Friday, December 7, 2012

Steampunk POC: Beth Aileen Dillon (Anishinaabe)

It's the first Friday of the month! And I have another wonderful interview with a steampunk of colour to share this month after a couple of months of brain-gone-somewhere! 

This month, we head back to the Pacific Northwest to Portland, again, where resides Beth Aileen Dillon, Anishinaabe Mètis, who is currently a PhD student in the Interactive Arts and Technology program at Simon Fraser University, and a transmedia artist. She's been featured here before, when she released her short video The Path Without End, in which she uses everyday objects and materials to create an animated film that re-tells the story of a child that is the offspring between an Anishinaabe and Moon Person. Her latest work is The Nature of the Snake which premiered at the most recent imagiNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. In it, she uses silhouettes and cosmic imagery to tell the story of a snake and a girl. Also, she has given me permission to feature her latest painting, "The River of Star Beings" (to the right!).

Beth Aileen's approach to steampunk is really unique compared to most of us out there; we talk about using everyday objects for creating beautiful things, and she takes it to the nth degree and uses them for storytelling. Steampunks can talk a good game about bringing back old stories of adventure, and she brings forward a storytelling tradition of her people

Now, onto questions!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Steampunk: Revolution is now out!

So if you haven't heard the news, which I'm sure you have, the third Steampunk anthology from Tachyon Publications, edited by Ann Vandermeer, titled and themed Revolution, came out December 1st!

There are some big names and small names and new names and old names in this anthology. I'm pleased to have a non-fiction essay sandwiched in between Amal El-Mohtar and Magpie Killjoy. You can find the full TOC here. To buy this illustrious book, check out Tachyon Publications' website. If you are an Amazon sucker, it's available there too, and even Barnes & Noble! Ay-Leen the Peacemaker wrote us a very nice review over at Tor, and I am given to understand that reviewer copies are still available if you are a book reviewer. 

I hope you enjoy my offering, entitled "From Airships of Imagination to Feet on the Ground." I'm also incredibly excited that Paolo Chikiamco's "On Wooden Wings" made it in as well! The Southeast Asian representation in this anthology is stronger than it was in Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, and that is just as well! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Across the world there are ceremonies to remember the loss of trans* lives across the globe, recitations of their names so we don't forget who they were and how they died. 

Among our ranks in steampunk, we have several transgender individuals who find the fluidity of barriers in our little subculture very attractive, not to mention useful. Gender-bending is not new for us; it's a form of play for many of us. 

But let's not forget that for some of us, this isn't play, but the most straightforward expression of who are are. 

That for some of us, being honest means exposure to prejudice, discrimination and violence. And that people die for this honesty. 

On this day that our trans members of the steampunk community (if indeed we have a singular community) remember their dead, it behooves those of us who are cis to be more careful for and of our trans living, t make sure our spaces are safe, and if we are so inclined to be respectful of each other, then we mustn't only do it in steampunk spaces, but in all spaces beyond as well. 

I've always believed in the transformative power of steampunks to change the present by learning from the past, mostly in racial terms but I know it is also applicable other ways. It is especially so as many of the dead remembered today are Women of Colour. 

Today for Transgender Day of Remembrance, the names of the dead, who are gone through and because of violence and pain, will roll across tongues and into sound, the tolling bells of our failure to protect them and change the world into something less violent for them. We must do everything we can to make sure the ones who are our living do not join these lists. 

Otherwise we must admit that our play means nothing, and our claim to community is empty and worthless since we cannot recognize each other's humanity, nor our responsibilities to protect each other from harm.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not Yet a Con Report

This is a placeholder post to let you know I am back and trying to catch up on work, but there will definitely be a con report this weekend to let you know how SteamCon went! Thanks everyone for coming to panels and generating some good discussion, even those of you I had to shut down for whatever reason. Thanks for popping by the parties and for filling our tip jar. And thanks for not making fun of me that last day when I could barely function. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Steampunk Postcolonialist at SteamCon

Gentlefolk, it is my pleasure to announce that I will be attending SteamCon IV this October 26 - 28, with a full list of panels on which I appear to be the only one, so let's just say I will be hosting a wide array of discussions, and YOU, dear audience, are cordially invited to be my panelists. You are all welcome to come sit in and listen, but I will not be doing the bulk of the talking. These aren't really subjects I want to claim any expertise in; these are questions that have been troubling me, so I'm reaching out to ya'll to share your thoughts.

