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Ayleen the Peacemaker at Roger Williams University: “Re-Racing Steampunk: Race, Memory & Retrofuturism”

Longtime friend of SPWS speaks at Roger Williams University on race and steampunk:  Re-Racing Steampunk: Race, Memory & Retrofuturism.

Steampunk Postcoloniality

My friend Jha Goh of Silver Goggles has a great guest posting over at STEAMED!

Steampunk, from the outside, looks like it’s all about Empire, you know? Charles Stross, famous very important science fiction literary figure, had a rant about it, which I think really points to two things: the ignorance of someone who’s not involved deeply in steampunk, and the impression steampunk is giving outsiders. 

The first is easily ignored, or would be, if it wasn’t for the fact that shit like Stross’ rant makes us look bad, no matter how into steampunk we are. Steampunks glorify Empire, and Stross has the clout to spread this impression far and wide. We should be concerned about this. 

We should also be concerned about the fact that this impression is one of the first that strangers and newcomers to steampunk get. Ask any one steampunk to define the genre, what do we get? Very often, the following words are part of the phrase: “19th century,” “Victorian,” “England.”

Read the rest here.

Steampunk on BBC America

STEAMPUNKS 2011 from Andy Gallacher on Vimeo.

A lovely little piece from the folks at BBC America featuring some of my favorite New York Steampunks that aired this past Tuesday in the U.S.!

Silver Goggles

I am really excited that we're starting to see sites dedicated to using the lens of Steampunk to examine social issues in both modern and historical milieus. Silver Goggles is one such site, examining issues of colonialism, imperialism and politics. From the masthead:

The purpose of Silver Goggles is to deconstruct narratives in steampunk, with a particular focus on the issues of colonialism, imperialism and politics, as they appear within steampunk literature and/or roleplay, in order to de-center the traditional Eurocentric focus. Using a wide range of postcolonial, post-structuralist, post-modern, race and feminist theories, Silver Goggles will analyze the language / discourse of steampunk that drive and/or reinforce current trends and representations of steampunk elements.

Silver Goggles is the work of Jaymee Goh who I've followed on twitter for some time and who I'm excited about meeting for the first time at the Steampunk World's Fair in May. Jaymee recently posted a particularly interesting and timely piece:  Countering Victorientalism. Folks, this is smart and important stuff.

Interview with a Steampunk

I had the great privilege of meeting Whisper Merlot and many of the Penny Dreadfuls when we shot the Make:TV Steampunk piece a year ago this past July.  These folks truly are living the life.  Tor has a great interview with Whisper up on their site now.

In addition to talking about living full-time aboard the S.S. Icarus (an actual vessel mind you, but alas, not an airship) and travelling New England spreading the Steampunk gospel, Whisper discusses The 2010 Steampunk World's Fair:

The Steampunk World’s Fair is going to be held at the Radisson of Piscataway, NJ on May 14th-16th, 2010. It will be three glorious days, a never-ending steampunk party!

Professor Elemental, whom people will know from his pith-hop video “Cup of Brown Joy”, is making his debut United States appearance for the event. He is coming over from the UK and is a wonderful and hilarious guy. We also have Black Tape for a Blue Girl, a dark cabaret group; Madame Ximon, a dancer and head of steampunk gaming event TempleConThomas S. Brown, the artist for New England steam-goth webcomic “Hopeless, Maine”; Opera singer Katie KatVeronique Chevalier, coming in from California to sing and amuse us. And of course lit-master G.D. FalksenIsabella Drive, the steampunk rock band, is working us into their busy schedule, too.

I think I may just have to go! I wonder if they'd let me park the bus in the parking lot?

Click through for Cup of Brown Joy - not to be missed!

Steampunk month at Tor Books!

It's Steampunk month at Tor Books!  See the Introduction to Steampunk Month here which includes a large index of what you can sxpect to see this month.  

Of particular interest to this scrapyard sociologist are Steampunk as Subculture and No Elitism Please, We’re Steampunk both by Jaymee Goh.

Boston Fashion Week Features a Steampunk Designer!

 Steampunk Fashion by Elena Sanders
Photo: Essdras M Suarez - Boston Globe Staff

There's a nice piece in the Boston Globe today about Boston's Fashion Week, but what particularly caught my eye was the mention of local designer Elena Sanders who was also mentioned back in May and is participating in a show entitled "The Launch."

From The Boston Fashion Week site:

The Fashion Group International of Boston board has launched a pilot program/event that will result in a presentation during Boston Fashion Week and will feature a selection of 'up & coming' new fashion designers.

Elena's chosen aesthetic is, of course, Steampunk and she discusses it with Christopher Muther of the Boston Globe:

I’m picturing lots of coal-stained faces and dust. How do you work different materials into your pieces without them becoming too much like costumes? Well, sometimes they do become a little bit like costumes. I just experiment with a lot of different materials, and my hands pay dearly for it. They’re always cut up and burned. The first time around I used basic metal. This time around I’m using rivets . . . .

By George I think she gets it! The show is Sunday September 27 at the Boston Center for Adult Education from 3-5 PM and costs $25.

Shout-out from Attack of the Show

Oh hai! we got a nice little shout-out from G4's Attack of the Show! (This is from 2007 but it apparently aired again last night - can anyone tell me what episode?)

Morbid Outlook does Steampunk

Here is a nice article in the online 'zine Morbid Outlook on the subject of Steampunk.  Featured are the work and images of many of my friends including the multi-talented Libby Bulloff and local Boston artist David Dowling along with quotes from the always wonderful Steampunk Magazine.

While I always knew that Steampunk would appeal to many in the dark/spooky/goth community, I was quite surprised how much those same people had to offer that was of interest to this normally shabby dressing garage tinkerer!  ;-)

[Left: David Dowling and Kat Cradock in a photo by Libby Bulloff]



The California Steampunk Convention - Keynote

Hi Everyone!  I'm in Seattle now hang'n with rockstars and anarchists for a couple of days of decompression post SteampoweredCon in San Jose.  Steampowered turned out to be a really great event with lots of fascinating people of an even broader spectrum then the already broad spectrum I expected.

My flight was delayed and as a result I was exhausted and a bit shaky when I arrived to give my keynote with only minutes to spare.  The room was at capacity and the crowd quickly made me feel at home. I gave my prepared speech and then unveiled the Wimshurst Machine which I built for an article that will appear in Make Magazine early next year.

Then I brought Jeff VanderMeer up and we announced the fact that on Monday we signed with Artisan Books to write a book on Steampunk!  The book will be highly visual and project oriented and will draw from and highlight all corners of the community.  I'm really excited about this project and really, really happy to be working with Jeff who is a consummate professional and really nice guy.  It was also kind of neat that we shared the announcement, and in fact our first meeting in the flesh, with a thousand or so attendees at the Con!

The following is the complete text of my keynote - it's un-copyedited or proofed so please ignore the typos!

You should also have a look at Alex Soojung-Kim Pang's Reflection on Tinkering from which I borrowed liberally for the speech as it was incredibly relevant to the ideas I wanted to convey that night.


Steampunk Keynote

What sort of future were you promised? When I was young they told me I'd have robotic servants to tend to my every need, cars that would drive themselves while I read the newspaper and vacations in orbiting space hotels. When I was a bit older they promised me ecologically friendly communities where we would all live together in geodesic domes in our white jump suits.


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