What is Steampunk?

I have recently come to love the Steampunk style and aethesethic. To me it conjures ideas of steam engines, fancy woodwork, complicated brass and copper machinery, gears and cogs, detailed leatherwork, and clothing from the Victorian Era and the Wild West and the intellectual mindset of the age. But most people that I talk to have never even heard of the term Steampunk before.

Wikipedia defines Steampunk as: a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Therefore, steampunk may be described as neo-Victorian.

Now that might sound more complicated than it really is, but it has the nuts and bolts of it. But here is my take on the Steampunk genre.

I was introduced the Steampunk style by many of the famous Victorian Authors we still enjoy today, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jules Verne. Wells and Verne are shining beacons of the Steampunk ideal. With novels like War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, H. G. Wells, tantalizes the readers with Victorian era science and rational. Jules Verne awes us with science and adventure in Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Journey to the Center of the Earth. These amoung many other wonderful books can help you to understand the meaning of What is Steampunk.


As a teen I enjoyed playing RPG’s (Role Playing Games) like Dungeons & Dragons, James Bond, and Ghostbusters. One of the games I was fascinated with was Space 1889. Set in the Victorian Era, the game was a blend of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars with Vernes’ Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The main rule book is chock full of great pictures of flying aetherships and colonial regiments fighting aboriginal martians. The book has been on my shelf for nearly 30 Years.


A slightly more modern example is The Wild, Wild, West TV Show from the 1960’s. It is one of my favorite shows from that time, and is full of Steampunk gadgetry and adventure. It may not be to everyones taste, but does give a good example of what many call Steampunk Technology (fantastical though it was).


I know I have just barely scratched the surface of what Steampunk means, but the answer can be more complicated than you think. And yes, these are only a few of my thoughts, and everyone has their own ideas and interpretations about the subject as well. At least I have given you something to think about.



Elite Aetheric Wave Disruptor Rifle Mark I


Well ladies and gentlemen I am pleased to announce that I have finished my work on the Elite Aetheric Wave Disruptor Rifle Mark – I, and will deliver it to the Placer County Fairgrounds tomorrow for participation in the 2017 Placer County Fair which runs from June 22 – 25.

With all the problems and roadblocks I ran into while doing this project, I’m surprised it turned out so awesome!

The rifle stock itself is a Remington 700 SPS Varmint that was graciously given to me for free from the nice people over at the Rocklin Armory when I told them about wanting to make a Steampunk Rifle.

The rifle electronics runs off of 4 “D-Cell” batteries in the main power box, this powers the green LEDs in the Aetheric Coil Tubes, and the vibration motor mounted along the barrel of the rifle.

For more info check out this page.


Old Projects, Wood Magic Boxes

Some of my first gearsmith projects were custom made wooden Magic: The Gathering boxes. Check out the boxes by clicking here.

For nearly 15 years played a Collectable Card Game called Magic: The Gathering. The game was fun but could be an expensive hobby. I occasionally played at one of the local comic book stores, but more often than not I just played with my friends. With many of my friends moving away I didn’t play anymore.

One of the things I always thought was dumb was the fact that these people would carry their cards around in cheap cardboard boxes. As for myself, I decided to make a more sturdy box out of wood. It was basic box with a flip lid, in which I could put my favorite deck and sideboard. I recently gave one of these boxes to Fantasy Author Brandon Sanderson at a signing for A Memory of Light, the final book of Robert Jordan’s phenomenal The Wheel of Time series.

At the time I worked for a Sign Shop designing and making ADA signage using a computer aided Router/Engraver. I could design artwork on the computer, then have the computer engrave the images onto the wood. I made over a dozen of these custom designed boxes and have sold many of them on eBay.


Disappointment as a Catalyst for Inventiveness

This weekend I started to get things together so that I could make the stand for my Elite Aetheric Wave Disruptor Rifle Mark I. But the vision I had in my head far exceeded the allowable budget. I wanted use PVC piping to build it, but the parts envisioned only are available in metal, and at four times the cost.

After an hour and a half I left my “big box” hardware store disheartened, with my mind searching for alternate construction methods. But that is par for the course I’m afraid. This project has plagued me with nothing but obstacle after obstacle.

First of all I have a limited tool set. The only powered tools I have used on this project were a drill, a cordless Dremel, and a small hand sander. The rest of the tools, saws, Exacto Knives, etc, are all manual. I don’t have a garage or other work room, most of my crafting has been outside on the driveway or in my living room.

As per every step with this project I have had to change my idea of what and how I was going to build something. I wanted a brass nameplate on the stand for instance, but instead I have made a image transfer onto a wood plate that I made myself.


Inventiveness is often forced upon us by limitations (usually by money or time), and often then result is better than your original idea, if not more unique and interesting one. Try to remember that the next time you are confounded by your “Big Box” Hardware store.


Realism, Research, and Writing

Welcome to the Arcane Gearsmith!

This blog is about the creation of things, both of physical objects and of the written word. One often influences the other.

For example in one of my stories a lone survivor of a religious order crafts a magically infused Quaterstaff. I, as the author, crafted my own physical version of that Quarterstaff. I spent weeks designing, sanding, woodburning, polishing, and sealing my own Quaterstaff all to understand my character better. One of the results is that I was able to get deeper into characters thoughts. I could relate to the character as he burned the symbols into the wood because I had done it myself. 

Familiarity can bring realism to your written work, and believability to your characters and stories. Creating the Quarterstaff was a form of research. 

I also research areas of interest related to my writing as well, as do many authors. I have listened to hundreds of hours of college level lectures on subjects such as The Industrial Revolution, Victorian England, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, Daily Life in Ancient Civilizations, and many other topics, all of which help me to ground my writing in Realism.

So long for now. Keep tinkering and writing.