Tag Archives: Will Smith

On This Day…25 September

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Good morning, good day, good evening, and welcome to Saturday’s installment of On This Day. I hope you’re well and that you enjoy your weekend. To set you off on the right path, here’s your daily trip down memory lane. Way down memory lane. So way down in fact, we’re starting with what happened on this day in…

303 – On a voyage preaching the gospel, Saint Fermin of Pamplona is beheaded in Amiens, France. A bit of a wasted journey if you ask me. The French are not for turning.

1066 – The Battle of Stamford Bridge marks the end of the Viking invasions of England. Chelsea FC play their home games there now. I thought John Terry looked like a Norse, all right.

1690 – Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, is published for the first and only time. No one bought obviously.

The Bill of Rights

1789 – The U.S. Congress passes twelve amendments to the United States Constitution: the Congressional Apportionment Amendment (which was never ratified), the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten that are known as the Bill of Rights.

1906 – In the presence of the king and before a great crowd, Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrates the invention of the Telekino in the port of Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore, in what is considered the birth of the remote control.

1944 – World War II: Surviving elements of the British 1st Airborne Division withdraw from Arnhem in the Netherlands, thus ending the Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden. It was A Bridge Too Far.

1983 – Maze Prison escape: 38 republican prisoners, armed with 6 handguns, hijack a prison meals lorry and smash their way out of the Maze prison. It is the largest prison escape since WWII and in British history.

1996 – The last of the Magdalene Asylums closes in Ireland; just one of the many scandals Ireland has endured under the institution of the Catholic Church.

Celebrity birthdays today include:

Mr & Mrs Zeta-Jones Douglas (Image: babble.com)

Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband, Michael Douglas, share their birthdays today. She is 41, he is 66. We wish Michael well as he recovers from throat cancer.

Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, is 59 and still strong with the Force.

Maria Doyle Kennedy, Irish singer, actress and star of The Commitments, is 46.

Hollywood actor Will Smith is 42.

Steampunk’d

The Affinity Bridge, by George Mann

I’ve just finished reading my first Steampunk novel. It’s called The Affinity Bridge, and it’s written by an English writer called George Mann. It’s the first in a series of books featuring Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes, and it’s a thumping good read.

The setting is Victorian London, at the turn on the 20th century – but it’s not the London historians would be familiar with. It’s the age of Steampunk: a sub-genre of science, speculative and fantasy fiction that combines alternate realities with modern-day technology. Whereas “proper” Victorian London was all gas-light and horse-drawn carriages, Steampunk London adds automatons, airships, a daring sense of fashion and a hint of the Dark Arts to the mix.

The forerunner of Steampunk is believed to be Jules Verne with his 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The term itself was coined, it seems, by writer K.W. Jeter, who was looking for a way to describe his own writing. Steampunk became mainstream with the release of the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, created by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. You may remember the disappointing movie adaptation rather than the novel, but the elements are the same: technology at a time that historically wasn’t ready for it. (The less said about the Will Smith movie, The Wild Wild West, the better.)

image c/o brassgoggles.co.uk

It’s a unique genre; well, unique to me, at any rate. So much so that when I was reading Mann’s book, I couldn’t help but envisage Dublin from a similar angle. I began asking myself questions. What would Steampunk Dublin look like? What would its citizens wear? And what kind of adventures would they have? By the look and sound of what Mann and other Steampunk writers have done, absolutely anything could happen.

Imagine the relationship between Ireland and England in a Steampunk setting. I already have an idea about what I might do. I already have a working title for it, too.

It’s going to be called Minus Ten. You read it here first.