Saturday, March 3, 2018

Review: Cold Magic, by Kate Elliott

When one hears a book described as "Afro-Celtic icepunk fantasy," it is imperative that one reads said book at some point in time, especially if the description came right out of the authoress' mouth into one's ears directly. And thanks to a kind soul who responded to my Amazon Book Wish List, I have this lovely book in my physical hands. Thank you, book buyer! This review is for you!

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Steampunk Postcolonialist is DONE SCHOOL!

I rarely post here these days, and it's not from a lack of desire to do so. I've had multiple reasons not to:

- I've had to focus on writing my dissertation and other such papers. Writing blogposts for a public audience is very different from writing for an academic audience: the discourse differs, the language loosens. I would start writing a chapter the way I hoped I would write about for this blog, and my adviser would remind me that when I write a dissertation, I can't write it as I would a blog. And fair enough! However, it became very difficult for me to switch gears regularly and write posts that I would be happy posting. But writing is also so very difficult, and expending energy on more than one thing seemed unproductive. Graduate school (and academia generally) is an anxiety-producing space and I would feel tremendously guilty for wasting my time thinking about blogging than writing my dissertation. Now that I am free, I am going to take my time re-discovering my ideas in a fast and loose fashion, and re-acquainting myself with you, my audience. 

- This blog gets cited, sometimes. While I believe in the freedom of ideas, I am also deeply cognizant of the power dynamics involved in the ways that ideas are circulated: that certain people are given credit for saying things already said by others. Other people are in a much better position to lift ideas and while citation should be a form of giving credit, the non-academic often loses out. When Diana and I began writing on multiculturalism in steampunk, our critiques fueled other people's work. Unlike many other people, I don't tend to get terribly excited about being cited; it's nice, but the chances of misinterpretation, especially by white academics, are high. And I hold nothing against these white academics--often they are doing this because it's important to acknowledge the racialized elephant in the room when it comes to steampunk. I don't have to be comfortable with something I acknowledge. (And, of course, neither do you.) And because I am also a jealous person, I didn't want my ideas, half-formed and incoherent, out there to be picked up upon before I was ready.

- Most of the things I've had to say about steampunk and race have already been said, are in my archives, and I don't like repeating material. I get that people need things hammered into them but honestly I'm not anybody's parent, and there are only so many ways to say "stop being a racist." New material would require me to remain plugged into the steampunk community, and I had to withdraw because of graduate school obligations: I've attended very few steampunk conventions due to lack of transit options and connections; I sort of stopped buying books because there is only so much white steampunk I can tolerate (works featuring non-white protagonists written by white authors fall into this category); there is so much work to do to share things with you.

- And I just.... got tired. And I didn't feel like blogging as much anymore. I left this blog up as a general repository, and also because every so often someone on Twitter whinges about how come there is no POC in steampunk and I need to deploy a list of links at them. Folks don't know what they don't know but I don't need to see people who are new to steampunk talking about POC in steampunk as if we were a new idea. This is not a "get off my lawn" sentiment; this is a "welcome to the party, the bar is there, the washrooms are at the back, please stop talking about improving the club when you literally stepped in five minutes ago and aren't more than five feet from the door." (I am not a very gracious person, as you may have noticed.)

Either way, this bitch is back in the club. I would really like to get back to steampunk, to blogging about steampunk. I've seen some really marvelous things, read some really marvelous books, met some really marvelous people. This blog will remain about postcolonialism and steampunk. You can read a more general view of my academic journey at my other blog, and I will go into further detail here. I'm also hoping to put up the whole of my dissertation here on Silver Goggles in some fashion, so that it gets wider dissemination. (This will be a different blog post.)

Happy new Gregorian, steampunks. I look forward to getting to know you again. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Transcript: "Claiming Narratives, Re-Telling History: Bringing Southeast Asian Steampunk to the World Stage"

Recently I went to a conference held by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, entitled "Making Southeast Asian Culture: From Region To World." Thanks to Dr. Gui Weihsin, I was on a panel on literary transformations in Southeast Asia.

I wouldn't really say I'm a Southeast Asianist. In my main blog, I describe myself as being involved with UC Riverside's SEATRiP program not by research, but through my creative pursuits. I DO study Southeast Asian history and cultures, but that is because I write stories that are meant for a Southeast Asian audience. So when Dr. Gui invited me to submit an abstract for this conference, I wracked my brain trying to think of a good usable topic (that could, in the interests of an academic career, transform into a publishable paper) and thought of something completely different, but completely untenable, and he said, "why not just talk about your book? You edited it, you know the field, you'd be the only steampunk specialist there, and it's Southeast Asian literature."

I can do that?

And turns out, of course I can, which put me into the position of speaking as an academic about a book I personally edited. I was very uncomfortable because on the one hand, Dr. Gui was right, it IS Southeast Asian Literature (we've got one white woman in the entire Table of Contents; white women are very diverse these days) and I AM an expert on the field and it IS a great opportunity to tell people about the book, but on the other hand, I have been taught, in so many ways, that being proud of my work and what I've done and talking about it is kind of big-headed, arrogant, and kinda rude. But I have the support of many lovely people here at UCR, including my adviser, so I wrote it, and made a very nice Powerpoint (which I'm not actually putting up here). 

So here is the transcript!