Friday, 20 January 2017

A first look at the Steampunk'd Thames, with Miss Archivy Daguerre-Rouge

Thames holds an annual Steampunk festival every November, and for the last two festivals I've been fortunate to be involved with the Academy of Futures Past events. For the 2016 festival, I gave two talks at the Academy - one was a lecture about my time at the 2015 Weekend at the Asylum (Europe's largest Steampunk festival), and the other was as part of a panel talk titled Steampunk 101.

Archivy Daguerre-Rouge is my steampunk alter-ego - I've toyed with aspects of her personality in the past, but the 2016 Academy was really the first time I've thought about her back-story. I've framed her as a new breed of historian - in her world, small-scale time travel is a parlour trick for the fabulously wealthy back in Merry Olde England, but when Archivy takes up a post as historian on the wild frontier of the Thames gold field, the old rules no longer apply. The Thames' steampunkers are flippant about the consequences of their new, stronger, augmented technologies, and things become murky as Archivy struggles to keep track of multiple contradictory timelines. Ultimately, she establishes the Forbidden Archive, a storage place for the ephemera of days that never were.

This piece is one written by Archivy and the lovely Domina Cattus Deus - in their world, it's a PSA for Gazette readers about the caffeine preferences on several notable historic Thames personalities one might find timeswept in the main street. In the real world, it's something my friend Shannon and I brainstormed after work one afternoon while I was researching my January Grahamstown Gazette article.

Archivy Daguerre-Rouge and Domina Cattus Deus

 Time travel is a thirsty business on the wild frontier of the Steampunk’d Thames. With the advent of quick, painless and vaguely accurate steam-powered time travel technology, zapping yourself or your friends through the vast unknown vortex of ether has never so easy. These days, you never know whose obscure great-grand uncle or parallel-universe evil twin you'll run into down at the tea parlour.

Fortunately for us, local historian and teapot enthusiast Miss Daguerre-Rouge has compiled - from her extensive notebooks on the Intricacies of Varied and Interesting Timelines on The Thames - a list of notable home-town heroes; each annotated with the Refreshing and Delightful beverages they enjoy whilst visiting the modern café scene.

·         Captain Butt, owner of the infamous Shortland Hotel on Butt's Corner - an Americano for now. Maybe something a bit stronger for later.

·         Sir George Grey, local MP and New Zealand Premier - your finest Earl Grey, in a fine china cup.

·         Robert Graham, recreational shipwreck survivor and founder of Grahamstown. And Tararu. And Ellislie – what’s the new Coffee of the Month?

·         Edgar Rigden Batten, Jean Batten's uncle and well-known Thames dentist - just chilled water, thanks, nothing too sugary.

·         Charles and Ruth Palmer, confectioners – Candy Cane Mochaccinos all round!!

·         Rev. Vicesimus Lush, prolific diary-keeper and local voice of reason – two flat whites: one suspended, one to go.

·         William Hall, founder of the eponymous local Arboretum – a Hazelnut Chai Latte.

·         Sir Keith Parks, the man who won the Battle of Britain - a Short Black; no milk, no sugar, no poncing around.

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