Steampunk in the Southern Hemisphere
By Philippa Ballantine
As part of the expansion of steampunk, it is lovely to see it evolving in all corners of the world—not merely London. Victorian society may leap to mind when you say steampunk, but as my co-writer Tee Morris and I have said on panels at conventions, the Victorian age happened everywhere, not just London.
I, being born and bred in New Zealand, have a particular interest in New Zealand steampunk, and I like to think I’ve done a little bit to help bring that to light, with the book I co-wrote with Tee, Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novel.
You see, Eliza D Braun of the Ministry of the Peculiar Occurrences is New Zealand’s first steampunk heroine in a major publishing house. She’s smart but rash, brave but impulsive, and she loves to blow things up. The class structures that her partner Wellington Thornhill Books, lives with, do not weigh as heavy on her—and this causes all sorts of chaos for her in London society. Basically she is the punk in our steampunk world.
I drew heavily from my own home and heritage to construct her, and had a lot of fun doing it. However there are others still in New Zealand enjoying steampunk and making it their own too.
based on its history and its heritage attractions.
Then steampunk came along. Or rather the League of Victorian Imagineers came along.
Now Oamaru is the most active steampunk town in New Zealand. They have swap meets, an annual fashion show, and an exhibition of steampunk art. It’s become a haven for those that love gears and steam, and sharing a good time.
Dr Grordbort and his infallible aether oscillators have bought science and violence to New Zealand. Greg Broadmore, the creative genius behind the good (or bad) doctor, is a worker at Weta Workshop (the folks that made the Lord of the Rings such a visual feast). He was given the chance to develop these images of ray guns he’d been working on, and magic was born. Now Greg’s creations are touring the world on show, been made into ray gun replicas which folks spend thousands of dollars to own, and also published as a series of amusing books.
Feeling the rising interest in steampunk, the Museum of Transport and Technology decided to dip their toe into the Victorian stew. They recently contacted me about being involved in their steampunk day. Unfortunately I was in the States, but the day did go ahead without me and was a rousing success. Those in steampunk finery got free admission to the Museum, and the turnout was good enough to form a parade. A fine time was had by all, and it was a great excuse for the Museum to fire up its steam engines. Check out the photographs to give you some idea of the fun that was had.
They are currently looking for crew- who knows you might very well want to join!
It seems that New Zealanders are enjoying steampunk as much as the rest of the world is, but like every branch of the former Empire, we are adding our own little twists to it. I can’t wait to see what the Land of the Long White Cloud does next in the genre—I am sure it will be both creative and inventive.
Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is a fantasy writer hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of the Books of the Order series with Ace Books, the second novel of which Spectyr has just been released.
She is also the co-author with Tee Morris of Phoenix Rising: a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrence novel out now with Harper Voyager.
Find out more at booksoftheorder.com ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com and pjballantine.com
Philippa, I'm so happy to have you on the blog! *squee!*
I love the post and have been curious as to how others on the other end of the world have fun with steampunk!
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