Swedish actress Electra Hallman as Hedda in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Click on the picture for a larger version. Photo: The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm.
A scene that could be straight out of the Victorian science fiction role-playing game Space 1889. It appears that someone brought a marine reptile from Venus to Milwaukee and lost it in the local waterways. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)
Aviatrix by Priscilla Kim. Click on the picture for a larger version
The year is 1891 and the place is Mars. A pack of steam-propelled airships slogs it out with a sky frigate above a canal city. The small ships display no flags, so their attack is a case of piracy and not a legitimate act of war.
This is a scene from the Victorian science fiction game Space 1889 (link >>> ) by Frank Chadwick. This has been my favorite game since the early 1990s; my buddies and I have experienced scores of adventures in the dilapidated cities and cold skies of the Red Planet.
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Artist: Flavio Bolla at DeviantArt
Strange phenomena in the sky? People have reported such matters for a long time, even though the “flying saucer” fad only dates back to the 1940s. In the late 19th century people instead spoke of encounters with human-piloted airships with amazing capabilities, and in earlier times chroniclers mentioned observations of dragons or scary omens among the clouds.
Every now and then old art unbiddingly kick-starts my creativity. When I recently saw this painting by Caspar David Friederich, a Romantic artist active in the first decades of the 19th century, I read it as a depiction of a UFO encounter by two Germans during the Napoleonic Wars. X-Files in a historical setting, so to speak.
Such an interpretation could serve as the starting-point for an adventure in Götterdämmerung (a Swedish 18th-century horror RPG); as a clue indicating that something nefarious travels through time in Skuggornas Mästare (a Swedish modern-day conspiracy-themed RPG); or as the inspiration for an “X-File-ish” campaign that mixes GURPS Age of Napoleon with GURPS Atomic Horror.
It is also possible to realign the steampunk Space 1889 to a tarpunk Space 1809 by letting UFOs take a group of Regency-era adventurers to Mars (that world remains the same, just remove Victorian colonialism). Martian muskets and steam engines use technologies that are familiar to Westerners of that era, and serious speculations about alien populated worlds were introduced in European academia already in the 16th century, by for example Giordano Bruno.
Twin Gorges by The Art of Saul on DeviantArt. This is a Canal Martian city straight out of the Space 1889 role-playing game. Click on the picture for a larger version.
This picture was originally a piece of concept art for a Disney project (link >>> ), but when my gaze reached it, I immediately saw a human settlement along a Venusian river in Space 1889. I suggest that you also take a look at this Venusian post — link >>> — and this one — link >>>
Get a larger version by clicking on the picture.