Letter From America

The shimmering airship positively purred as it landed in the grounds of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers. Airship, Floating Islands, Sails, Castle

Charles and Henry – the resident tinkers – were almost tripping over one another to reach it first and see it at close quarters.

With a faint hiss of air from a piston somewhere, a ladder descended and a young lady who (Henry later remarked) shimmered almost as beautifully as her ship, climbed down.

She laughed at their expressions and said, “Well, I reckon y’all must be Mister Charles and Mister Henry, from what I’ve heard.”

The brothers looked – if possible – even more astonished.  It was Charles who remembered his manners first.
“Charles Fortescue at your service, Madame,” he said, “And may I introduce my brother Henry?  To what do we owe this honour?”

“Delighted to meet you both, I’m sure,” the pilot smiled. “My name is Leticia. We have a mutual friend, gentlemen – a charming young man called Jasper Coggleford.  He told me that if I flew Bluejay here it would be you who came out to take a closer look.”

“Little Jasper?” spluttered Henry.  “Jeremiah’s boy?  But how…?”

“Jasper and his father have recently moved to my neighbourhood,”  Leticia explained.  “We struck up a conversation and when I mentioned that I was about to fly across to the West of England, Jasper was most insistent that I should come and make your acquaintance.  He said your eyes would pop out of your heads when you saw Bluejay!  Oh, and he also asked me to hand deliver this letter to you.”

To be honest, the Fortescues were so enchanted with both the airship and its pilot, that it was only several hours after Leticia had finally declined any more tea and biscuits and reluctantly headed off to her appointment in Bristol that Charles remembered Jasper’s envelope.  With a pang of guilt, they sat down to read his letter.

Dear Mister Charles and Mister Henry,

I hope you like Miss Leticia and her airship.  I bet you will!

Me and Pa are nicely settled in at our new home in America.  So are Mr Augustus and Mr Bjørn.  The people here are real nice, as they say around here.

There is one problem, though.  It seems part of our work over here involves battling with a Kraken or two.  Pa is being ever so brave, but I can tell he’s nervous and I am terrified.  I mean, we have some woodworking tools, but what we need are proper weapons.  I don’t know anyone as good as you gents at inventing and tinkering, so I thought maybe you could have a try at making some monster-maiming gizmos.

Miss Leticia is coming back at the end of the month, so if you had anything prepared by then, I know she’d be happy to pick it up.

I know you won’t let us down.

Please say hi to everyone there.

Kindest regards,

Jasper Coggleford

“Hi?” muttered Charles.  “The boy is certainly settling in over there.”

“Yes, yes, but the weapons!” exclaimed Henry.  “They need our help.  Let’s make a start at once!”

There was a marked reluctance on Charles’ part, Henry noticed.  He’d rummaged around and found some swords in an attic, so had set about making armoured leather scabbards.  However he spent rather too long admiring himself in the mirror, whilst brandishing one sword after another and shouting things like, “Have at ye!” and “Take that, vile sea dog!”

“Swords!” grumbled Henry.  “You might slice off a leg or two, but the mouth will still be coming at you.  We need something more, ah, mechanical.  Something to blow the creatures to kingdom come.”

He stood for most of the first day surrounded by what you or I might think of as junk, carefully trying out different combinations and attachments.  By the end of the third day there was a veritable arsenal surrounding him.

“Is that one of Mrs S’s Christmas tree baubles?” asked Charles, suspiciously eyeing the end of one of the largest guns.

“That’s tinkering for you,” was all Henry would reply.

“And that thing with the rotary saw -”

“The Sawful. Yes, isn’t she a beauty?”

“Try walking around with that dangling from your shoulder and you’ll slice your own leg off!” Charles snorted.  “Hand it over – carefully, man.  I’ll make it a protective carrying case.”

“Then they’ll need small pistols,” mused Henry.  “They won’t be able to carry these things about all the time.  Young Jasper probably couldn’t even lift one.”

Charles didn’t speak.
Henry looked long and hard at his brother. “You don’t like weapons much, do you, old boy?”

Charles shrugged. “Not a great fan, if I’m honest,” he said quietly.  “I mean the swords are fine, man-to-man combat, fair enough.  But blasting some dumb creature out of existence with one of those – things…  Hardly cricket, is it?”

