A Tribute to Richard Nagy

It is with sadness, and no small amount of personal regret, that I and our steampunk community learned of the passing of steampunk artist and maker, Richard Nagy, from a car accident.


For many, Rich, possibly better known as “Datamancer“, and his amazing work were their first visual and tactile experience with steampunk. His fully functional keyboards and computers were among those founding moments in the mid and late 2000s when steampunk began to really grow from its literary roots.


Whether it was a laptop case modification, a keyboard, The Clacker, or The Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixello-Dynamotronic Computational Engine, Rich’s creativity grabbed our collective interest and imagination. He brought steampunk computers from the stories and novels into our real world, and in doing so, shaped an aesthetic we have come to expect.


His work was elegant, practical, functional, and as important, it conveyed an idea, a feeling, a willing suspension of disbelief coupled with profound imagination. For some of us, it wasn’t just that we wanted his keyboards and his computers, nor just that we wanted to be or become steampunks, it was that we *knew* we were steampunks, and in that moment we could easily, clearly, and confidently see ourselves in our beloved future-that-never-was owning and using such devices as part of our everyday world. It was Rich who made us believe.


By all accounts, Rich was kind, patient, and generously shared his knowledge and enthusiasm with others. For those in the community who didn’t know him long nor well, he still left us with a gift – he inspired us.


It would take the rest of our days to recount all the stories and comments of how he affected people and their lives. From enticing them with his handiwork, to opening a gateway into the community, to encouraging people to express their own creativity in ways they hadn’t considered, Rich left people with a motivation, a drive, to participate and be engaged – in some way, in any way, in something, especially in themselves.


Our community is a little poorer for his passing. We won’t be able to see amazing new creations from his workshop, and he will certainly be missed, but we can ensure that he and his work are not lost or forgotten. Each of us in our own way can remember his tremendous contribution and impact, to our community, and to us as individuals. Each day, we can pass along the excitement and interest he engendered within us to similarly make someone else’s day, perhaps their life, better. That can be our best way to remember Richard “Doc” Nagy.



Please also read these tributes to Rich and his work:

The Maker Movement Loses its Datamancer by Gareth Branwyn

Richard Nagy a.k.a. Datamancer has passed into the Æther by Marcus Rauchfuss


His wife, Kim, has posted the information regarding services for Rich.

Richard “Doc” Nagy

A Celebration of Life

Saturday, November 30, 2013

3pm – 6pm

McAuley and Wallace Mortuary

902 N. Harbor Blvd.

Fullerton, CA 92832

(714) 525-4721



Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 12:04 am  Comments (8)  
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Return Interview with Richard Preston, Jr., Part 2

Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat with Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., author of Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War, the second book of The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin. We first talked with Richard after the release of his first book, Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders on 2 July, 2013.

Read part one here.


Airship Ambassador: There’s a flying kraken attack in this book. Without revealing too much, aside from creating action and tension, what kind of thought had to go into that scene to make it feel real to the readers??

Richard Preston: I think that you have to make it come alive in the sensations and details and in a realistic portrayal of a human being functioning in a life-or-death, chaotic situation.  The brain picks out odd things when it’s under immense stress, like a particular color or sound.  Actions and choices can occur at the most basic, animalistic levels.  And as long as I am prepared to believe the kraken is real and present it that way then I know that my fantasy readers are ready and willing to come along.  If I lose the reader then it is my fault.


AA: There’s also some politics and maneuvering going on among groups as they rally, perhaps uneasily, together against an expected and common foe. What are some of the processes you went through to create that kind of intrigue and drama?

RP: I had to create complicated back stories for all of the involved characters and clans.  I have developed (and am still developing) pages and pages of genealogical and historical data in my world building.  It’s a lot of work but it pays off handsomely. When I know exactly how each clans views the other and what things have happened between them in the past, then I can mine the baggage each brings to the negotiating table in a time of great mutual peril.  This obviously adds to individual characters who also bring their own personal baggage with them.  People tend not to forget great wrongs inflicted upon their grandparents and that can be a great doorway into a new character as well.


