Sunday, April 29, 2012

Transcript: "Pangolin Bear?" "Just... Bear": Hybridity in Avatar: The Last Airbender @ Fantastic Narratives

This is a paper I presented on the 28th of April, at the Fantastic Narratives conference, Dalhousie University. Much thanks to Dr. Vittorio Frigerio and Dr. Elisa Segnini for accepting my paper and letting me present. And then there're a whole bunch of people who want to read it after I'm done presenting it. And I'm supposed to send it along for peer review. So I might as well have random people on the Internet also peer-review it. 

Keep in mind that this is just the talk and not as well-developed as I would like it to be... I may change the focus for the published piece, depending on feedback. If you see a point you would like to see expanded, let me know! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview: Fabio Fernandes on "We See A Different Frontier" Project

Earlier this month, I posted about The Future Fire's PeerBackers project, "We See A Different Frontier", an anthology that seeks to address a large hole in SFF: the voices of people from formerly-colonized regions. So I caught up with Fabio Fernandes to talk about this project!

Fabio, as you may or may not know, is a Brazilian SFF writer who makes a living as a professor of Creative Writing and translator at a university in São Paulo. I follow him on Twitter, and he blogs at The Cogsmith.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where ARE the Steampunk POC?

I get this question sometimes. Sometimes they're from other POC who grouse about how white steampunk is. Sometimes they're from white people. 

But a lot of times I hear it, though, I feel like I've received a demand, prove you exist, prove that this is even a relevant topic of conversation. Where ARE they? Why are they not nicely paraded right in front of me so I can bask in their coloured state of being? Even on the nicer end of the spectrum, there's a burden of responsibility on me to point people of colour out. 

But I guess what with exposure and all, I should answer the question since I keep getting it. So now, I am going to tell you where the steampunk POC are! Are you ready?

Friday, April 20, 2012

We Interrupt Srs Blog Bzns For Some News!

Not that there has been any serious blog business in a while; I've been learning how to sew, writing essays, finalizing books, and preparing for a move to California. 


That's right, folks, the steampunk postcolonialist will be moving to California. Hopefully not for good, since there are things I'd like to do in Hamilton, and besides which, I'd rather be a permanent resident in Canada than in the States. Anyway, still working on moving details, but in short, I will be starting my PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside, with a four-year fellowship, this fall 2012. I hope have to advance to candidacy by 2014, and my topic of choice will be, what else? Steampunk. This time,  I will push my research from my MA further into studying the mechanisms of neocolonialism in steampunk, in particular the rhetoric of multiculturalism. 

It really all boils down to how to make steampunk not-racist as humanly possible, by addressing racism in steampunk, and how to use steampunk to address racism. Anyway, be assured that I will continue sharing my thoughts and research and academic work with you here on this blog. 


Ann Vandermeer asked me to "update" an essay I did for the WisCon Chronicles, so essentially I re-wrote the thing. My non-fiction essay "From Airships of Imagination to Feet on the Ground" will be sharing a table of contents with looming names such as Garth Nix, Nick Mamatas, Vandana Singh, Bruce Sterling and Cat Valente, more familiar names such as Jeff Vandermeer, N.K. Jemisin and Cherie Priest, as well as dear, dear friends of mine, Amal El-Mohtar, Paolo Chikiamco, J.Y. Yang, Annabeth Leow, and Margaret Killjoy.

Here, have a Table of Contents. Steampunk: Revolution comes out in October 2012, so keep an eye out for it!


Yes! The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter: A Steampunk's Shakespeare Anthology will officially launch on May 13, and we (meaning I and Matt Delman of Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders) will have an official book launch at International Steampunk City, also known as Watch City Festival, in Waltham, Massachusetts, the weekend of May 11 - 13!

Back Pages Books is generously hosting our book launch! Right after Magpie Killjoy's reading of What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower. In a simpler format, the details are:

Date: Sunday, May 13
Time: 1pm
Venue: Back Pages Books, 289 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Come and get your copy and celebrate with us the launch of this Shakespearean steampunk anthology! I will post its cover when it's ready, so come back to check this space, but I am SO FUCKING PLEASED WITH IT I MIGHT BURST.


I will be traveling like an itinerant again this May! Even moreso than usual, really. This is my itinerary, which you may have seen in the Blogmistress page but is now confirmed:

April 28 - 28: Fantastic Narratives Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I will be presenting a paper tentatively titled: "Pangolin Bear?" "Just... Bear": Hybridity in the Construction of Avatar The Last Airbender and Hyphenate Identity.  This isn't what it says on the program, of course. I will be speaking on Session VII: Nature and Cultural Identity, 2.30pm - 4.15pm.

May 4 - 6: Aetherfest, San Antonio, Texas
Yeap. Gonna do Steam Around the World, and sit on a panel about mental illness with the delightful O.M.Grey (hopefully!), share some icewine with Unwoman, room with Steam-Powered editor JoSelle Vanderhooft, refrain from molesting DJ Fact 50, and if things go well, meet Jess Nevins

After this, I plan on hitching a ride up to Waltham with Margaret Killjoy. Maybe Pablo Vasquez and Cameron "Sixpence" Hare will join us, and it will be a van full of steampunk radicals! Perhaps I shall finally stay in those roadside motels I keep seeing on TV and movies! We will be traveling to:

May 11 - 13: International Steampunk City, Waltham 
Ay-Leen the Peacemaker and I will be joining forces once more to deliver Steam Around the World! I will nap in Jake von Slatt's bus! We will launch The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter!

