andygates: (Default)
I'd heard that Tornado, the lovely new Peppercorn Class A1 steam loco, was going to be passing the South Devon coast today.  I'm no train-spotter, but thundering steam and pretty cliffs is a photo opportunity if ever there was one.  A plan was hatched: paddle out to a scenic spot, lay in wait and get a killer picture.

First, I'd need a sea anchor.  Kayaks drift in the wind, and inflatables doubly so: I need a parking brake.  A small Ikea bag was quickly repurposed: some coat-hanger to stiffen the mouth open, and many staples to hold it in place and discipline the handles.  Add a grotty old carabiner and Bob's your uncle: just clip to the anchor line (which is in the anchor trolley).  The sea anchor, it must be said, was great.  You could fish with this, easily.  I could certainly put the paddle aside and concentrate on the photography with both hands and full attention.  The boat went deliciously stable, and drift was right down under 10m / minute (tested with the GPS anchor-drag alert).  To work as a drogue I'll want to put a fist-sized hole in the base, to allow a smoother flow-through.  Still, pretty damn fine for free.

So there I was, watching the world go by, and very mellow it was.  The allotted time approached.  The light was awful: hard reflection off the water and the cliffs in shadow - should have guessed that.  Still, a thundering steam locomotive: that's teh awesum.  I can fix the rest in post.

Only the train never came.  I got excited over more bloody Virgin CrossCountry trains and more two-car local runabouts than is reasonable.  Eventually I had to pack up.  And it turns out all the train photos were rubbish anyway (though I did get a nice one of a tour boat, a poopy buoy and another mandatory cockpit shot).  A lovely calm, mellow little paddle even without the star of the show.

(title hat tip to Andy Horton, who may well have found a tornado today)
andygates: (Default)
That's how much boiling the boiler in the new British land-speed steam car can produce.  It's just passed tests and hopes to go to Bonneville next year and crush the long-standing speed record set by a Stanley Steamer back in the twenties.  The thing has twelve microboilers, gets through a ton of water in twenty-five minutes, and is aiming for 170mph.

How British is it?  They held a raffle to raise funds for the carbon-fibre nosecone. 

Twenty-three cups of tea a second.  It's a jet steam-propelled NAAFI fnordgasm!

And it's in British Racing Green.

andygates: (hellboy)
Yup, it's Steampunk Starwars.  Does it work?  I'm not so sure, but a clockwork Vader makes me smile.
andygates: (15t cog)
More steamly goodness in the form of a CG short animation in which a pair of fine Mentlemen duel for the ample affections of a Lady, only they use hoaching great steam 'mechs.  Trailer here
andygates: (Default)
Fearless Griggs by Any Helms, coloured by meThanks to Brass Goggles for pointing out the awesomeness that is Fearless Griggs.  Tall-tale steam-age arse-kicking silliness that's just as drunk on LXG as it is stoned on Tank Girl.  No, really, it's that good.  And that's just the downloadable taster.  Get it, unzip it, say "dude" too much.

Steam

Sep. 25th, 2006 09:35 am
andygates: (Default)
It's Steampunk Monday so here's a couple of lovelies that I found while hunting for visuals (other than the ubiquitous Steamboy) for a steampunk monowheel SL project.  First, a load of steam-powered bicycles from the basement-engineering magazine Make.  Some beauties in that lot.  And from a less engineering, more style angle ([personal profile] arabis take note) behold the blogly goodness that is Brass Goggles.  Mmm, lovely.  I'll be coming back to this one...
andygates: (Default)
Got hold of Steamboy the other day. It's anime steampunk, which is enough of a hook to make me part with my cash. Alas... alas.

Before I get into the specifics, here's the deal with steam. It's a "woo, cool" thing, that's all. Romanticism for engineers. On its own, that's nothing. Zeppelins, steam-enhanced cyborgs, clockwork computers - they're just fancy tat unless you do something with them.

Steamboy, alas, does nothing with them. The story is flat and obvious: the perils of Ultimate Power in a barely-veiled atomic analogy. Give the power to a young boy and let him decide between faceless corporate evil and smiley good, season with some cynicism and dress with the obligatory anime squeaky brat girl and family tension.

It's been done before. It's been done better. The characterisation was disappointing and two-dimensional, and development arcs were both obvious and jerkily done, as if this was a cut-up of a longer, more polished arc. And of course in the end it goes huge and city-flattening in a very, very anime way.

What Steamboy does have is gorgeous visuals. If you have a hardon for sci-fi steam - if, like me, you can sit through Wild Wild West - you'll love the inventiveness. The monowheel, the grab-zeppelin, yummy. The steam tanks piloted by crews in uniforms right out of Zulu. The huge flywheels in the Steam Castle. Mmm, huge flywheels.

But frankly, that's not enough.

On the other hand China Miéville, who knows that we need a hook and so gives us trilobites in paragraph two, takes those ideas and runs with them. Steamborgs? Those poor bastards need fuel, all day, every day. Machines need feeding and the feeders are people with jobs and needs and kinks and politics. Okay, his power-to-weight ratios are as screwed as every other steam-fantasist, and he tends to melancholy, and he can't end a story satisfactorily, but he plays with the ideas and teases them out and sees what sort of place you get with them. They're shiny wallpaper too - but more than that.

So, only shell out for Steamboy if your hardon for clankity-clank is harder than mine.

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