Henry grinned.  He clapped his brother gently on the back and nodded.  “I do see your point.  The thing is, I don’t think monsters play by MCC Laws.  How would we feel if we heard little Jasper had had his head torn off by some ravaging beast?  We need to give the poor lad a sporting chance.  Suppose you work on making some belts and holsters, if I work out how to make the pistols?”

“Thanks, old chap.  Appreciate it,” nodded Charles and he headed off to find some more leather.

And when everything was finished and safely packaged, ready for its long journey over the ocean, Charles had one final item prepared – a peacock blue pistol with matching holster as a gift for the pilot of the Bluejay,  because, as Charles explained, you just never know when you might need to protect yourself against an attack from some dreadful creature of the skies.

 

The Black Door

It’s possible that the ancient black wooden door at the front of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers is as old as the building itself.  Certainly there is a huge iron key that looks to be many centuries old.

What comings and goings that door must have seen.  And certainly there have been plenty in the present month.

Just imagine our amazement when the infamous Dr Oskar Kopp and his ‘enhanced’ assistant Bjørn arrived.  They had left us several years ago to accompany a reknowned storyteller and share their tales with her audiences.  Now, it seems, the good lady is moving to another continent and asked whether she could return these gentlemen and their laboratory to us.

If you are unfamiliar with their story, you could go to this link and its successor and read about them.

The doctor, we noticed, looked somewhat older and perhaps slightly frail.  Bjørn, on the other hand, appears to be thriving with his mechanically enhanced brain and strong clockwork heart.  We look forward to hearing about his research into alchemy, when Dr Kopp is out of earshot.

However there have also been some departures.

Augustus Robottom has clearly become disillusioned with the little robots he has been creating.  He grabbed a copy of The Time Traveller’s Companion and announced that he was relocating to Alabama.

“But what about these small, er, devices of yours?”  Mrs S enquired.

“Confound the things!” he said gruffly.  “I suggest sending them over to the Magpie.  I think they would fit in well there.”

“Ah yes.  Excellent idea,” agreed Mrs S, and she began packing them up to take to the rather wonderful Vintage and Curiosities shop she supplies in Midsomer Norton.

The very next day, Mr Coggleford the furniture restorer and young Jasper, his son and apprentice, told us that they intended to follow in Gus’s footsteps and would be taking one of the time machines as well as one of their finest cabinets with them.

All three will be sorely missed here, but we applaud their ambition and hope that their life in the New World will be most successful.

Now we hear rumours that more ladies and gentlemen will be joining us to once again swell the ranks of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers’ inhabitants.  Today, though, with storms raging outside, the massive black door remains firmly shut.

 

Molly Moving On

There was the tiniest tap on my workshop door.

“Hello Molly.  Come on in.  Everything OK?”

Molly blushed and did that little bob curtsey thing she does.  “I’m so sorry to bother you, Mrs Steampunkle, ma’am.  I wouldn’t normally.  It’s just that this is something rather important ma’am.”

“Molly you’re welcome anytime. So what is this important thing?”

Lost in a bookShe rummaged in her pocket and brought out a rather crumpled envelope. To my surprise, her eyes filled with tears.
“Ma’am, you’ve been so good and kind to me,” she blurted out. “You gave me my first job, and it’s such a good job, too – reading books in the Literary Emporium you built especially for me, and showing the customers how lovely all the books are… And they are lovely too. I really, truly mean that. I just don’t know how to tell you this…”
The poor child began to sob in earnest.

“You want to move on,” I smiled. “Is that it?”

She gasped. “OH! How did you know? I’m so sorry but yes, ma’am. I do. You see I’ve had this letter from her ladyship – Lady Josephine, ma’am, the Lord High Admiral’s wife.  Imagine her writing a real letter to me!  She tells me that she has met Mr Ashley Miller, the famous author of that wonderful book about Brasston and that he is going to accompany them on their visit to that great city, in the dirigible.  But, oh!  Here is the amazing part, ma’am – she says that as it was me, or is it I?  As I was the person who first discovered and showed her the book, they’d like me to go with them on the journey.  I’m just so happy and proud, ma’am, I could burst.  Imagine an ordinary little girl like me taking a ride in the Lord High Admiral’s craft!  And I’ll get to see Lady Josephine again – she was always so kind to me, ma’am.  AND I’ll get to meet Mr Ashley Miller in person!  Oh and I’ll get to visit the amazing, cosmopolitan city of Brasston!
The outside view“But that means, ma’am, that I’ll have to leave you and the Emporium, and whatever will you do, ma’am, to get the visitors to come and read the books if I’m not there to encourage them?”