After a break in between wherein my friend Wilma will drive me, Ay-Leen, Pablo and Cameron into New York City, it's off to:

May 18 - 20: Steampunk World's Fair, Piscataway, New Jersey
I will be part of the Steamposium track, and will be delivering Steam Around the World at 10am, Saturday, and hosting Social Issues in Steampunk at 9pm, Saturday. This is especially exciting, because Social Issues will immediately follow Miriam "Steampunk Emma Goldman" Rocek's discussion on Steampunk Political Discussion!

Wilma and I leave on the 21st for a leisurely drive to Wisconsin, where we plan to check out Dr. Evermor's Forevertron! And we finish our tour with:

May 25 - 28: WisCon, Madison, Wisconsin
I will be sitting on two panels at WisCon! Asian Ancestresses, 2.30pm Saturday, at Assembly, and then I hustle to The Many Meta-Elements of Avatar: The Last Airbender, 4pm, Capitol A. Come see! I'm taking it easy because I want to go do some shopping and sit in the hot tub and whatnot. There will also be a movie night in my room at some point, too. We check in on Thursday and leave Tuesday (YAAAAAAYYYY!).

OK this is enough news for the time being. Anymore and I might explode. Anyways, I HOPE TO SEE YOU AT SOME POINT IN THESE TRAVELS! I look forward to hanging out in the deserts or beaches of California with some excellent West Coast steampunks for the next four years! I hope you will buy many of these books that feature me in them!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Project of Interest: "We See A Different Frontier" Peerbacker

Djibril al-Ayad, editor of socio-political SFF zine The Future Fire, and Fabio Fernandes, science fiction writer, some of whom you might know as a Brazilian steampunk writer, have come together to create a new anthology!

The project in question will be a SFF anthology called We See A Different Frontier, and will be about colonialism from the perspectives of the colonized.

In their own words, here is the gap that this project intends to fill:
Colonialism is still a thorn on the side of humankind. Many of the problems of the Third World, for instance, are due to the social-political-economic matrix imposed on its countries by the First World countries since the 17th century (e.g. the manufacture by European powers of arbitrary borders and tribal conflicts in Africa, and then the creation of Arab countries to defeat the Ottoman Empire in WWI). The balance of power is changing in the 21st Century, but it's still essential to look back if we want to truly understand the forces at play in the political and cultural panoramas of Third World countries—and even in countries that hardly can be labeled as Third World, like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).
Much widely distributed science fiction and fantasy is written by American and other Anglophone authors, and treats subjects close to the hearts of straight, white, English-speaking men. There's nothing wrong with this sci-fi itself—we love lots of it—but there's clearly something missing. Having white Anglo cis/hetero/males as (the only) role models is not an option any more. We aim to redress this balance, not only by publishing speculative stories by people with different viewpoints and addressing concerns from outside of the usual area (see World SF), but also by explicitly including fiction that addresses the profound socio-political issues around colonisation and colonialism (see Race in SF). We want to see political stories: not partisan-political, but writing that recognizes the implications for real people and cultures of the events and actions that make up science fictional or fantastic histories, as well as our own history. 
For this anthology we will be looking for stories from the perspective of people and places that are colonized under regimes not of their choosing (in the past, present or even future). We are not primarily interested in war stories, although don’t completely rule them out. We are not interested in stories about a White Man learning the error of his ways; nor parables about alien contact in which the Humans are white anglos, and the Aliens are an analogue for other races. We want stories told from the viewpoint of colonized peoples, with characters who do not necessarily speak English, from authors who have experience of the world outside the First World.
Djibril and Fabio are fundraising so that this can be a professionally-paying anthology. It is exceedingly difficult to publish anthologies cheaply (go ask Matt Delman how he is finagling royalty payments for Doctor Bill Shakes!), and most publishers find them very risky. Given how skewed the market is towards EuroAnglo-centrism in even the short story market, this is a very important decision.

Supporting this project means that you believe in and value the voices of the colonized, that you'd be willing to see them be paid professional rates for telling their stories which too often are edited the hell out of to make them palatable and easy-to-understand.

Please help fill in this gaping hole in SFF, even if just a teaspoonful. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Steampunk POC: Tony Ballard aka Captain Antony LaGrange (Black)

Captain LaGrange,
by Manko Photography
It's that time of month ago, and you know what time it is: Time for another awesome steampunk POC interview! This year we head a little west of the Appalachians to Ohio, home state of the Airship Archon crew. Airship Archon is led by Captain Antony LaGrange, nom-de-plume for Tony Ballard-Smoot (just one letter short of "smooth"). A maker, a model, a cosplayer, and steampunker to the core, Tony has been heading Airship Archon since founding it in 2008.

How did you first get into steampunk? What was your first impression of it?

I was first introduced to Steampunk in 2008 at a event we had here in Columbus called Gothcoming. It was Steampunk-themed and promised to be a good sized event. AT first I was skeptical having only seen pictures on the internet but about a month before the actual event I was at Dragon*Con and got to see Steampunk in the flesh. Groups like Outland Armour, Penny Dreadful Productions and Abney Park really showed the heart of Steampunk. After seeing the aesthetic and innovation of the Steampunk movement I was hooked.

How do you do steampunk? Or how do you steampunk or how do you participate in steampunk? Or what steampunk media do you do (lit, fashion, events)?

I run the Columbus Ohio group the Airship Archon, I try to promote and inspire the Steampunk community through photography, modeling, fashion and a slew of other things. I’m also a panelist at multiple conventions talking and leading discussions on various topics. I Steampunk through the way I act, dress and live.