AA: What has become your favorite scene in the book, and why?

RP: I have to say that the kraken battle is my favorite scene.  It is an obvious homage to the giant squid battle in Disney’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea movie which was (and still is) one of my great favorites.


AA: Are you one of those writers who has people in mind when writing a character, either for visuals or personality type, not just for writing but perhaps also in case the book made it to the silver screen?

RP: Yes and no.  I think that I do write cinematically but that is probably due to having been a screenwriter for a decade.  Sometimes I do start with a person in mind when I begin with a character but that usually falls away rapidly as that character takes on his or her own life in my imagination.


AA: Now that the first book has been out for awhile, what are the reactions you’ve heard about?

RP: For the most part the response has been pretty good. I’ve received rave reviews, mehs and outright pans.  Jeff VanderMeer predicted that it would be a book that people would either love or hate and I think he was pretty much on the nose with that one. Some readers adore the book and some can’t get through it.  I think it has been fairly successful for a first novel – I think it has held its own.


AA: With the print version available, are there any audio books, YouTube videos, or other formats on the horizon?

RP: Both books are released in Kindle, paperback, audio books and MP3-CD formats.  I don’t think I’d ever do a book trailer even though I have seen some excellent ones.  But I do reserve the right to change my mind about that one.

REPreston Author photo 1

AA: Looking forward, what can you share about the next adventure for Captain Buckle?

RP: In Book 3, which is the journey to Atlantis, I plan to do a lot of opening up of the world history and the characters (along with heavy doses of action, of course) and this one may end with something of a cliffhanger. It’s underwater steampunk!


AA: Aside from writing like a fiend, what have you been up to since the release of the first book? Conventions? Tours?

RP: I attended Comic Con San Diego which was a lot of fun but crowded. I am hoping to make it to quite a few of the local conventions (around Los Angeles) next year. There’s a good one on the Queen Mary (The HRM Steampunk Symposium) in January that I may be on a panel or two.  We’ll see.  I also did a reading/signing with eight other 47North authors at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach last month and that was my first – and a great experience.


AA: Any progress on being on a League of Steam podcast? Maybe Sounds of Steam?

RP: No, no steampunk podcasts yet!  I am a little fish.  I did do the Reading and Writing Podcast with Jeff Rutherford and that was a great experience.


AA: One step at a time with those podcasts! Thanks again for joining us to help celebrate your latest book! Any thoughts to share while we wait patiently for the next book?

RP: You are welcome and thanks so much for having me aboard!  I’d encourage your readers to enter the signed book giveaway!  As for thoughts … it’ll be at least a year until Book 3 comes out but I have a suspicion that Book 3 and Book 4 will be grouped close together again.  Please drop by my website if you want to follow updates on things like my new books, appearances and maybe some meatloaf recipes.  Plus, you can join my newsletter. Steampunk on!


Keep up to date with Richard Ellis Preston, Jr on his website and blog,

and sign up for Richard’s book giveaway, if you haven’t already.

Pick up your copies of Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War and Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders today!

HI Res book cover

Published in: on November 24, 2013 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Return Interview with Richard Preston, Jr

This week we welcome back Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., author of Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War, the second book of The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin. We first talked with Richard after the release of his first book, Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders on 2 July, 2013.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Richard, welcome back!

Richard Preston: Thanks, Kevin.  It’s great to be back here with you again.


AA: Congratulations on the release of your second book of the series. There’s not much time between the release of the first book, Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders, and this one. Is that a resulting of the publishing process, or are you really writing that quickly?

RP: Man alive, I wish I could write that quickly!  It’s a result of the offer/contract process being delayed.  I was able to write the second book while the first one was in limbo.  47North liked the fact that the books were released so close together.

