Came across this crazily laden bicycle chained up outside the library.
It appears to be sporting a desk fan as a propeller, a scanner, a blade server on the back pannier rack, a spare wheel, and various smaller gizmos and plastic bags stuffed in the basket.
Who drives this insane velocipede? An out if work peripatetic network engineer? Someone who scans on the move? An alien in disguise who gets so hot in our climate they need a fan on a bicycle even in winter?
Or is the fan a propeller, designed to increase the speed of a bike, driven by the power from a scanner converted into a solar panel?
It looks as though whatever the case, it will be tricky to handle.
Now that my hometown has a Steampunk society, it made me wonder what such an enterprise should devote itself to doing. There are, I’d say, some pretty talented folk amongst even our small number – with work featured in magazines no less! – and it always makes me feel we should devote some of our time to practical purposes as well as ale quaffing and tea drinking be-monocled revels.
I talked in an earlier post about rocketry, and my fascination with it despite the fact that any attempt to launch my own such vehicle would swiftly lead to limb amputation and third degree burns. Besides, rocketry is not really a Victorian past-time, if one wishes to be dogmatic about things.
Some of us have interests in astronomy, and certainly I think there is outreach work that can be done here, meteor showers being an obvious example, in the same way that American folk do “sidewalk astronomy”. Birdwatching and other natural activity too is entriely in keeping, but hardly makes much of a spectacle.
Flight it is then! Some major developments in flight took place in the Victorian era, to start with, George Cayley and his slightly alarming sounding “Boy Lifter”. This actually flew in 1849, and as a vehicle, it certainly has the the right “feel”, wouldn’t you agree.
Later on there was Lilienthal and his primitive, and rather risky looking, hang-gliders that first took flight in 1891.
Certainly it was very risky to Lilienthal, who died in 1896 when his glider stalled and pitched him into the ground from about 50 feet up. “Sacrifices must be made” were his reported last words.
Obviously I don’t want anyone to have their neck’s broken, so we shan’t be building our own hang-gliders. I love little wooden gliders, always did as a child, launching them skywards on the street, watching them dance in the wind with delight in my heart before the inevitability of death by tree. Even further back, my father bought me a rubber band powered aeroplane, that we took to some hill somewhere when I was three or four, and proceeded to not let me fly. It was bright red, and to a young mind, seemed to fly forever.
I have no idea what became of it. But certainly, I never launched it. Which makes the idea of playing with something like this, while realising I don’t have a thousandth of the ability required to build it, an exciting one.
Is it not magnificent?
The bell rang, the air rattled slightly, and Lady Alexia Laplace sighed, put her tea cup down, and left her consulation of “The London Chronicle of Science” for another time.
The master called from across the sea.
Carina was inspecting some jewellery with an eyeglass, black hair gathered out of the way in a bonnet.
“How’s the world of high crime?” asked Alexia as she swept by.
“Alexia Laplace, how dare you besmirch my name so! This is an investigation, and these were paid for, not…er…re-appropriated. Mr Brown was tipped off that the jewellers in the Oxford Street Arcadia was as bent as the proverbial. The tip off was in the right of it, these are paste.”
She held up a string of emeralds to the light, dangling them on their silver chain, before slamming her hand shut contemptuously and slapping them down on the table. The moon-a-muck had raised its head in anticpitation at the sight of the glittering crystals, but on realisation that they were evidence rather than lunch, sank back onto its cushion in disappointment.
“Come on, let’s see what his nibs has brought back with him this time” suggested Alexia.
They entered the transportation room, and the conduction pole for the Poincare Machine was already humming, and beginning to crackle with a violet glow. Alexia ascended the dias, and threw the great layer.
Lightning flashed down from the roof, and acrid ozone odour filled the room. Pale blue and violet radiation played about, and then, with a flash the Poicare machine appeared,a giant silver atom in the molecule of madness.
Carina was used to this by now, but still she jumped and she caught her chest with her hand.
