Sunday, January 15, 2012

How to Draw or Write About Steampunk Gizmos

From "The Steam House" by Jules Verne

You've got your steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, and cattle punk. How about photovoltaic punk or solar punk? That is, a story set in olden times (say, Victorian 1837-1901) or the old west (about 1849-1920ish), which are basically within the same time period, but solar energy running everything from gold mining equipment to horseless carriages. Hmm, maybe, maybe not.

The photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839. In 1883 the first solar cell was built. Check out the Wiki article for the history of the solar cell.

I'm playing around with solar power in my time-spliced fantasy, Twelve Keys. I've got clockwork guns, steam powered engines, but a few solar powered things make sense in the world I'm building. Just can't figure how they will make photovoltaic cells without silicon. Maybe gold-coated selenium? I think I need more research.

Whether you're writing about a steam powered society or a solar powered society, it's helpful to know something about that technology. Sure, you may be writing fantasy, but that doesn't mean your air pirates' flying machine can't be believable. I've blogged before about my passion for steam power, particularly steambikes. Here are two posts you might find helpful.

Now I'd like to share this article I found. How to DrawSteampunk Machines. This artist actually builds steam powered gizmos, so he knows how they work and how to design convincing pictures of them. For us writers, it's a convenient explanation of how steam power works. We are designing with words instead of drawings, but what he has to say and show you is a marvelously help. It's nearly a tutorial on how to write steampunk- at least the gadget portion.


Kara Hartz said...

I don't want to accidentally give any spoilers to the new novel, but do they have to make solar cells? Could it be something found? Possibly not, but there are stranger things in that world than left over solar panels.
You always make me feel like I don't do enough research. Stop overachieving!

Amanda Borenstadt said...

LOL I way over-research! I did more research after writing this post and I came to the same conclusion- they'll have to find something to use as solar cells. I'm like Duh! I have a world of fantastic creatures at my disposal. What if something had scales that serve the same purpose!!! :D

lbdiamond said...

What a neat genre! Good luck with your story!

Joylene said...

Writers ask me how I could ever think to write about wars like Vietnam or Iraq, and I say "It's much easier than period pieces." My hat's off to you, Amanda, because I know what you're attempting to do takes massive hard work, research, and intense rewriting. I'm not sure I have what it takes, but I'm so impressed with the ability of others. Kudos.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Thanks Laura! Thanks Joylene! :)

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