *adore* all the aspects of steampunk, the one that’s really captivated me are the people-movers.
Can’t you just picture them? Steam-driven cars with crushed velvet upholstery; buttery burled wood inlaid on the dash and doors; polished brass gauges measuring boiler temp, coal volume, steam pressure, and vehicle speed; a driver with scarf streaming out behind, goggles firmly affixed, leather gloves to the elbow. Maybe a riveted-steel carriage, with automata horses, luggage rack of brass and chrome, ferrying passengers about town. A cycle-of-motorisation, with a larger-than-life front wheel, the driver standing on a chariot-like platform above the much smaller rear wheel, chugging along merrily. Close your eyes; can’t you see all these vehicles on a bustling street, competing for space with the messenger boys, horse-drawn carriages and hansom cabs, pedestrians in various stages of finery? Smell the acrid burning coal, hear the faint hiss of the boilers as they pass.
Perhaps, rather than posh London or modern New York, we’re in war-ravaged Germany on the French border. We’ve successfully evaded a platoon of German soldiers, laying low, the black leather clothing we’ve fashioned providing ample camouflage in the dark and shadows, and protection from the odd stray bullet. Just as we think we’re in the clear, the ground starts to shake, the air starts to rumble, and a blast like an otherworldly creature erupts, splitting the night air as a terrible sight is silhouetted against the horizon. A giant monstrosity sits there, waiting hungrily, its eerie workers lit from within like the damned in the very pits of Hell. Just as we regain our senses enough to run, we’re pinned against the landscape by a magnified candle shooting from the creature’s one front eye, and as we shade our own from the onslaught we begin to make out details. This is no eldritch creature come to torment the living! Its hide is made of hammered steel plating, riveted together at the seams. Steam and black smoke pour from the top, mingling together into a choking cloud in the fading light. Just as we realize we’ve been spotted by a sophisticated German tank, the gunner readies the Gatling mounted atop…
As much as these beautiful vehicles give me shivers of delight, they’re not the steampunk transport that really melts my butter. That is reserved for the airships. Not the hot air balloons; those are for tourists, commuters, fairs. I’m talking about the zeppelins, the bullets of the skies, the workhorses of both the military and the thriving pirate trade. Having once been beaten in an aerial dog fight, my crew and I vowed never again. We outfitted the tanks on the Katherine Joy with the lightest steel plating, covering it with the traditional sheeting of the zeppelin to disguise her armour. We gave her a false superstructure over the cabin, making her more resemble a sedate passenger bird. Not coincidentally, this disguised her armature nicely, as well. We increased the fuel and pressure capacity, upgraded the controls to a panel lighter and sleeker; I can afford to give up a beautiful console for a utilitarian one, it gives me more room for plunder! In our next battle, against the Ruby Celine, my gunner was shot from his perch, leaving the choice of sending a deck hand to man the gun, or do it myself. As we dodged fire and tried gamely to return, swooping through the skies, I climbed the rope ladder around the hull, to the gunner platform on top. Bracing my feet in the stirrups, gunner handles over my shoulders, I laughed maniacally as I stitched my initials in their hull. Above the smoke, the noise, I heard someone calling my name… and found my husband shaking me awake from a very adventurous dream!
I’ve laid bare my fondest steampunk wish, to be an air pirate! To sail the skies with freedom and abandon, never to be rooted in the ground again. While some of you may prefer other modes of transport, this is mine.

Emily Ewart
Chic Frugality, Steampunk Edge  
P.S. Don't forget to check out Professor Raven's interview and giveaway from yesterday! You could win your very own Steampunk awesomeness! 


  1. I always appreciated the steampunk transportation, but after reading this, I LOVE it. I wish I would have given it more thought instead of corests....

  2. Awesome post! I love the world of steampunk and Airships are some of my favorites too! Though I actually wouldn't mind a steam motorcycle!