It would have been quite wrong to laugh, despite the comical appearance of this agitated child – lauging one minute and weeping the next.  I did my best to mop up her tears and assured her that she must of course go on the journey to visit Lady Josephine and accompany her on the expedition to Brasston.

“We could ask young Alice to take over your job in the bookshop,”  I suggested.  “She is a very keen reader.”

The inside viewMolly clapped her hands in delight and agreed that this was a splendid idea.  I then told her I’d found her ladyship’s partly written journal in a dusty corner of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and asked Molly if she would kindly take it with her, so that Josephine could continue to keep a record of her adventures.

“Oh yes, ma’am, of course I will.  She will be so pleased to have it back.  And if you would be so kind, might I also take one of our blank notebook and pencil sets for Mr Ashley Miller, ma’am?  Being a famous author, I’m sure he would want to keep a record of the journey for himself.”

“Molly, that is an excellent idea.  Pop down to the Emporium and choose one for him, then we must help you to pack.”

There followed many tearful ‘thank yous’, interspersed with at least a dozen more ‘ma’ams’.  I am happy to say, though, that Molly set off on her long journey North this morning and will soon be reunited with the Admiral and his lovely wife, and all of us here wish them a most splendid adventure together.

 

More information on Ashley Miller’s Lego-Steampunk fusion book Brasston can be found at this link.

Molly’s Literary Emporium will continue to sell books, both at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls and in our Etsy shop at this link.

A Visit to Brasston, Chapter 3

This is all becoming a rather intriguing co-production…

Some long-standing readers of our little blog may recall a post a while ago in which some of the residents of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers discovered a large book about a steampunk city constructed of Lego bricks.  Jan Miller – the author’s mother – who shares our fascination with steampunk and all things miniature, acquired some of the characters who appeared in the original story and then wrote a sequel as a guest blog.  You can read the story so far at this link.

I’m most happy to say that she has now penned a further intriguing chapter in this saga, which I include below.

A visit to Brasston  Chapter 3

Lady Josephine was just taking afternoon tea in the Conservatory when a blinding flash of light and a loud whirring noise made her jump to her feet, knocking over pots and tea things. There materialised in front of her Mr. Ashley G. K. Miller in a strange contraption with whizzing disc and coloured lights. As it came to a halt he called out, ‘Phew, that was a little hairy!’

‘My dear Mr. Miller!’ exclaimed Josephine ‘What a surprise! – how did you get here?’

‘This is my new Time Machine,’ Ashley explained.  ‘ Following the ideas of the esteemed author, Mr. H.G. Wells. I have experimented with it only once before.’

‘Good Gracious! You mean you have travelled through time?!’

‘ Not exactly on this occasion.’  Ashley climbed stiffly out of the chair squashed behind the driving mechanism. ‘No, I did experiment with that last week, but it was a bit weird – I ended up down a rabbit hole with some very strange characters like an hallucinating caterpillar and a mad hatter.  But talking to them and a little girl called Alice, also from the Larger World, I was interested in her experience of changing size in order to be there. As you know, I am from the Larger World, where I wrote my original Traveller’s Guidebook to Brasston. When you and your friends asked for my help in visiting that extraordinary city, I hit upon the idea of trying to use the machine to shrink myself to your size so that we can all go on this trip to Brasston together.’

‘It seems to have worked- and here…’ Ashley rummaged behind the seat, ‘should be a miniaturised version of that very guidebook for you!’

‘Oh thank you!’ exclaimed Josephine. ‘That will make it a lot easier for us to use, and I was wondering how we were going to get the original guidebook inside our Dirigible.’

‘Exactly.’

‘Will you be able to return to your own size when you go home, however?’

‘Well I did when I got out of the rabbit hole – but I’m not quite sure how I did it!’ mused Ashley.