I am also hosting parties on the official party floor! There will be limited alcohol, as most people I know don't do that kind of thing, but I will prepare a punch bowl and tea. (My idea of "punch bowl" happens to be "throw whatever juice or soft drink seems appropriate for the moment into a bowl" so, uh, yeah.) Feel free to bring in any such beverages as you please, or even donate juice or soda to the punch bowl, although if you're bringing in alcohol, please let me know so I can make sure we're not feeding the kids the wrong thing.

FRIDAY I will kick off with Steampunk Represent! in Regency B from 5pm - 6pm:
There are many assumptions about steampunk made by people who aren't part of the scene and barely even pay attention to us: steampunk glorifies empire; steampunk is just a new fashion; steampunk books don't exist; steampunk cons are just Ren Fairs. What assumptions do you come across the most? How are they true or wrong? What do you think gives outsiders this impression, and how can we represent steampunk in all its diversity?

I will be joined by James Carrott, cultural historian, and Thomas Willeford of Brute Force Leather for this panel. You may know James Carrott for his work on Vintage Tomorrows documentary and accompanying book. These dudes tend to have a lot to say so I will be keeping time and making sure to call on audience members, so please do not hesitate to put your hand up if you have something to say.

In the evening, I will also host Steampunks Of Colour Unite! Yes, an official Silver Goggles party! Come join  me in creating a truly multiracial space in the convention. Nivi Hicks will have her photo booth set up so we can document as many POC attendees as possible and prove to the world that steampunk is more diverse than it looks from the outside. This is also a Carl Brandon Society benefit: if you don't know who the Carl Brandon Society are, do come and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about them! I will also have membership forms for people interested in joining or donating to the Carl Brandon Society.

Steampunks of Colour, Unite! will be a Safe Space. It is meant to be a POC-centric space. Non-POC allies are welcome, but shouldn't expect to be catered to: if I hear your ass is being argumentative and problematic and you make any of the POC attendees uncomfortable, I will personally throw you out.

SATURDAY! Although I don't have the wonderful JoSelle Vanderhooft and O.M.Grey with me this time, I am bringing It's Mad Science!: Mental Illness in Steampunk to the SteamCon audience in the same room, Regency B, from 9am - 10am:
Mad scientists are a staple in the pulp fiction that eventually led to steampunk, but perceptions of the mad scientist have changed over the years. Formerly tragic figures or evil blasphemers, they are now celebrated as brilliant eccentrics. How does the figure of the mad scientist reflect or gloss over attitudes towards mental illness and neuro-diversity? We'll talk about who gets called a mad scientist, who doesn't, what constitutes madness and genius, and how that's changed over the years.

 God knows why they've given me such an unholy time of day for it, but I'm not complaining, because I'm one of those mad ones who actually like the mornings. I will be joined by Julie Hoehn, who will be presenting on mental illness and asylums in the Victorian era. I have no idea who she is but I look forward to meeting her! 

Envisioning A Better Steam Society: Social Issues in Steampunk makes a comeback! In the Auditorium, from 2pm - 4pm:
Come discuss thoughts about finding aesthetic inspiration in a historical era rife with sexism, racism and classist thinking in this roundtable! Can the steampunk subculture come to terms with its problematic past, or are we just repeating history, except with ray guns? Together with the audience, we hope to engage in an open dialogue about whether steampunk confronts or condones the historical ideas behind its inspiration, how nineteenth century thinking is re-interpreted in the present day, and what makes steampunk actually “punk.”

Yes, we do get a full two hours in the afternoon to natter all we want on this issue! Now, the only problem is that the auditorium isn't conducive to creating a roundtable, so it'll be difficult for the usual circle sit-down, but we'll manage. I will facilitate discussion, and everybody else gets to talk. We've done it before; we can do it again. 

After that, go have a nap, rest up, and then join us later in the evening for FIREBRANDS! The Radical Steampunk Party in the party room! If there are conversational threads you'd like to pick up on from Envisioning, come continue them with us. If not, feel free to just come and shoot the shit with steampunk's finest hearts and minds. I'll be in and out because of the concert, but overall, it'll be a very chill party.

On SUNDAY, I end SteamCon with Art, Profit & Capitalism In Steampunk in Regency B, at 11am -12pm.
The Industrial Revolution was the time period where capitalism first began to take hold. Now, the steampunk aesthetic is a new market commodity, and steampunks are a fresh market to tap into. How does this affect the tensions between artists who have to make a living and folks who do it for fun? What is the place of profit in a community that supposedly values re-engineering old things? How can we support our favorite artists, makers and musicians without putting ourselves and themselves out of pocket?