REPreston Author photo 1

AA: Nice to hear your weren’t on a short deadline, but still, that’s a lot of work to write books in succession. When readers left Captain Buckle, his crew was pledging to follow him anywhere. Where does Engines of War take the Captain and crew next?

RP: The first book was what I like to call ‘hermetic,’ in the sense that it was small in scope.  City of the Founders was mostly a rescue mission so it barrels through a single trajectory and we don’t see a lot of the outside world beyond the zeppelin and the Founders city prison.  Book two, Engines of War, is the opposite: Buckle’s clan is attempting to forge a grand alliance with other clans as war with the Founders looms, and this opens up both the society and the geography.


AA: Without too many spoilers, what kind of adventures will we find everyone enjoying this time? How much of the previous Indiana Jones and Master and Commander feeling are present?

RP: I think that Indiana Jones and Master and Commander will always be present, whether I intend them to be or not.  The opening of the book, the first third, is a series of wild action sequences involving alien beasties – kinda Indy stuff there.  The end of the book is a huge zeppelin battle, so Master and Commanderish there.  There is a lot of political wrangling going on as well.


AA: The zeppeling battle sounds interesting to read. How much more of the Snow World do readers get to explore?

RP: I think it is a lot more.  They see several clan strongholds plus two new clan territories.  As I said, book two is much broader in scope than book one.  The entire Snow World is drawn into the vortex in book two.


AA: As a continuation of the story, what unique challenges did you face in writing this one so it wasn’t just a repeat of the first?

RP: I did not run into any issues of repetition yet but I’m sure that may arise in later books. This second book just takes off from the launching pad of the first.  I have never written a series before so it did take some trial-and error work to figure out how much I have to reintroduce the characters and situations to readers who read the first book but are many months or years removed.  Jeff VanderMeer was my development editor on this book as well as the first and with all of his experience he is quite good at knowing just what is necessary in terms of reintroduction.


AA: Jeff is a great resource, and certainly well known to the steampunk community. Did you find you had to do as much editing and cutting down on the back story as happened with the first book? What kind of things didn’t make it into print with this one?

RP:  Oh, boy, well, when I was writing the first draft of this book I was 500 pages in and not even to Part 3 yet (these books tend to be about 400-450 pages long).  I always write long first drafts because I don’t edit myself at all in the first creative burst.  But I did realize at that point that what I had first considered Part 3 of book two was actually an entire novel in itself (hence, book three).  Engines of War had its own natural ending point (a huge battle) so it was easy to wrap things up there.  Book three takes place almost entirely in an underwater city.  As for back story, I really tried to avoid much exposition in this book.  There is some room for it in book three, though.


AA: Anything that absolutely had to be in the story?

RP: I wanted to make sure that readers understood that the Founders had once been more powerful and that many of the established clans were once Founders colonies before the Founders empire had collapsed.


AA: Any easter eggs or external references which sharp-eyed readers should look for?

RP: Yes, there are – but I can’t give them away lol!  The geopolitical structure of the Snow World is loosely based on the geopolitical situation in Europe just before the First World War; if you are familiar with that balance of power you could probably identify which one of my clans is roughly representative of each specific nation but I may have developed things too far away from that starting point for that to be easy to do. I’d say keep a sharp eye on Penny Dreadful, the robot which appears at the end of Book Two.  She is important.


AA: Talking now about some of the characters, are there any real life inspirations for the Captain and crew?

RP: The dog, Kellie, is written to be my old dog who passed away a few years ago.  I sort of wrote the series for her, believe it or not.  She doesn’t pop up much in the books but when she does I feel like she is here with me again and I love that.  I’d also say that there is some of my own father in Balthazar.


We’ll take a quick break here in our chat with Richard Ellis Preston, Jr.

Sign up for Richard’s book giveaway, if you haven’t already.

Check back soon for the conclusion where Richard talks about scenes from the book and his writing style.

Pick up your copies of Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War and Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders today!



Published in: on November 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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