Sunday, May 15, 2011

Briefly, Stirling's Peshawar Lancers

I'm writing up a brief thing for SPWF on this book, but I just wanted to say, as fun as it is in being a direct tribute to old pulp fiction and adventure stories, and as interesting as the construction of English identity is, this was a terrible book. I literally cringed at more passages in the novel than I should have been. It's alienating because it was just so clearly written for a straight, white, male audience and just glossed over so many problematic racist and sexist tropes, accepting them as part of the setting without truly interrogating them. If you wanted fluff, if you wanted a light read (and you can deal with a fuckton of problematic colonialism), then sure, this is the book for you, but I do expect more from my entertainment. So while I'm getting a lot out of this book in terms Shit To Get Angry About and Analyse To fuckin' Death, I think the world would be better off without books like this that perpetuate racist discourse in the guise of entertainment. 

Con Report: Nova Albion, March 25 - 27 2011

Originally written for and posted at's Nova Albion Convention Extravaganza. This is the graphics-less edition.  

So, Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition, ya’ll. I’m going to start at the beginning, which is way before the actual convention itself. You may not like what you read. In fact, ya’ll might accuse me of negativity. Fair ’nuff.
I’ll state upfront that Nova Albion is the second steampunk con I’ve attended, and the fourth fan convention. I’m not really big on conventions. I think costumes are expensive (fun! but expensive) and unless I feel like I’m actually contributing to something (my presence does not count) I don’t feel like it’s worthwhile subjecting myself to so many strangers. I am a misanthrope like that.
Ay-Leen and I were invited to be guest speakers at Nova Albion, and we were quite flattered.
Until we saw the theme: Wild Wild East. This was my first reaction: “Do these people grasp the potential for Fail with such a theme?”
Neither Dan nor Ariane struck me as anything other than white, and when a white-led group tackles a theme as this, I don’t trust them to handle it well. This would not have been my reaction years ago, before I was involved in anti-racist activism. Just something I have picked up from years of being involved with other PoC who have been failed by white-led groups and events, time and again. Considering my work is on how badly misrepresented and underrepresented Asians and other minorities in white-dominated spheres are in steampunk, my defenses went right up.
But still, Nova Albion is in California! And I heard California is like, land of Asians in the realm of America! We both made suggestions that the organizers look up local organizations to speak at the convention, because, what an opportunity to highlight the local Asian populations! Bring in history that’s rarely discussed in mainstream spaces! Or just lend exposure to local Asians who might not have such a platform otherwise! I was looking forward to meeting some awesome Asian intellectuals and academics and, of course, fellow steampunks! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Con Report: Canadian National Steampunk Exbihition, April 29 - May 1, 2011

Folks, I was really nervous about CNSE. Liana Kerzner gave me the two program items I pitched to her, and then I didn’t hear from her for the longest time until maybe a week before, just to be neurotic about whether I’ll have a projector for the Steam Around the World presentation. I also knew just about two people attending, the awesome Steampunk Scholar Mike Perschon, and Countess Lenora, or Lee Ann Farruga.

The hotel was in a decent location, out in Markham in a fairly commercial area. The convention was sharing the same space as a couple of kids’ hockey teams, it seems, so all weekend, the three elevators were extremely slow as the kids monopolized them, which was extremely frustrating because aside from a stairwell that was either hard to find or just plain locked, most of us who just wanted to go between the lower level, the first, and second floors had to wait an inordinate amount of time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Steampunk Bible!

Folks! The Steampunk Bible, edited by Jeff Vandermeer (who edited both Steampunk anthologies from Tachyon Publishing) and S.J. Chambers, is now out!

Here is the blurb:
Steampunk—a grafting of Victorian aesthetic and punk rock attitude onto various forms of science-fiction culture—is a phenomenon that has come to influence film, literature, art, music, fashion, and more. The Steampunk Bible is the first compendium about the movement, tracing its roots in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells through its most recent expression in movies such asSherlock Holmes. Its adherents celebrate the inventor as an artist and hero, re-envisioning and crafting retro technologies including antiquated airships and robots. A burgeoning DIY community has brought a distinctive Victorian-fantasy style to their crafts and art. Steampunk evokes a sense of adventure and discovery, and embraces extinct technologies as a way of talking about the future. This ultimate manual will appeal to aficionados and novices alike as author Jeff VanderMeer takes the reader on a wild ride through the clockwork corridors of Steampunk history.
The Steampunk Bible features a ton of awesome and wonderful people in the steampunk community, a ton of lovely art, articles with lots of writers, and yours truly is in it!

Have some pretty pictures under the cut!