‘Oh dear, you need to write everything down exactly how you did it to get here, before you forget – would you like to join me for tea while you do that?’

‘What an excellent idea’ agreed Ashley, rummaging for his reduced sized notebook, but then realising he had forgotten the pen to match the size to which he had now shrunk. But Lady Josephine furnished the right size of pen.

‘So do you think the Time Machine adapts to the size of the world into which youtravel?’ she asked.

‘Yes, it seems to adapt to whatever the ambient conditions are,’ replied Ashley.

‘How extraordinary!’

‘Yes, I’m just beginning to explore the possibilities.  But I’m not sure if this will help us when we get to Brasston – they are even smaller than you, being Lego! However, my Time Machine, unfortunately, can only take one person at a time.’

‘Oh! How did you find out about this extraordinary Lego city of Brasston?’

‘Well I was reading the esteemed author, Jonathan Swift, about Gulliver’s Travels, and contacting him through my Time Machine, I found he had discovered this place, as well as Lilliput.’

‘Good Gracious! Do you think they will see us as undesirable giant aliens and pin us to the ground also?!’

‘I hope not, but nothing is achieved by being afraid!’

 

We hope you enjoyed that and are looking forward – as we are – to the next instalment.

The steampunk figures and time machine were made by Steampunk-Shrunk and similar items are available at our etsy shop at this link.  Miniature versions of the Brasston book, as featured in this story, are available to order from this site.  Please use the contact form on the home page.

Ashley Miller’s delightful Brasston book can be purchased in a ‘Larger World’ (full)size version from the Brasston Facebook page by clicking here. It would make a thoughtful gift for anyone, including children, interested in Lego and/or steampunk.

Time – Running like Clockwork

Up in the dizzy heights of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, things were getting somewhat overcrowded.  We pride ourselves of being able to upcycle and repurpose just about anything that comes our way, but there are limits.

“We’ve repainted and upholstered all these odd dining chairs,” explained Jeremiah, but to be honest, nobody is going to want to buy them.  Everyone wants chairs in sets of four, preferably with a table.”
“I know just what you mean,” replied Charles. “My problem is all these not-quite-working clockwork mechanisms. Take this one, for example. It purrs along beautifully, but the rubber bellows has perished, so there’s no sound. We can’t make a silent songbird automaton, but it’s too good to throw out.”

Young Jasper, Jeremiah’s son, was listening intently.  He started to stroll round the clockwork machine.
“Excuse me, Mister Charles, Sir, but don’t you and Mister Henry make time machines?”
“Yes, Jasper, indeed we do,” Charles smiled.
“And what do they need to make them work?”

Charles laughed. “Perhaps a bit technical for a young nipper like yourself, but basically a valve and piston to build up a huge amount of pressure and a temporal modulator to control the time travel.”

“So if you took out the bird whistle and used its piston in a cylinder to build up the pressure, could you maybe use the arm that should move the bird to do the time modulation?” the boy enquired.

Charles’ jaw dropped open and he stared in amazement at the child.

“‘Cos I’m thinking Mrs S has those working watch faces kicking around somewhere – the ones that wouldn’t fit in our grandfather clocks, and we could let you have one of our spare chairs.  Oh, and I’ve been working on a camera that’s controlled by a foot pedal. I was going to use it to take what I call ‘selfies’, but I’m sure it could be adapted to fit a time machine, so that the time traveller could provide proof of the places visited…  Um…have I said something wrong?”
The boy blushed crimson, as he noticed that quite a crowd had gathered and all were staring at him with the most curious expression.

Charles took a deep breath. “No, Jasper, you have done nothing wrong.  Indeed, you have just had the most stupendous idea.  What a remarkable boy you are!  Would you care to help Henry and I to build the prototype, if your father can spare you, of course?”

Now it was Jeremiah’s turn to blush, as his heart swelled with pride.  “I’d be happy to release my son from his work with me for a while, Charles.  He’s a remarkable lad and I’m sure he’ll learn a great deal from you.”
“And vice versa,” muttered Henry, Charles’ brother and co-inventor.

