All posts tagged steampunk

Book Review: Family Ties and Gothic Horror in The Only Child

Published June 19, 2017 by vfdpixie

The Only Child by Andrew Pyper (Simon & Schuster, 2017)


Canadian horror author Andrew Pyper has his finger on the pulse of the family. His previous works cover a father looking for his child in the best-selling The Demonologist to a twin haunted by his sister in The Damned, and now, another family dynamic in The Only Child. With his dark approach to family and psychology, he brings us to world where literature, personal demons and reality collide.

Lily Dominick is a forensic psychiatrist who is brilliant at what she does because it’s all she does. Throwing herself into her work with the criminally insane, she is driven and stoic-the result of a tragic family and personal history. Her usual day at the forensic psychiatric center is changed when she is alerted to a patient who has committed a violent crime and awaits her assessment. This patient, known only as client 46874-A, reveals to her that not only did he know her dead mother, but he is also her father. This is alarming to Lily since her mother fell to a violent death, the details of which escaped her for years as well as no memory of her absent father. When this strange patient escapes and starts to pick off people in Lily’s life, she embarks on a global journey where she finds out more about this mysterious man we come to know as Michael and his outrageous claims to be the inspiration for classic horror writers and their creations. Compelled by this menace she tries to stay ahead of his terrifying abilities while seeking the truth about his connection to her, and stop his mad killing spree.

Pyper has created an interesting mythology with the character of Michael. He is a combination of Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula, with a demonic element that overrides the romantic aspect of these tortured monsters. It’s certainly a different approach to appreciating the classics. He reminded me of the HBO series Penny Dreadful, but with a modern twist, especially with the steam punk inspired accoutrements that Michael uses to drain his prey of blood. He’s a character you at times sympathize with as he recounts battles with his evil nature, but his ultimate arrogance becomes his worst burden. Snippets of his journals are fascinating and I had hopes that his back story would play more center stage, but that was left to our main character, Lily.

Lily’s is independent and strong which I enjoyed about her, but she was also my least favourite of Pyper’s characters. Her judgement was questionable and her sexual impulses were at times unwarranted and hollow in most situations, especially as she envisaged having sex with almost all the men she met, including Michael. This was a little surprising as Pyper’s female characters have been more well-rounded in the past. I’m not sure if it was his intention to show Michael’s supernatural power over her, or some sort of sexual dysfunction, or to show her sexual freedom as a modern woman, but I can’t imagine sexual encounters would be on the mind of a woman running for her life. He did however, succeed with her emotional turmoil, her memories of her mother’s death and her coping mechanism of being a workaholic. Between Michael and Lily, you may find yourself hoping the monster prevails instead of his prey since sadly, he is far more interesting.

While it may not find a firm footing, The Only Child is still within the literary realm that Pyper enjoys exploring. With a gothic/modern espionage feel that may not be a familiar place for his readers, it’s still worth checking out for an interesting villain brought to life from the pages of Shelley, Stoker and Stevenson. Here’s hoping there’s a compelling prequel in store.

Face Off Season 8 Episode 13: Western Steampunk

Published April 9, 2015 by vfdpixie

This episode would determine the final 3 artists going to the finale.  The last Spotlight Challenge took them to Paramount Ranch’s Western Town.  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show Wild, Wild West, the artists would have to re-imagine a classic Western character into steampunk.  They would find their classic character from buildings on the set:  Sheriff (Jail), Barmaid (Saloon), Bank Robber (Bank), and Mortician (Undertaker).  To give them some advice on the subject was their judge, Glenn Hetrick, in full steampunk regalia.  He explained that steampunk involved 2 elements:  Victorian or Edwardian style and antediluvian or antiquated technology. He wanted their designs to look like each element had a purpose and actually worked.

Logan picked the barmaid.  He wanted her to be sexy and hardcore with a mechanical arm attached to a tank to serve drinks.  At first he went for a more voluptuous, caricature look with giant breasts, but Coach Rayce thankfully talked him out of that.  After Mr. Westmore told him to create an over-the-top beauty makeup for the character, Logan went to work sculpting the barmaid’s face with pre-made metal pieces embedded into the sculpt.  He used L-200, tubing and a waxing tool to create an arm and sculpt some intricate filigree into his fabrications.  He wanted to add tubes so she could actually serve liquids from her fingers, but in last looks he had to scrap it as he spent too much time on application day fixing the symmetry of the face and making his chest piece look presentable.  The finished makeup was really effective but the judges noticed the neck and chest wrinkling and blending issues.  They did however, love the arm and all the functional details as well as her filigree head-piece and good anatomical forms.

Darla worked on the blacksmith.  She was not familiar with steampunk and was stumped as to how she should proceed.  She had no direction but gathered materials to help her think.  She finally came up with a blacksmith who had a forge instead of a heart and an iron jaw.  Mr. Westmore took the idea further and suggested a door and L.E.D. lights inside the forge.  She also incorporated eyes with separate lens instead of goggles for a more integrated take on the classic steampunk look.  She created a complex paint finish with layers of flecked paint and veining, as well as adding dirt and sweat on the model.  She was worried her look wasn’t enough, but her blacksmith was great.  I loved the jaw, and the judges liked that the theme or core of the makeup was literally represented by the forge in his chest.  They also liked the skin growing over the goggle eye pieces that took the makeup to another level, as well as the sweat detail.

Julian did a steampunk bank robber.  He also wanted a cyborg arm and weapon.  He got a lot of help from Coach Laura because it was his first time for fabrication.  He wanted to have a rotating shooting arm, but Mr. Westmore told him to sell the idea instead of losing time making the arm function.  Julian created a clear dome for the head instead, to make his mechanical brain visible.  He sculpted a scarred and wrinkled face, and despite feeling screwed with all the fabrication, plugged along and focused on details.  The clear dome proved too time consuming to put on, so he scrapped it.  Luckily, his makeup didn’t suffer for that.  The judges liked the idea, and even though they thought the sculpting was rough and the mechanics needed more purpose, they liked the overall silhouette and Western aesthetic.

Emily went for the mortician.  She wanted to incorporate a coffin in his chest, and spent most of the first day on that.  She didn’t have an idea for the face and knew that it would make or break the challenge.  She was frustrated but came up with a metal beard and respirator for her character’s face.  She created vaccumform bottles and mixed hair gel and acrylic paint to coat the props so they looked full.  Since her edges looked a bit weird, she went with a stylized look and created a corrosive textured skin.  Her steampunk mortician was a total look with a great paint job.  The judges liked the colours and oxidized look as well as her ingenious choices, textures and burned looking hairline.

Emily was the winner and the first finale artist!  They loved the weathered paint and the non-traditional steampunk character that still looked of that world.  The second artist going to the finale was Darla (YAY!).  They liked her choices and the clean finished makeup she presented.  The third was Logan for his overall aesthetic and filigree work.  That meant Julian went home.  The judges were gutted over making that choice, and they were sad he was going home, but he was proud to have made it that far.

That means Coach Laura and Coach Rayce is taking their artists to the finale, and from what McKenzie promises, it will be the most difficult finale yet!

View From the Dark

Reviews and essays on genre film from a WOC perspective

Professor Chireau's Academic Hoodoo

a research blog on Africana Religions

Cinema Axis

Where All Things Film Converge


burke –verb (used with object), burked, burk·ing. to murder, as by suffocation, so as to sell the corpse to medical science

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

grotesque ground

Promoting the grotesque in cinema and literature.


Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.


A ranting woman's mind

The Tyranny of Tradition

Lamentations and Jeremiads 25 Years After The End Of History

What Are You Doing Here?

A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.