I'm trying very hard to present panel suggestions that ask some difficult questions that I can engage conversation with, rather than stuff that have clear-cut answers and are about info-dumping. There are no absolute answers, and hopefully you'll find the discussions useful to you in the future.

So, come hang out! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Racist Things Steampunks Are Not Immune To: Silent Tolerance of Racism

Lately we've been seeing a huge boom in steampunk. I think we can agree with this; we can find books on steampunk, we have more steampunk conventions this year than three years ago (possibly over 200% more), and we see steampunk costumes at regular cons too. I've met a lot of people who enjoy steampunk's newfound popularity. Yay, we're going mainstream. Woo. 

Now, I'm not sure if anyone is keeping receipts, but we have a community problem, in which certain personalities in steampunk have become somehow representative of the best in steampunk, mostly because they're smart enough to invest in the ignorance of newcomers to the scene, making them fans while covering up their tracks as they alienate other members of the subculture.

People who have issue with Evelyn Kriete, you know what I mean. 

But it's not fair to keep ragging only on Evelyn, who, as poisonous as she has been to the community, really has built her steampunk career on facilitating a variety of events in steampunk. And when she's criticised, she doesn't spend a whole lot of time creating roundabout arguments defending herself that just gets worse and worse and worse. (I've seen her do this; it gets more and more confusing and less logical, but that's pretty par for the course of defensive people.)

Robert Brown of Abney Park, though, does. 

Now, this is a blog dedicated to anti-racism, so while I understand the public outcry about Evelyn deleting entire lists on GoodReads as a Terrible Thing To Do, I'm hella unsympathetic that this is going to "make steampunk look bad" when Robert Brown has proved himself a patent racist, not once, but twice, and there was nary a murmur. I've given up on responding to every single racist thing out there, and taken to cultivating alternative spaces instead, because that's a much more fruitful use of my time

A while back, "Captian" Robert deleted a fan image off his Facebook wall. Why delete this fan image, a tribute from El Investigador, Mexico's first steampunk magazine? Because it had writing on it. In Spanish. In Robert Brown's memorable words, "If I can't read it, it's spam."

Now I don't know about you but there are a lot of things I can read, and is spam. There are a lot of things I can read, and it's patent rubbish. There're a lot of things I can read, and it is misleading racist vitriol. There are a lot of things I can read, and it's sexist tirades. 

And then there are things I cannot read. 

Like poetry in the mother tongue I have lost to colonialism.

Like the bilingual/multi-dialect work of Gloria Anzaldua articulating a borderlands identity. 

Like revolutionary literature across Latin America and Europe.

Like Jacques Derrida untranslated. 

There's a superb ethnocentrism in insisting in that your environment can only be Anglo, that it must always cater to you, and that you will not only refuse to endorse something to the contrary, something you deem foreign, but also to put it down, insult it as "spam." 

Backed with the institutional power, privilege and shied from backlash that is a benefit of the white supremacist system of North America, to dismiss something from a fan that does not suit your ethnocentrist world-view is a kind of everyday racism. 

It's so common I only had an eyeroll when it happened. 

Then there was the arguments. And the fans coming to his defense. And then the fans going all YAY ROBERT THAT'S RIGHT SPEAK ENGLISH IF YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THIS COUNTRY. 

After it became clear what a racist fiasco it was turning out to be, good ol' Captian Robert started deleting things off Facebook. And he's never been called to account for it since then. Abney Park still got to play to large crowds at Steamstock. Robert Brown is still selling albums.

Quite unlike Evelyn Kriete's funnelling fans into steampunk, whereby her methods rely on the genuine curiousity of new steampunk fans, Robert Brown's drawing in of new steampunk fans relies on the consumerist impulse to find new things to like, new music to enjoy in self-centered vicarity.


This does not mean that Abney Park fans stay in that place of consumerist fetishism; it explains why Robert Brown is never called to account for his actions: on the principle that you can separate the work from the artist, that the support for the art in no way reflects on support for the artist's actions, especially if fans of the art are ignorant of the artist's essential flaws. 

Now, I believe that it is possible to take a work of art on its own. To appreciate how it has been put together as it is. To void it of its context entirely, and come to a value judgement based on this. This is how a lot of us are taught to approach art, and I think it's necessary to be able to do this. 

Nonetheless, this approach is how we allow racists in our midst, accepting their presences as somehow valuable because of the work they produce. 