And so the work began.  Henry tinkered, Charles created the elegant canopy and young Jasper buzzed around making wise suggestions and helping to attach the parts.  Even Henry just stood and scratched his head when the boy suggested installing a plasma screen above the motor, so that the traveller could see the view from the back-facing camera.
“Where do you get your ideas from, young Jasper?” he asked. “Are you sure you haven’t been time-travelling yourself and visiting the future?”
“Don’t know, Sir,” the boy shrugged. “They just sort of pop into my head somehow. Shall I fetch you the plasma screen I was working on last week?  It should fit nicely inside Mister Charles’ canopy there.”

Eventually the machine was finished.  Henry took his place on the velvet-upholstered chair and turned the brass key.  The piston began to pump, while the clock swung around on its steel arm.  Cams and cogs whirred cheerfully.

“There’s room for a little ‘un by my feet, if you can spare him, Coggleford,” Henry called to Jeremiah.

Jasper looked longingly at his father, but the man shook his head.  “Not today, my friend.  There are some things even Jasper is too young for yet awhile.  One day, though.”

“Soon,” muttered Jasper, hopefully.  Then, “Safe journey Mister Henry, Sir.  And please take lots of photographs for me.”

“Certainly will, young man,” grinned Henry, as he reached across and started the clock.

The Clockwork Time Machine, with working clockwork motor and quartz clock is for sale at http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SteampunkDollsHouse.  Click here or on one of the photos to go to the listing.

Scourge of the High Skies

Well if you’re thinking my face looks familiar – drat!

You have probably seen this very unflattering mug shot on those tiresome WANTED posters the Admiralty keeps sticking up around the public houses of Bristol.  Where’s a man supposed to go for a quiet tot of gin these days?

And as for honour among thieves – don’t you believe it!  There’s only too many as would be more than willing to turn me over to the authorities for that paltry two hundred guineas.

a steampunk-shrunk modelSo yes, I’ll admit my way of earning a living might not be honest, in the strictest sense of the word, but it is certainly not easy.  My boys and I are out in all weathers, way above the streets where you land-lubbers lurk, lightening the loads of the airships and other sky-faring vessels up there.  Out in all weathers, we are, procuring booty and capturing ships, captains and passengers for ransom.  There’s always someone willing to pay a handsome price.

Let me tell you (very quickly, now – I don’t want to spend too long in these parts with those posters a-flapping in the wind.  There must still be some I haven’t managed to tear down) about my most notorious crime.  And this one took place on low land!

There I was, keeping myself to myself in a quiet little inn beside the Floating Harbour one evening, when in he walked.  Oh, he didn’t have his fine hat or any of those weapons he’s always bragging about, but I recognised him well enough – Algernon Cholmondeley, the Admiral of the High Skies.  Now it just so happens (don’t think I’m illiterate – there are some highly educated sky pirates around, you know) that I’d read Olivia Libris’ book The Vital Chapter, which told his story, so I primed my weapon and sauntered across to his table, just as he was about to begin his meal.

“That looks a fine bird you’re planning to eat, good Sir,” I says, standing right behind him and pressing the plasma gun very lightly against his back.  “Not peacock, by any chance, is it?”

His lordship started violently at that.  (You’d have to have read the start of the book to understand.)  That was when he realised there was a firearm aimed directly at his heart.

He sighed deeply.  “Montmorency Fairweather, if I’m not mistaken,”  he said.  “So is this your revenge?  You’re going to blow me to the four winds in this pleasant little hostelry?  How very ungentlemanly.”

“Not at all, Sir,” I replied, somewhat affronted that he should expect such coarse behaviour from a refined personage such as myself.  “You are worth far more to me alive than dead.  If you would do me the honour of accompanying me to my vessel, we will do the necessary and prepare  hostage notes for your employers and that lovely wife of yours.”

Rather reluctantly, his Lordship pushed aside the roast pheasant and walked slowly with me from the inn.

We came to know one another quite well, during the time of his confinement on various vessels in my fleet.  He took a keen interest in my ships, often asking the men most specific questions about the steering and engines.

In time, the Admiralty paid up and his Lordship was released quite unharmed, to return to his adoring family.  He shook me by the hand and expressed a wish that we might meet again, but in quite different circumstances.

sky PirateI have to admit, I rather took to the chap.

