beamjockey (beamjockey) wrote,

Windycon Aftermath: More Girl Genius Lore, a Questionable Book, and a Steampunk Guest Lecturer

My "Seeds of Girl Genius" talk went satisfyingly well. Phil and Kaja Foglio attended. As a surprise, Rolf Wilson presented them with a fabulous 1958 book on automata, signed by dozens of Girl Genius readers.

Then I launched into my (hopefully-)learned discourse. I covered the origins of Frankenstein in 18th century science, tried to establish it as an ancestral work to GG, and moved on to clanks. There were some fabulous performing automata built in the 1700s that clearly influenced some of the machines portrayed in the comic, as kajafoglio afterward confirmed to me.

Then I moved on to the final topic, my role as eyewitness to the birth of the Heterodyne clan. (Must write this down soon.)

The crowd was amused by Steven Savage's Seventh Sanctum Heterodyne Story Generator. Cries of "URL!" I met with a quote from Teresa Nielsen Hayden, "What is this, National Forget How To Google Month?"

But to silence any remaining grumblers, here is the link.

I touched on the fictionalized nonfiction book The Heterodyne Boys' Big Book of Fun, as portrayed in Stanley and His Monster #1 in 1993. Few readers realized that it's based on a real book, which Phil found on another shopping expedition to the Bicentennial Bookshop in Kalamazoo a few years after the birth of the Boys.

Kaja mentioned that the book of horribly dangerous amusement for boys is The Boy Mechanic: 700 Things for Boys to Do, whose full text may be found in Google Books. Enjoy it.

Here's an ad for the book from the June 1915 issue of Cartoons magazine (itself well worth examining).

Click for a larger version

Here's a review from Education magazine.
The ideas contained in "The Boy Mechanic" would more than keep a boy occupied until he grows up and also be an incentive to original thinking and achievement.
Presuming he is not killed first.
Unlike so many other books of a somewhat similar nature, it is not confined to only one or a few subjects but describes 700 different things boys can make and do in the fields of mechanics, electricity, sports, arts and crafts work, magic, etc. An unusually generous book; size 7 by 10 in. and 1.5 in. thick; printed from large, clear type on high grade book paper and durably bound in cloth. Attractive four-color cover design. Many hours of enjoyment are in store for the boy who becomes possessor of this book. Price, $1.50, prepaid to any address.
Google's robot has its own inchoate, yet somehow stirring, way of reviewing this book, by extracting "common terms and phrases" from its text:
acid amperes armature attached babbitt metal base battery bell bend binding posts binding-post blade block bolt bored bottle bottom brass brush camera carbon paper circuit clamp cloth coat coil color connected constructed copper cord cork cover crosspieces diameter drilled dry cells edge electric fastened fingers frame glass glue groove gunwales hand handle heat hold hole Home-Made Ice Boat induction coil inside iron kite knife lamp lathe leather length light magnet metal motor nail needle notches ordinary paper paraffin photograph piece of wood pipe plate pulley removed Rheostat ring rivet round rubber sal ammoniac screws Secure shaft shape sheet shellac shown in Fig side sketch slide soldered solution square steel stick string strip surface switch tacks thick thread tion tube turned wheel wide wire zinc
Meanwhile, out West, serge_lj was giving his lecture on "Steampunk and Hollywood," which he has posted in not just one, but two parts. This is fun, if not as much fun as hearing Serge deliver it in person would be.
Tags: boy mechanic, comics, girl genius, heterodyne, heterodyne boys, history, kaja foglio, phil foglio, steven savage, studiofoglio
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