Recently, a young fan of Abney Park wrote to Robert Brown. Why? Because in an Abney Park song (as in many steampunk songs, sadly), the word "gypsy", a common slur, so common so few people recognize it as a slur, comes up. 

I'm going to cross-post excerpts of a writeup tainopunk put on Tumblr, because it's important to hear in her words. I encourage you to go over and read the whole thing:

As many Abney Park fans are aware, the word “Gypsy” comes up in the song “End of Days.”
                               Nomadic tribes are the last of man
                               Pulling caravans across the land
                               Gypsy wives hold their children tight
                               As the new super-power howls through the night!
Until recently, however, it was not brought to Abney Park’s attention that the word “Gypsy,” when used by a non-Roma or non-Romani individual, is an offensive slur at worst and an unkind, obnoxious stereotype at best. I have a Rroma friend who is very uncomfortable attending steampunk concerts or conventions, due to the large amount of stereotyping that goes on towards Romani culture in the steampunk commmunity. Hearing this song was icing on the cake for her - after the first time she heard it, she started crying and tearfully swore she would not have anything more to do with steampunk. I felt awful. 
So, I sent a very polite e-mail to Robert Brown, their lead singer/songwriter. 
I expected benevolent indifference or dismissive “Sorry you were offended” responses, honestly. But what I got was much, much worse.  
Robert Brown replied very angrily and aggressively, doing what many white people do when asked to stop doing something culturally insensitive: he personalized it. He made it all about himself, telling me how I couldn’t judge him or his life, derailing me by talking about my sources and his experiences, and calling the Roma friend who I have (on whose behalf the email was sent) a “distant relation” who was “looking for attention.”  
(Interestingly enough, watch out for RB judging people later - he seems to do it a lot, although of course no one is allowed to do it to him.) 
I’m ashamed of what I did next. 
I backpedaled and apologized. I really admire(d) this guy, and did not want him to be angry with me. I’m so disappointed with myself for it now, but that’s what I did. He didn’t accept the apology, just said “I just think it means ‘nomad’ so it’s fine for me to use it right.” 
I was willing to let it slide. I miserably told my Roma friend (who is the sweetest, kindest person who told me I had done my best, when I hadn’t) I had failed, and I wasn’t going to go the extra mile to find out if Robert Brown, my former idol, sucked just as much as a ton of other white people. 
Unfortunately, he proved it to me himself. 
A week later, [after I’d let the matter drop, after apologizing, and after hearing no further about it from him] he made this little gem of a story in one of his posts:
One of my friends moved in for a call out, after which he called her a troll and a “suburban white kid with an adopted cause,” deleted and blocked her, and eventually deleted the entire post itself – something the good Captain seems fond of doing, as he’s deleted other posts that caused controversy.
Problems with this post:
  • Words don’t come in and out of fashion like the Captain seems to think they do - Gypsy has been used as a slur for a really really long time. No one suddenly decided it’s a bad word to use.
  • Up til now, I had done nothing to indicate to him that he was a racist. I still don’t even think he’s a racist, I just think he’s a privileged jerk.
  • He acts like that because he’s been to Istanbul and collected a few CDs, he knows everything about “Gypsy culture” (lolwhut!?) and he has a right to use this word.
  • He’s lying (to his fans definitely, and maybe to himself) about the content/tone of my initial e-mail
  • Golgol Bordello is on record as being disliked by a lot of Romani/Roma folk because they use the “Gypsy” look and culture (Romani) to make money. Their lead singer is 1/4 Romani. 
 But Santa Maria! I’d love to be the angry, demanding hag of a letter-writer Robert Brown makes me out to be. But since I don’t think I am, I’ll present the facts to the public – that’s right, folks. Fans ands haters alike, here are the emails Robert Brown and I exchanged, for your viewing enjoyment.

This is the first email tainopunk sent, so you can judge for yourself whether Robert Brown's response was warranted:

Robert Brown's response:

So… you’re allowed to use the word “gypsy” however you mean it, but when it means something offensive to someone else, they’re “too caught up in semantics”? And what about that bit “in the US”? That’s part of the problem - people acting like Roma/Romani people are “gypsies” who chill in caravans in Eastern Europe all the time and dance and steal and wear long skirts or whatever. They’re not. They’re real people, with jobs and houses and cars and kids and computers.
And as tainopunk mulled over how to respond, Robert Brown further escalated:


I want to know why Evelyn Kriete's obnoxious behaviour gets enough hate that con chairs will write open letters to the steampunk fandom calling to excise her from the community, while the steampunk community at large is silent when Robert Brown of Abney Park is openly racist and remains a dominant gateway for new steampunk fans

Is it because Evelyn Kriete is just an organizer and promoter, while Robert Brown is ~an artist~? 
IMPLICATION: That the people working behind the scenes are not as important as the people working on the stage to provide entertainment.

