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Monthly Archives: June 2008
“Lighthouse” Animation from ProMotion Studios

Filed under Computer Graphics, Found on the Web

"Lighthouse" CG animationAs part of Liberty Mutual’s “Responsibility Project” for short films, ProMotion Studios produced this beautiful short animation called “Lighthouse”. Very nice work – a good story, technically excellent, and with several very nicely observed character actions.

You can see it in low resolution here (Flash player), in high resolution here (Quicktime), and you may also want to visit the Responsibility Project site or ProMotion.

In Progress – an airship of the retro future

Filed under Computer Graphics, Works in Progress

Airship of the Retro Future

Here’s a test rendering of the 3D model I’ve been working on – it’s the Airship Vindoclavian, a lighter than air dirigible that incorporates some steering propellers from an old Modern Mechanix & Inventions cover and an exoskeletal frame that’s unlike any that were ever used in zeppelins (German zeppelins used internal, four-spoked frames, while the US Navy’s dirigibles used a similar, but three-spoked frame that the German engineers disapproved of*).

That frame and another aspect of the design are really intended just to make the nature of the ship more apparent… so I have to figure out what crazy notions led to those changes. Because I’m not a rocket scientist, of course – just a rocket artist.

*given the relative failure rates of the US and German dirigibles, the Germans seem to have had a point there.

[tags]zeppelin, dirigible, retro future, retro futuristic, airship, dieselpunk, sci fi, science fiction, 3d, 3ds max, computer graphics[/tags]
Thrilling Tales: The Toaster With TWO BRAINS

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Toaster with TWO BRAINS pulp illustration

Here’s a retro science fiction pulp magazine cover for a magazine that doesn’t exist, but probably ought to: THRILLING TALES OF THE DOWNRIGHT UNUSUAL.

In this imaginary issue we have that nail-biting page turner “The Toaster with TWO BRAINS”, in which our heroes delve deep into the hostile lair of Doctor Rognvald, beneath the volcanoes of Iceland – only to discover that this evil genius has created the ultimate malevolent kitchen appliance: the Toaster with TWO BRAINS! Is it unstoppable? Immovable? Relentless? Horrifying? Unkillable? You bet it is.

Because a toaster with one brain isn’t terrifying. But two? Talk about the heebie-jeebies!

If I were able to explain this…. I wouldn’t. You can wonder all you like about infant toaster traumas. I’m not talking. Except to observe, as is my habit, that I cooked this thing up to serve fresh to you, dear reader, as an archival print, a poster, stylish t-shirt, greeting card, and coffee mug – just the thing for that apocalyptic breakfast that the toaster has in mind for us all.

Behold the Omniscient Overlord of the Future

Filed under Found on the Web, Works in Progress

Young Mad Scientist

Flickr user jbj has posted this inspiring photo of a young mad scientist who – in a praiseworthy show of social conscience – is warning anyone within reading distance that he’s about to throw that Really Big Switch on his Trans-Dimensional Vaporizing Fireplace Annihilator. Well done!

I’m pleased to see my Back Off – I’m Doing SCIENCE shirt used in this responsible way.

Rocket Man Take-Out: Vroom, Plus Va-Voom

Filed under Found on the Web

Vintage sci fi magazine cover

One out of a collection of scans from the covers of science fiction magazines, at the Whitechapel forums. It bothers me just a little bit that I might have read a few of these when they were new, since they span at least two decades .

Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Retropolis & Me

Filed under Can't Stop Thinking

T-Shirts for the World of TomorrowMy recent banner ads have worked absolute wonders for me – especially the ones for the Retropolis Transit Authority, my retro-futuristic T-Shirt site.

On a good day, or in a good week, I can watch the traffic there snowball into a regular avalanche as those folks who’ve found me through the banners post about it in forums, at their blogs, and so on. Some of those sites are very popular – or a popular blogger may find one of those first generation posts, and it can build from there. Well. Sometimes. It’s not like that’s every day, or every week. But here are some highlights:

io9 Blog | Boing Boing Gadgets | AMCTV’s Sci Fi Scanner | Schlock Mercenary | Pharyngula | Livejournal’s Anachrotech Group | Steampunk Librarian

One thing that’s surprised me about some of my recent linkage, though, is the number of people who’ve described my work as Steampunk. Because although I’m not one to snap on my brass goggles and to holster my Aetheric Odds Equalizer before I go out, I’m pretty well aware that Steampunk is all about the retro future of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, which means it’s not really what I do. Mind you, I like the style well enough, and I have a couple of things in the Idea Closet that would certainly be steamy, but they’re digressions, for me. My Future That Never Was is really all about the 1920s and 1930s and our ideas, back then, of what Tomorrow might bring.

The inestimable Molly Porkshanks has brought another word to my attention – dieselpunk. Now that, with its allusion to early twentieth century technology, sounds nearer the mark; but even there it’s much more evocative of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow than it is of what I’m up to. My rockets and robots aren’t diesel powered and my retro future isn’t, either.

And, frankly, although I was all over the genre of “Cyberpunk” as soon as Neuromancer hit the shelves, the subsequent *punks have sort of made my eyes glaze over. There’s clockpunk, for example, and biopunk, dieselpunk, and even – I guess predictably – postcyberpunk.

There’s not a lot of punk in any of them, of course. The “punk” suffix has lost its meaning. At one game company where I worked, the owners’ pet project was a supposedly cyberpunk game in which they’d forgotten to put the punk in. It wasn’t anything more than a sort of direct-to-video science fiction idea. The word had lost its meaning.

Retropolis MonorailSo the names, styles, and labels aren’t really my own cup of tea. I’m always pleased when people like what I do and with a name like mine, you’ll understand that I long ago decided not to bother very much about names and their derivatives. So if people who like steampunk or dieselpunk also like what I do, I’m thrilled; and even if they attach a favorite label – rightly or wrongly – to it, I don’t suppose I mind very much, even if I’m not quite sure why they do it, and even though I suspect that they’re watering down their own terminology when they do it. So what the heck; I’m even using dieselpunk, at least, in tags on my web sites.

Now on the other hand, I’ve recently been reading Patrick O’Brian’s excellent seafaring novels about the Napoleonic period and I have this idea that something along those lines with sky pirates and fleets of airships would just be the bee’s knees. So, somebody, go write them! Odds are they’ll be something like Steampunk, or maybe Sailpunk. And I’ll certainly read them, even though what I’m up to is something else.

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