Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bamboos and Coconuts

My fab friend, Ay-Leen has a liking for the term "bamboopunk", to refer to steampunk set in East Asian countries like China, where bamboo is plentiful. In further consideration, this is feasible, because the bamboo is extremely useful and it's possible to attain a level of industrialization using water technology supported by bamboo architecture. As stereotypical as it sounds to associate bamboo with China, it does make some sense, judging what resources are available to us.

(By the way, while technically bamboo is a grass, BAMBOO IS A TREE, OKAY. Nobody calls it the "bamboo grass", they call it "bamboo tree". I was at my uncle's place recently and he showed me a book called "Things Chinese" written by some white dude, and the authour very patronizingly said, "the Chinese do not recognize the bamboo as a grass." Well of course not, because nobody calls it "the bamboo grass", and besides which, if you think about grass, it doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence that this plant can, in fact, hold up your house.)

I told this to my cousins yesterday when I went to visit (cousins I don't see often enough; my dad's elder brother's kids, who are geniuses and smarter than me), and one of them said, "but what about the coconut tree?? It's the Tree of a Thousand Uses!" Bantering, we surmised that fuel, wood, architecture, punchcard tech and the like could possibly be supported with coconut trees. I personally would supplement this tech with bamboo myself.

Because the -punk label is overused to the point of ridiculousness, with people taking it too seriously (sorry you got caught in the trap, dieselpunk), I am not going to demean this new idea with the term "coconutpunk". (My friend Tariq wants to use "kelapank" - kelapa (Malay) + punk - but I will publicly veto this idea outright.)

(Except in certain Nusantaran circles.)

What local, region-specific resources have you guys been considering lately for your steampunk?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not A Review: Dream of Perpetual Motion, by Dexter Palmer

I bought this for the shiny cover. Yes, I should be ashamed of myself for judging a book by its cover. But whatever, I picked it up a few times, and it didn't really do anything for me, until I was flying home to Malaysia and decided to read it for real since I was going to be on an airplane for forever anyway (13 hours flying is nothing to sneeze at, ya'll).

Peoplez, I cannot even begin to dissect how much this book pisses me off on a deeper level. I tweeted, early on, "Dear Post Modernism, this is the era of "from margin to center", not "from warbling subconsciousness to drunken lips". I also said to Mike Perschon, "I kinda shut my brain off at 'This is a magical stalk of celery' in Harry's dream sequence and am predicting a really, really hard time getting through this book. Maybe because I'm still in genre fic mode, not litfic mode." I was coming offa Boneshaker and Perdido Street Station, fyi, this is how long it took for me to get started on talking about this book.

You want an actual non-rage-y engagement with this? Here is Mike's.

So, I was going to write this review and be all serious and analytical about it, but ended up with incoherent rage about it, and proceeded to write fanfic instead. Because this story? Is all about fucked up people fucking each other up in order to fuck themselves up even more. There. I said it. Quote at will. And while telling Ay-Leen all about my fanfic, I degenerated instead into ranting about the book. Because I still cannot process this book in a mature, professional manner, you will have to satisfy for my rage, copied-pasted from my chat, typos included.

Under the cut so you can skip it if you don't want to read it. Spoilers ahoy.