Is it because Evelyn Kriete is a woman while Robert Brown is a cis dudely dude? 
IMPLICATION: Steampunk values its male idols more than its women workers (as demonstrated; Evelyn does work for the steampunk community).

Is it because Evelyn Kriete is a single woman on disability benefits while Robert Brown is a hardworking man of the earth supporting his family through his art?
IMPLICATION: Steampunks do not value people who do not or cannot conform to the nuclear family ideal. Steampunks value art over addressing the pain that racists cause.

Is it because Evelyn Kriete's obnoxious behaviour leaves a longer impression on other organizers, while Robert Brown's racism is just an Internet thing?
IMPLICATION: Steampunks are willing to allow online expressions of racism fly under the radar, as long as it doesn't make them feel like crap offline (but People of Colour affected by racism, well that has no bearing on business whatsoever!).

Is it because either way, calling him out, talking about how racist he is, makes steampunk look worse than it already does? Believe me, I understand; I'm pretty fucking sick of having to defend steampunk from people lampooning it as a subgenre of imperialists and white supremacists. But this is unfair because then many minorities and I also have to deal with the fact that within the community there are imperialists and white supremacists!
IMPLICATION: Steampunks are too busy trying to keep looking good than actually being good.

So this is a call-out. Not of Robert Brown because that's a waste of time; he's demonstrated more than once an inability to engage with any sense of empathy and understanding why he's a goddamn problem. No. Robert Brown's racism is a symptom, not a cause. 

This is a call-out of the steampunk community that will allow this kind of racism to stand.

This is a call-out of the steampunk community that refuses to discuss openly the myriad ways racism manifests in the subculture.

This is a call-out of the steampunk community that remains silent in the face of open racism. 

This is a call-out of the subculture I love and of the community I participate in even though it is ever so alienating every passing year. 

And seriously, like, don't talk to me right now unless you've read this whole list of links because I've just had a deeply unpleasant long conversation with someone I respect about certain assumptions of creative/artistic freedom completely separate from acts of racism and I really do not need to hear about how you're Not A Racist so if you find yourself spouting this, STOP. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spanish-language Links of Interest: Antologia Retrofuturisme and Aristofagia

So, two awesome things! Araceli Rodriguez of the Mexican steampunk magazine Mercenarios de DIOS pinged me to have me expect the upcoming anthology Planes B: Antologia Retrofuturisme! With an all-woman design crew, Mercenarios de DIOS has produced an anthology featuring Latin@ writers, with special guest Jeff Vandermeer (his story "Fixing Hanover" has been translated for this anthology).

Secondly, on Steampunk Chile's Twitter feed was this link to Artefactum Vapore's song Aristofagia on SoundCloud, complete with lyrics for you to sing along. Further clicking leads to their previous track Victoria

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Link of Interest: Cosplaying James Ng's Imperial Sheriff

Over at Beyond Victoriana, the Steampunk Panda decided to make his debut into cosplay with an ambitious project: James Ng's Imperial Sheriff

I don't know why anyone would want to start off in steampunk with this much work, but if you got the ovaries for it, go for it, you know? Did he succeed? Well, pop on over to read his essay and check out the pictures, and judge for yourself! It is good to see more Asian dudes in steampunk actually being Asian.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Steampunk Postcolonialist Goes Back To School

And it's for the long-haul, folks. If you haven't heard me bitching about moving on Twitter, whinging about the desert heat, and other assorted complaints, the news is this:

In about a week I'll begin my PhD at the University of California, Riverside, in the Comparative Literature department. As a bit of shameless self-promotion, ya'll should pick up Steampunk III: Revolution, edited by Ann Vandermeer, for my essay which will probably act as my prospectus for my dissertation. My name is already on the list of current graduate students, and I'm going to begin the courtship dance search for committee members soon enough,

I'm... not sure what this will mean for this blog. There's been a long silence (which admittedly is not exactly abnormal) because I've been so stressed about moving I've basically been taking Fukitol pills towards a lot of stuff. Which kinda sucks for this blog because there have been a ton of things I owe it: a con report on Steampunk World's Fair, a post on Hugo (which I watched while I sat in Emirates' Business Class, and the only real takeaway I have from the experience is how much I want to eat the rich), a rant on passive racism that's been percolating, interviews with some cool people I met while I was home in Malaysia, and more steampunk POC interviews (yes this is an admission that there may not be another steampunk POC interview next month, sorry). 