I certainly find myself substantially better off, thanks to that chance encounter beside Bristol’s fine Floating Harbour.

 

 

 

Monty Fairweather can be purchased – every man has his price – at 12th scale from this link.

Further adventures of Algernon Cholmondeley (now in a private collection) can be found on this blog in the Vital Chapter series of posts and here.

 

 

 

The Time-Traveller’s Companion

Well ‘excited’ is putting it mildly.  Henry and Charles have been leaping around Steampunk Towers all day, slapping each other on the back, chortling, yelling and banging their fists triumphantly on the workbench.

Henry and Charles' first bookI really can’t blame them, though.  First, they sold another of their time machines – and to a university lecturer in the United States who teaches time-travel, no less – and secondly, they have published their first book!

It’s a slender volume, comprising just twelve pages of text, but it constitutes an essential guide for any time-travellers who wish to journey through London’s past and future.

a fascinating readOh, there will be those who purchase the book and then complain that its print is too small to read.  So as is our custom, we will reproduce the text here in its entirety.

However we strongly suggest heading to The Steampunk DollsHouse and downloading a copy for yourself.  Not only is it a delightful little item to own, but if you do so, our little authors here will be quite ecstatic.

 

THE TIME- TRAVELLER’S COMPANION
London Edition
Charles and Henry Fortescue

Preface

Having travelled extensively through time from our workshop in the city of London, we humbly offer this volume to fellow temporal voyagers, in the earnest hope that they may avoid some of the pitfalls and experience some of the delights which we ourselves have encountered. We feel that this will quickly become an indispensable aid for all serious time-travellers.  London 1885

Section One: Dangers

Clearly, one of the most useful services we can render to our readers is to provide warning of times to avoid, when calibrating your time machine.

As all serious time travellers will be aware, your geographical location will not change – only your temporal one.

Consequently, this volume will be invaluable, should you be located in London or its environs.

 

A List of Dates to Avoid

AD 43   Moderate risk. Roman military invasion underway.  Pretty ruthless bunch.

AD 61 Extreme danger. Iceni tribe sacking the city.  Slaughtering everyone they see.

1066 Moderate risk. Unsettled times as Normans take control.

1381 High risk.  Gangs of peasants rampaging.  Some chap called Tyler in charge.  Avoid.

1642-9 High risk. Civil war.

1664-6 High risk.  Plague is rife.  People dropping like flies.

1666 Extreme danger.  London is ablaze.  Do not attempt to stop in early September.

1888 Low risk.  A spate of grizzly murders taking place in the capital.

1915 High risk.  War! Airships and futuristic flying machines dropping fire bombs on London.

1940-41 Extreme danger. London ablaze and virtually destroyed by fire bombs from flying craft.  Do not stop.

 

N.B.

Having seen the devastation of 1941, we have chosen not to travel further into the future, since we feel there is a very real possibility that some dreadful post-apocalyptic times lie ahead and that the world will indeed end in the year AD 2012.

Should any readers dare to venture into those uncertain times – and survive – by all means notify us of your findings upon your return and we will incorporate them in a future edition, with due credit to the authors, obviously.

 

Section Two: Highlights

Whilst it is only prudent to take due care, we wish to emphasise the uplifting and informative experiences that can be gained through judicious time-travelling.

In this section, therefore, we will outline some of the most fascinating and instructional journeys which we ourselves have experienced within the historic and fascinating city of London.

c.600,000 BC: We have found this to be a surprisingly warm and pleasant period in our capital’s history.  The astonished traveller can expect to encounter herds or mammoth, hippopotamus, deer, wild horses and much other wildlife strolling around the banks of the Thames.  A remarkable experience.

c.200 AD:  Should you wish to view London’s origins as a city, this would be an excellent time to stop.  A golden age of prosperity exists as London is being laid out by its Roman leaders.  They appear more mellow in this age.

c.884: The chance to see King Alfred the Great setting London up as his capital should not be missed.  The traveller is warned to avoid any encounters with the warlike Danes, but it is most instructive to see the Roman city being expanded and improved upon by a truly enlightened monarch.

1588 -1600:  It would be foolish, in our humble opinion, not to visit London at the time of the flowering of the world’s most esteemed playwright – William Shakespeare.  One of us was fortunate to watch a performance of Macbeth at a playhouse, with Mr Shakespeare himself taking the role of Duncan.

