Steampunk Inventors

I’ve read too many stories lately about steampunk inventors that have no life, social or otherwise, are independently wealthy, and live in a vacuum (or on an island in the middle of the ocean).

An inventor does not have the time to mine, smelt, cast and then form his own copper wire for his high speed telegraph invention or forge the steel plate for his improved hyper-pressure steam boiler invention. There were people that made the wire and steel and other things and tools for a living. If he did make his own wire he would probably end up in the wire making business and all his inventions would be about making wire, better and faster.

Inventors like writers need day jobs. Thomas Edison has a series of day jobs till he started earning enough from some telegraph patents that he could establish his own lab and do nothing but invent.

Inventors did not work in the dark. The Wright brothers, when they decided to build an airplane they ordered every book they could on the subject. That included tables of information from Lilienthal. After a glider they built did not have the lift the tables said it should, the Wright brothers did some experiments and found that the century old value for the Smeaton coefficient was to high. This was one of the major advances made by the Wright brother. They built interments and did experiments, they challenged the excepted theories. Using a new value they determined from their experiments including the use of a home built wind tunnel they designed a new wing that worked better. Others had figured out that the value was wrong, but you had to look closely at their data to figure it out. Even back then, inventors wrote up their results and talked to each other.

The Wright brothers were not wealthy. They owned and ran a bicycle shop. They hand built bicycles. Sometimes out of wood. Would your steam punk inventor stoop to using wood to build one of his creations? The Wright brothers earned an income, were part of the community. They were secretive, worried someone would steal their inventions, but they were not hermits.

So come with me and strike a blow to the cliché of the hermit inventors with the magical supply of raw and processed materials and inexhaustible supply of spare parts. Take a look at real inventors and make your inventor a part, a participant of your steampunk society.

Stay strong, write on, and give your characters a life.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Year full of Mondays

On new year’s day there was a comic that said that it was the first of 52 Mondays. Something set off an alarm in the back of my mind. I went to the calendar and counted. Yes, there are 53 Mondays this year.

The good news is that two of those Mondays are holidays, the first Monday is New Years Day and the last Monday is New Years Eve, so there are only 50 working Mondays this year.

So cheer up.

Now if your retired and self employed every day is a Monday.

Stay strong, write on, is it Friday yet? Professor Hyram Voltage.

Happy New Year Steampunk Writers

Happy New Year.
It’s 60 degrees outside and there is rain in the forecast.
Why would I be happy about rain? Well, it doesn’t get cold enough, well very often, to freeze the rain, and we haven’t have a good rain yet and the rainy season is half over.
Without serious amounts of rain we will be back in drought conditions soon.

What does this have to do about Steampunk writing? Well, I can not read a monthly science fiction magazine without running into an end-of-the-world ecological based story.

Where’s the Steampunk story about a London with an unusually warm winter. With the water level in the river Thames lower than it has every been. Ships are having trouble navigating the river. With shifting sand bars that have never given trouble and are now grounding ships. The water in the Thames is getting too salty to drink from seawater intrusion.

In this world there are newspaper articles about autonomous coal mining machines that work 24 hours a day and are causing the price of coal to drop. Inventors are churning out steam/coal powered labor saving device after device that are that are out striping the newly enlarged supply of coal.

There is unrest with many miners and others out of work, replaced by the autonomous machines.

A minor, little known inventor says using all the coal is causing the problems with the weather and the river level, and it’s the use of coal that causing the problem not the autonomous machines. But he gets in trouble when he says that they will have to stop using the autonomous machines. The inventor disappears. Did the mine owners do him in? Did foreign agents from countries that need the coal do him in? Did the makers of the autonomous machines do him in?

I got the makings of a good mystery here.

Stay strong, write on. Guess who done it.

Professor Hyram Voltage.

Happy Year End Day

In a Gray Lensman story by E. E. “Doc” Smith the main characters attend a Year End Day celebration. I like the idea. The idea of celebrating the good things of the past year.

We seem to focus on the bad things in life. We should also recognize and celebrate the good things too. I do not mean to ignore the passing of friends and family. I have lost both this year. But I have gained new friends this year. New friends will not replace the memory of friends lost, but they will open the future to a world of new memories.

There were adventures this year. I went to see the eclipse in Oregon. While doing that I got to see a lot of Oregon I normally would never have seen and met people I would have never met other wise. I went to conventions and saw things most people will never get to see. A fire that happened months after one convention destroyed some art work that was prominently displayed there.

Nothing will replace my friends home that was destroyed by the big fire in California. But my friend is alive and is rebuilding. It won’t be the same, but I’m sure it will be better. It will take time and it will be sad.

From my friends sad experience of not knowing what he had, the small things, the things he used every day, so he could claim them on his insurance forms I am doing a photo inventory of by belonging. It’s a lot of work, I got a lot of stuff. It’s also a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find in the back of a drawer or closet. I’m also getting rid of stuff I forgot I had. It’s a time of memories and sadness as I go through some of the old stuff. It’s also a time of renewal and of planning to do better. And it’s a time of sitting back and thinking about what I’ve accomplished this year and past years. Many of those things no one will ever get to do again. Hey, I survived Y2K. That’s not going to happen again.

So here’s to a good year, past. Some people thought the country would fall apart. This old country got its problems, but it is a long way from coming apart. Some people thought the world was going to end, over and over again they changed the date. They’ve been saying that the end of the world is coming for over 3000 years.

I got the back yard looking better than its looked in years. Not that I don’t still have a lot too do in the back yard. I have a new access door into the garage so when the main door fails to open again I won’t have to call in specialist to get into the garage. I have helped friends, it made me feel good to help. I still have a lot of cleaning and reorganizing to do, but that’s for next year, but then that’s tomorrow.

I got plans for next year. World con (science fiction convention), conventions in San Diego, Kansas, who knows where else. I completed plans I had for 2017. I didn’t get all the plans completed, but I made progress.

Intermingled with the sadness of last year I had fun, I did things.

May you remember and celebrate the good things of last year. May you pause and reflect on the sadness of last year. And may your new year be prosperous, bountiful and joyous.

Happy Year End Day.

Stay strong, write on. Happy New Year. Professor Hyram Voltage

And I say this after spending all new years eve morning and most of the day in the emergency room of the hospital.