I hope to be able to share with you thoughts on things I study and learn and begin to articulate for the next two years as I muddle through coursework, the quarter system, and having to write papers every three months (WHAT THE HELL).

Unfortunately, this means I'm out of the con circuit for a while, especially for the East Coast cons. I'm shooting for SteamCon this year (more to hang out with my cousin, host parties, and watch Nate Johnstone than anything else) and next year, Salt City Steam Fest and PDX GearCon, but other than that, I don't foresee myself finding the time, especially for all the spring conventions (because the quarter system is ridiculous). 

Nonetheless, I encourage emails! Even if I don't respond to you immediately, I'd still like to hear from you and have conversations, especially on the art production and business side of our communities. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Steampunk POC: Jeannette Ng (Chinese)

Jeannette Ng and the Steampunk Coat
It's July! It's the first Friday of the month! You know what that means: another steampunk POC feature interview! This month, we hike across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom... or across the Pacific to Hong Kong, depending on where she is this time, to meet Jeannette Ng, the Costume Mercenary! Jeannette is the genius behind my steampunk magistrate costume, and many others, such as this fantastic steampunk coat. I love exchanging emails with Jeannette; she is always thoughtful, and thoughtfulness is sometimes accompanied by lengthy paragraphs. She is also the originator of the term "ricepunk" which I rather like

Jeannette is an active LARPer and works with Character I highly recommend commissioning something from her!

Without further ado, Jeannette Ng! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Link: Review of Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer

A year ago I started seeing a bit of hype for Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer, which purported to be a "Japanese steampunk novel". I even read a vomit-inducing post from the author himself babbling about how awesome multiculturalism is for steampunk and how he was inspired by James Ng's art to write his novel ('cept, um, hello? China is not Japan?).

After my experiences reading the Windup Girl and the Peshawar Lancers, I'm pretty fuckin' burnt out on white authors writing non-white stories unless they've been critically vetted by people I trust.

So, instead of slogging through what promises to be a steaming pile o' shit masquerading as actual hot steam that makes the world go 'round, I shall instead link to someone else who intrepidly read the book and said everything I pretty much would have said if I had been the one to read it:

I'll admit, I was a little leery of Stormdancer from the start - Japanese steampunk sounds cool, but coming from a white western author, the chances of problematic weeaboo fuckery are high. Exoticization. Romanticization. Plain old appropriation. Yet for some reason, I didn't really peg Stormdancer as a weeaboo outing. I don't know why. There was no good reason, and yet, I expected Kristoff to be a scholar of some sort, or at least, to do some very in-depth, scholarly research, borne of a deep interest in, and respect for, Japanese culture. And while even that could have also potentially yielded something problematic, at least it would have been sincere. What I thoroughly did NOT expect to get was a book informed by fucking Wikipedia and anime, set in Japan for the sake of novelty. That came as a genuine shock. And a dramatic rise in blood pressure. WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK? 
The thing is, that Wikipedia part? You can kinda tell. I mean, the first hundred pages or so of Stormdancer, basically until the airship crashes, are a chore to wade through, mostly because of the Wikipedia-esque info dumps. It takes almost exactly half of those pages to make any progress on the plot. The first fifty are just about showing off the world and detailing every little aspect of it, which is why it takes like twelve paragraphs for Yukiko and her father to walk down a street: we have to hear about the architecture, detail the clothing being worn (because we're using Japanese terms here, and not many readers will know offhand what a fucking hakama looks like), and explain the exact geographical setting, right down to which rivers cross where, and the ~exotic smells~ in the air, even though none of it is actually relevant to anything that's going on at the moment. I understand wanting to set the scene and acquaint readers with the world, but Jesus Herbet Christ, get on with it already. Work this stuff in to the action. Make me not want to put the book down out of sheer boredom. I mean, I haven't even gotten the chance to get angry yet.
Aside from the obvious appropriativeness of the text, it also sounds like Eurocentrism got married to Straight Dude Sexism and had a baby in the form of incompetent writing.