1838:  Should you be able to calibrate your machine to arrive in London on a specific date, why not attend the coronation of our beloved Queen Victoria on June 28th?  A stunning occasion.

1920-30:  For those requiring a relatively safe journey into the future, the wonders of this era should not be missed.  You will find locomotives running in tunnels beneath London’s streets, astonishing vehicles travelling at great speed on said streets and wonders which we can barely dream of.

Perhaps, in the far future – should the world survive – there will again be halcyon days of great splendour and achievements.  We earnestly hope that this will be the case.

Let us end this slim volume with a short, and by no means exhaustive list of items it would be wise to take with you on any adventures into other times. 

Reading about time travelUseful items for time-travel 

A supply of candles and lucifers.

A tin of dry biscuits.

A hip flask of brandy.

A supply of fine gold chains to exchange for currency.

Spare breeches and hose.

A firearm for self-protection.

This volume!

We wish you safe journeys.

 

 

By George – so pleased to make your acquaintance.

We may have met before, but permit me to introduce myself anew.

Steampunk-Shrunk tinker

I am George Entwistle, tinker and general handyman to the gentry.  Yes, I have resigned from my post as patents clerk and become a full time tinker.  Indeed, I would venture to say that my time machines are very much sought after by ladies and gentlemen of discernment with an adventurous temperament.

I like to consider myself something of an adventurer, too.  Very recently I travelled in a railway carriage to a steampunk spectacular in the delightful town of Shrewsbury.  What an experience it was!

customers at Steampunk-ShrunkThe purveyors of our products were the most splendidly attired persons I had ever encountered.  Even Mrs S, who is quite used to these affairs, was impressed and kept taking photographs of them, a few of which I will reproduce here.

We had scarcely opened before Alice announced that she was changing her name to Olga and heading off to become an opera singer with her new patron.  I think Sir William was sad to see her go, but he soon began to chat in a very friendly manner to Miss Delilah.

Steampunk-ShrunkI confess I was quite delighted when a charming lady and gentleman agreed to purchase my latest time machine.  I often wonder where my customers will end up when they head off on their temporal journeys.

My greated delight, though, came when a distinguished looking gentleman stopped to admire our wares.  There was something familiar about him and I was quite taken by his military bearing and immaculate appearance.  He chatted for a while about our room cases to his good lady, and it was only after he left that Mrs Steampunkle told us it was none other than the great Icabod Steam!

How I regretted not having removed my stained and grubby leather apron or straightening my tie!  I even had the honour to view his trailer at close quarters, although Mrs S wouldn’t permit me to leave the stall to watch one of his performances.  I noticed that she was mysteriously absent at that time, however…

Upon our return to Steampunk Towers (and mainly, I suspect, to quieten the complaints about the journey from Lady Christabel) Mrs Steampunkle announced that some of us would be heading to a new residence.  I was fortunate enough to be chosen, along with Lady Christabel, Sir William and the lovely Miss Delilah, to inhabit a glass display cabinet at a quite charming Emporium in the Somerset town of Street.  We have five of my friend Mr Robottom’s robots with us, as well as several cabinets of curiosities and the Looking Glass rooms Mrs Steampunkle quite recently completed.

It feels quite strange to be away from Steampunk Towers, but our creator visits us regularly and has promised to pop in and check that we are all happy in our new surroundings.

Do come along to pass the time of day, should you be in the vicinity.

 

 

Alice Alone – Almost

There were only four of us at the start of the latest Steampunk Convention, unless you count the two ladies engaged in the tea duel, who speak to no one, but fix each other with steely stares over their cow biscuits and cups of tea, or the Samurai warrior who stands transfixed in some Zen-like meditative state.  Just four – myself and the three gentlemen.

I am Alice.  I was Mrs S’s first ever makeover.  I permit myself to believe that I will always hold a special place in her heart for that reason alone.  Then there was Bertie, the military gent who made maps of uncharted lands for the Ordnance Survey, Lars, the mysterious inventor who never removed those dark glasses and William, the rather aloof and dapper man with the dart-launcher chained to his arm.

