First and foremost, though, I wanted to wish Yen the very best...whatever is happening, I hope you're all right, dear friend.
I'm sorry for the lapse, I've had a few things get in the way. One of them research when I wasn't having one thing or the other for that bugaboo called 'life in general' getting in the damn way. Bah, I'm back anyhow and doing as okay as anyone can be!
So maybe you're asking what my research was into...maybe you couldn't give a damn less. I'll tell you anyway:
In one word, steampunk.
Some of you will come across this saying "Huh?", while others will brighten like a gaslight lamp. For those who don't know, a little explanation (in a nutshell with thanks to Wikipedia). Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction heavily influenced by the 19th Century 'scientific romances' of Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells, and would therefore be set in the Victorian Era between 1837 and 1901. This was both an extended period of prosperity for the British, and a time of great change and industrial revolution in the United States. Steampunk fiction envisions a world where steam still drives the world in Victorian times, but anything or everything else is different or brought far in advance of what is historically known. Think an alternate universe where paths that hadn't been taken were taken, and you'll have a good grasp of what steampunk is all about.
Two of the best mainstream examples of steampunk can be found from similar places. One is "The Wild, Wild West", the 1960's television series with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin that was a combination of two genres, the western and science fiction. (Its time period was still in Victorian times, when Ulysses S. Grant was President, and is therefore considered definitive steampunk.) The other place is the 1999 Will Smith-Kevin Kline film inspired by that program...the movie sucked, but its conventions and creations still held true to the sub-genre.
Imagine a world of the 19th Century where armies of steam-driven robots are set against one another for world domination. Imagine airships big as skyscrapers cutting through the skies. Imagine things like automobiles and airplanes practically and competently created decades ahead of their time, or computers and rocket ships a century or longer before they began to revolutionize the endeavors of science. Imagine looking at the world through brass goggles instead of rose-colored glasses as you drive or fly through this world.
The more I learn about steampunk, the more I learn about steam power...and I wonder to myself why more level heads couldn't have made such a world a reality. Fault human beings for not being perfect and putting our brain cells to use where it really counted, I guess. But I've been researching both real Victorian Era history and steampunk, and needless to say...I've been given a few good ideas.
I won't share them with you right away...but there will be more to come as time marches on.... ^_^