I don't care if you're writing a secondary world or an alternate history. If you can't manage basics right, you probably shouldn't be writing this story at all. Maybe I shouldn't blame Jay Kristoff too much; maybe being a weaboo who cannot tell when he is being a racist is an easy trap to fall into. But I will come down hard on his agent and editors who thought this racist dreck was worth publishing, because these people are supposed to be a bit more discerning (but time and again, it's been proven that many privileged folks are not very discerning when it comes to issues of justice, so....).

As for bloggers who helped this guy promote, a couple of whom are people I like, I hope you will be more discriminating in the future.

h/t to Requires Hate for the link!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Steampunk POC: Mrs. Mary Lou Sullivan (Southern Pomo)

Mary Lou Sullivan, PDX resident,
co-founder of the Rose City Steampunks
It's the first Friday of the month! And you know what that means... another steampunk POC interview! I'm happy to be interviewing a thoughtful lady I met last year at PDX GearCon. When I first met her, I didn't even know to code her as POC because you know how it is with some people where you just don't know and omg it might be offensive to ask?? and so I just didn't count her in, until she set me straight! And she's expressed to me the frustration of being a Native American, whereby people think she's Italian or something that's not Native American.

When I interviewed her, she gave me "just a few facts to round out the picture - I was born in Sebastopol, CA on May 2, 1957.  I grew up and lived the first 47 years of my life in Sonoma Co., CA, which is our historical tribal territory.  I have two children and three grandchildren, all of whom are enrolled tribal members. I am an enrolled member of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.  I currently live in Portland, Oregon, where I work as a family therapist for NARA Northwest (Native American Rehabilitation Association).  I have a BA in English Literature and an MA in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, CA. I am happily married to my husband of 16 years, Hal Sullivan, who is tolerant of my whimsies."

Onward to candidness and free education under the cut!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Con Report: Watch City Festival, Waltham

Here we are, stop #2 on my con tour: Watch City Festival! Watch City Festival is held by the actual town of Waltham, hosted by the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation. Last year, it was called International Steampunk City, but this year, they renamed the event to tie it even closer to the city's history. Which I think is a pretty good thing! Steampunk is so awesome because of its specificities and ties to real history.

I could tell you about the conceit of Watch City being a parallel dimension linked to our planet for the weekend, but that's not as interesting to me as the fact that Watch City is a fundraiser for the Charles River Museum, which was flooded about three years ago. Monies raised from WCF go to restoring all the stuff in the museum. Which, you know, is pretty cool. Apologies for the dastardly lack of pictures in the following post.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Permission And White Writers

Because I have received this question for like the hundredth time, and thought I would dedicate an entire post answering the question, "does this mean we're not allowed to write outside our ethnicity?"


In order to do so, you need to file an application for a License to Multicultural Writing with your local Department of Multiculturalism. This department is either provincial or federal, depending on your country. Canada and the US, sharing very similar multicultural histories, share the same department which is on federal level, several branches across the two countries. 

You will need to first fill out the MC-01 form, which is a general license form. (The fee for this general license is USD$50.) Then you need to fill out MC-1837 (which is specifically the license for Steampunk: Multicultural). If you are creating a steampunk work specifically about non-white peoples, you will need MC-3100(BC). YOU MUST FILL OUT AND SUBMIT BOTH FORMS TOGETHER. Failure to do so will result in unnecessarily prolonged processing. 

Licensing for each multicultural work you aim to produce depends on the region you write about; check with your countries' department on the rate. As a general rule, rates will depend on how long your country has been involved with said country; the longer your country has colonized this particular culture, the cheaper the licenses will be. However, if you are of Western European descent, these rates can often be forgiven and you will get a 75% discount.

Processing will take at least 6 months, and it goes through several committees of People of Colour and Ethnic Representatives from the culture you are applying to write about. 90% of the time you will be asked to produce samples of the work you seek licensing for, especially if you are a new media creator. Approval is not guaranteed. It may be years before you are finally approved. Please be patient as there are many applicants to be processed--up to 100 million a year! 

In the United States, if your work is egregiously racist, you will be impounded for a fine of $50 - $50,000, to be determined by a Jury of Disapproving Negros. They may also involve representatives of NMNAs (Non-Mascot Native Americans). If your work features poverty porn of Africa, Side-Eyeing African Children will be allowed to take arbitrary votes on the extent of your fine. If your work features cultures of East Asian extract, Inscrutable Orientals, from Section YP-1882, will place final call on the result of your work.

These are only a few sections of the entire Department of Multiculturalism division that processes these applications. If a certain section is not available close to you, your application will be forwarded to another branch that has the relevant Ethnic Representatives. To save yourself time, research where the Ethnic Representatives relevant to your work are before applying, and submit your application to that particular branch.