We stood in a casual group on the stall, all secretly wishing that a new owner would arrive and transport us to a permanent home, ending our nomadic existence.

Bertie was the first to leave.  Just imagine his delight when he discovered that his new guardian was to be the very same lady who had, on a previous occasion, purchased Leonora.  A match made in heaven, we all agreed.  We could imagine those two intrepid explorers heading off to discover new lands and treasures together.  How could we be anything but delighted?

Lars was the next to depart.  His new guardian was also a returning customer.  The young man had bought that very worrying time machine with the flashing lights.  I was glad to see that go.  It made me nervous.  Now here he was again, eyeing each of us intently and trying to decide which of us would be the machine’s inventor.  Well clearly it had to be Lars.  William would never get his hands grubby with oil or grease and – well – do I look like the kind of person who would go galivanting around in a time machine?  Obviously not.

So by the end of the day, only William and I remained.
“Just you and myself, then Madam, it would seem,” he said, in a slightly strained voice.
“Indeed,” I replied, permitting myself to look into his eyes and notice that there was a certain softness in his expression which I hadn’t noticed before.

“Charming about Bertie and Leonora,” he said.
“It is,” I agreed, and found myself wondering, fleetingly, how it would feel to end up in the same home as William. Not too disagreeable, I felt.

“I never really got to know Lars,” I told him.
“Hmmph,” he snorted. “Very odd chap. Brilliant inventor, of course, but not – you know – someone I warmed to.  We had, er, business dealings, but that was all.”

I nodded. I’d never before thought of William warming to anyone.  But who can say?

The Building of The Aronnax – Many Leagues Under the Sea

Not twenty thousand.  I can’t yet lay claim to that.  Yet who can say?  One day, perhaps.

To build a vessel capable of travelling underwater and exploring the depth of the seas has been an ambition of mine since my youth.  In those days, I was fortunate enough to sit at the table of the great Dr Pierre Aronnax himself, while he regaled us with tales of his voyage on the Nautilus, with the strange and troubled Captain Nemo.

How I loved his stories.  How I longed to follow in his footsteps – or in his wake, perhaps.  That I, Maurice Souslesmers, should be able to travel in this way was but a distant dream, until I joined forces with Mrs S, upcycler and creator of weird and wonderful 1:12 scale creations.

“So you want something like The Nautilus?” she asked.  “Sounds an interesting challenge.  Trouble is, I’m flat broke, so the budget for this project is zero.  Everything will have to come from my junk stash.  Agreed?”

What choice did I have?  We explored the pile of objects together:  a cardboard case, a clear plastic lid from a packaging box, some corrugated foil card from a children’s craft set, a finger light left over from last Hallowe’en, a brass radiator key, a small brass bell and whistle, a broken dolls house dressing table, some bits of polymer clay, a blue plastic bag, an empty shower gel bottle, a few watch parts and a jar of nail art gems.

“That should do nicely,”  she said.

I was less than convinced.

Nevertheless, she set to work with coloured nail polish, a dizzying array of adhesives and some very messy burnishing paste.

“See this broken watch part – how it swivels?” she asked excitedly.  “That will make a turntable for your searchlight.  You need to be able to scan around the ocean, looking for creatures, don’t you?”

Before my eyes, the plastic (a strange and rather ugly synthetic substance alien to my era) finger light became a leather and copper-clad lamp on a turning steel base.

I stacked oxygen tanks in the navigation deck’s storage compartments and set about burnishing the huge boiler.

Mrs S found a way to mount the periscope, which had somehow stopped looking so much like a radiator key,  and we tested the construction so far.

True, our vessel lacked the opulence of The Nautilus as described by Aronnax – the library and study, the leather armchairs and so forth.  Nevertheless,  I saw that I would finally be able to make my own voyage of discovery, and I was delighted.

 

Eagerly, I named my craft after my great hero, and The Aronnax began its journey.

You will see that I am keeping a careful ship’s log and making sketches of the mysterious creatures of the deep I am encountering on my journey.  As for those apparently man-made arches and columns I have encountered in the murky depths…  Might I, like my predecessors have stumbled upon the famed ruins of Atlantis?

The Case of The Aronnax is now for sale at The SteampunkDollsHouse on Etsy.