The outder door opened, the rails fell outwards and inner sphere of the machine presented itself with the groove of metal on metal. Shortly, Aristophanes Brown jumped out with a solitary bottle showing dark against his outfit of tweed.
“I’m fairly sure I win the Beaujolais race!”
“Pity you can’t tell anyone,” said Alexia in a sandpaper tone. “All this energy expended on a single bottle of wine.”
“I investigated the sightings of Le terreur de la singe!”
“Let that writer do that, he was there first. You were just getting in the way.”
“I caught the Ant Man.”
Alexia nodded in the direction of the moon-a-muck. “You had help.”
There was a pause. “Harrumph. No Beaulolais for you. I shall share it with Carina.”
Carina was indignant. “I want more than just over-rated fresh trodden plonk after sorting out your gem flogging shyster!”
“Oh! Well done! Well, I’m sure we can find something better.” flapped Aristophanes Brown as he stepped down onto the floor.
“Indeed” stated Carina, looking up. “Like rainwater perhaps?”
Aristophanes and Carina turned, comedically slowly, to see a thick, grey nimbus cloud rolling out of the Poincare cube, and collecting at the ceiling of the transportation room. As they watched rain was falling from the cloud, but rather than flood the floor, it seemed to dry almost immediately.
“Not-a-bloody-gain” moaned Brown. I thought our new calculations would ease this flotsam problem.
“You must admit, since my alterations, we have had less of these problems” stated Alexia firmly, crossing her hands over her khaki shirt.
As she spoke, there was a wetly slapping sound. Brown’s eyes rolled as the three of them looked down to see fish of perhaps eight inches in length wriggling on the floorboards.
“You were saying?”
Alexia ambled over. “Look like whiting. By heavens, a drop of Forteana!”
A fish clouted Carina across the shoulder. “Ow! Some drop!”
Attracted by the commotion, the moon-a-muck waddled into the room, and eyed up a fish that had bounced over in its direction. It sucked the piscid into its trumpet, then spat it out again in disgust with a “Hooo-HEEEEE” snort of disgust.
Around 50 fish had fallen from the cloud, and the upper halves of the three humans were soaked by the time Alexia had ascended the podium to reset the machine. As she threw the lever on and off (“in the future we won’t have to do this,” stated Brown firmly) the rain of fish and water stopped, and Carina ran around gathering up the fish. “Do you think we can sell them to a restaurant?” she was asking.
“I need a couple frozen for research purposes” instructed Alexia Laplace.
Aristophanes sat on his haunches, pulling the cork from the wine. It failed to do so with no pop, leaving half of the cork in the bottle neck.
“Damn french guff. Stick to gin.”
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 10.01.15
Written over 90 minutes, a day of day dreaming, a day of listening to the wind and wishing I could watch the angry sea.
I love this indeed, a sort of psychedelic art nouveau futureworld…
Have you heard of Solarpunk? It’s a futuristic subculture that looks forwards to a bright, shiny world. But where most future time-lines rely on technology and invention to bring humanity out of this pit of misery and murder, Solarpunk looks at people changing themselves and working with technology towards a better future. Essentially making the world a better place from the inside out.
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I must admit I’m finding the idea of amateur rocketry more and more interesting the last few days. I’ve been captivated with youtube films of amateur rockets being launched virtually into space true, but also with paper rockets being launched with air rams, or ambitious two stage giant bottle rockets being fired to 800 feet in the air!
We are soon to launch a “steampunk” society in my home town, and in addition to descending on the local Masonic lodge en-masse, I’d love us to take an interest in rocketry and have an actual retro scientific project to work on.
Given our urban environment, and lack of technical expertise, aside from one hypothetical member who is an ace modeller, I suspect paper rocketry might be the way forward. I can easily envisage demonstrations of perhaps punked up air and bottle rockets going down well at the 2015 or 2016 Lincoln Asylum.
I’d really like to start flying some rubber band powered aircraft too. I love simple retro-tech stuff. All I have to is overcome my chronic clumsiness and technical incompetence!