Tag Archives: Jack the Ripper

#atozchallenge: V is for Voyage of Discovery

by Lillian Csernica on April 25, 2018


The 1880s were an amazing time to be alive. All over the world scientific breakthroughs were changing life, from the wonders of the steam engine to the humble advantages of the first dish washing machine. Some major highlights included:

1880–1882: Development and commercial production of electric lighting was underway. Thomas Edison of Milan, Ohio, established Edison Illuminating Company on December 17, 1880. Based at New York City, it was the pioneer company of the electrical power industry.

1882–1883: John Hopkinson of Manchester, England patents the three-phase electric power system in 1882. In 1883 Hopkinson showed mathematically that it was possible to connect two alternating current dynamos in parallel — a problem that had long bedeviled electrical engineers.

1885: Galileo Ferraris of Livorno Piemonte, Kingdom of Italy reaches the concept of a rotating magnetic field. He applied it to a new motor. “Ferraris devised a motor using electromagnets at right angles and powered by alternating currents that were 90° out of phase, thus producing a revolving magnetic field. The motor, the direction of which could be reversed by reversing its polarity, proved the solution to the last remaining problem in alternating-current motors. The principle made possible the development of the asynchronous, self-starting electric motor that is still used today. Believing that the scientific and intellectual values of new developments far outstripped material values, Ferraris deliberately did not patent his invention; on the contrary, he demonstrated it freely in his own laboratory to all comers.” He published his findings in 1888. By then, Nikola Tesla had independently reached the same concept and was seeking a patent.[34]

1886: Charles Martin Hall of Thompson Township, Geauga County, Ohio, and Paul Héroult of Thury-Harcourt, Normandy independently discover the same inexpensive method for producing aluminium, which became the first metal to attain widespread use since the prehistoric discovery of iron.



The literature of the time examined the benefits and disadvantages to all of these technological marvels.

Literature and arts


Two more notable events destined to have a lingering impact on the world:




In this time period the world was full of possibilities. Scientific breakthroughs were changing the way people perceive the universe and its daily workings. That had a significant impact on belief in the creatures of mythology, folklore, and so-called superstition.

Where better to dramatize this conflict than Japan, land of eight million gods?





Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, classics, doctors, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, science fiction, steampunk, sword and sorcery, travel, Writing

And the Clock Wound Down

by Lillian Csernica on May 28, 2014

Meant to get to this more promptly, but upon my return home I discovered one of my cats had developed a serious abscess.  We took him to the vet the next morning, and it was worse than we realized.  Fortunately, our vet is great, so the cat will be fine.


I started my Monday off with the naginata demo held in the War Room.  Alyne and Malyne Hazard taught a good dozen of us how to hold the naginata, then the proper forms for executing the head cut called “men” and the shin cut called “tsune.”  I had some trouble with my form and doing things in the proper order, and then remembering to yell as well!  Cheerful and patient, the Hazard sisters and their assistants corrected us with smiles and encouragement.  By the end of the hour I could even look my opponent in the eyes instead of staring at my target while I struck.  What a thrill to be able to learn such a weapon, the main weapon of Japanese women in my chosen time period!

Monday morning’s panel schedule put Pat and me back to back, with my “Steampunk in Japan” panel followed by her “Steampunk CSI.”  I had divided my panel material into two parts.  The first dealt with the technology transfers that came from the West with the three French military missions, the two German missions, and then the United States and other countries joining in as trade opened up after the Shogunate fell and the Meiji Restoration was well underway.  The second half gave an overview of popular facets of steampunk culture in modern Japan to be found in anime, manga, music and fashion.  Before the panel started, one fellow asked me if I’d be addressing modern Japan, such as the SteamGarden events, and I was happy to tell him I would be.

Pat drew a good crowd for “Steampunk CSI.”  I was running the Power Point program, which meant I sat there pushing the button to advance the slides.  With an examination of the technology available in Sherlock Holmes’ days, Pat showed what could have been possible in terms of forensic science.  (I do wish she’d warned me ahead of time about some of the case photos that showed that shotgun and knife wounds really look like and why.  Good thing I don’t eat much for breakfast!)  The people in the crowd who had an interest in the Jack the Ripper mystery got their dose of fascination when Pat talked about Patricia Cornwell’s book on the subject.

We’d made arrangements for late check-out, which gave us until 1 p.m.  That was a very narrow margin, because I was on from 11 to noon and Pat from noon to 1 p.m.  I slipped out early, cleared the last of my luggage from our room, parked it with Pat, then ran back to make sure I tipped our maid.  I’m a bit OCD about tipping.  One, it’s customary, two, it’s polite to show appreciation this way, and three, some people who live on the margins rely on that money to make the difference.  I might not know exactly who those people are, but that’s none of my business anyway.

Nautilus shells: N. macromphalus (left), A. scrobiculatus (centre), N. pompilius (right)

Pat hadn’t been to the Caravan Bazaar yet, so off we went.  I finally made it back to the lady selling the wonderful embroidered patches.  We worked out a trade for one of my contributor’s copies of Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails.  She got the book and I got two patches, one with a rocket ship and one with a Nautilus (the sea creature).  She even threw in a third patch that expressed the theme of another of my stories.  Such a deal!

At last it was time to hit the road for home.  We got to my house considerably earlier than we usually arrive.  Fortunately, the holiday traffic was all going the other way as people who went to Santa Cruz returned to Silicon Valley and points north.  My boys always like to see “Aunt Pat,” especially Michael.  Then Pat and I sat down in my office and spent two or three hours at the computer which were devoted to an important aspect of her Shameless Self-Promotion.  It was a funny feeling to be the person who knew more about what we were doing, but I’d traveled the route we were taking already, so I could explain the comparative advantages of the choices available.  If it seems like I’m being deliberately vague, I am.  It’s for Pat to announce and present what we came up with when the time is right.

The cats missed me, the kids were glad to see me, and nothing had blown up or broken down while I was away.  All in all, a really spectacular weekend!



Filed under cats, Conventions, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, history, Horror, Humor, Japan, romance, science fiction, Writing