You get the idea. Now go write. And don't quit your day job.

We Interrupt Srs Bog Bzns to Bring You Twitter Feuds

Ladies, gentlemen, sweet non-binaries.

Tonight, this happened:

Let me tell you how this came about.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Link of Interest: "On Supertrees, Neocolonialism and Globalization"

Via Annabeth Leow Hui Min (whose short story is the opener for the Singaporean steampunk anthology The Steampowered Globe), I read this interesting essay exploring the nuances of Singapore's new trend on "supertrees," its ties to the globalization rhetoric of how cosmopolitanism looks like, and how it reflects a neocolonial undercurrent by attempting to be representative but still viewing Singapore through a specific, colonizer lens, offering up the little island for consumption by a Western Gaze, and using these Eurocentric standards to measure success.

Consider how there are 225,000 species of plants in the new Gardens, the vast majority of which were chosen because they were “not commonly found in Singapore.” In essence, the Gardens represent an attempt to mimic globalization in the specific geographical location of Singapore as it strives, above all else, to be a hub of transnational capital and investments. What exactly were the costs in terms of the carbon footprint to carefully ship all these plants to Singapore? Further, like colonial botanic gardens of old, the Gardens are a vision of governmental mastery over nature, dictated by planners, scientists, botanists and capital. They are experimental spaces for technology and environment modification, and attempts to combat the equatorial climate of Singapore.
These omissions seem less grave when we consider how the larger human and environmental costs of the project might be obscured as well. We might do well to reflect on who exactly was doing the heavy lifting in the transformation of site that did not have roads, drains, sewers or electricity. In a 30 June 2012 Straits Times article, the chief executive of the Gardens, Dr. Tan Wee Kiat reveals that of the $1 billion spent on the gardens, 80 percent went to the infrastructure works while the 700,000 plants were less than 20 percent of the budget. While we might assume that some of the money that went infrastructure went into labour, I would argue that this is optimistic at best. Consider another article: “Injured worker goes home, loses 13 kg in 7 months” [Footnote 3] this time by the organization Transient Workers Count Too, dated April 2012. This article chronicles the misfortunes of Asad who was injured while commuting to the work site at Gardens by the Bay. His painful injuries aside, Asad’s revelations of his working conditions makes us question the sustainability and humanity of relying and exploiting foreign labour. According to the article, Asad worked 24 hours every other day in May and April 2011 for $1,600 a month. What exactly were the working conditions for the 1,000 workers then, who were reportedly working “around the clock” to ensure that the Gardens could have their official opening without a hitch? What kinds of human costs are justified here?
One of the UK-based designers responsible for Gardens on the Bay had a memorable quip in the promotional video, saying “On a plate, this is what Singapore is about.” While I am not against Singapore becoming a more cosmopolitan and diverse place, we need to ask some hard questions as well: Do we need to be served up on “a plate”? Who defines and decides “what Singapore is about”? Is it a breathlessly instant garden, planned to exploit the tourist market, built on occasionally shaky reclaimed land without much regard to the foreign labourers’ welfare or the decadence of spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on importing plants from all over the world? When we are simplified and contained “on a plate”, what other stories and issues are obscured from this self-presentation? Could we have a more honest and fair spatial relationship with this land that we call our home?
Read the rest of the essay at Yawning Bread, or click the link below to read my thoughts on how it relates to steampunk.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Steampunk POC: Connie Chen (Chinese-Australian)

The very dapper Connie Chen
Off we go to Down Under again! The last Aussie I interviewed was Stephanie Lai, a writer, and now we have a completely different angle to Aussie steampunk, from Connie Chen, local steampunk photographer for the Melbourne scene! Connie does so many things, I never quite know what she's up to. I definitely know she's an artist of some sort, and also does stuff in law. (The specifics escape me; things on LJ tend to be in one ear, out the other for me these days.)

How do you do steampunk?

I used to be a lot more active in the scene, but Life has been increasingly busy so recently it's taken a backburner to my career and my other creative projects. I used to be moderately active on various Livejournal communities and the Brass Goggles forums a while back. In my local scene I'd volunteer to help out with events and projects, as well as attending and socialising at the various events that were organised. For a little while I was known as the amateur photographer since I'd always be taking a lot of photos, and that was actually a great way to start a conversation with people.

How did you come to steampunk? What were your first impressions of it?

I can't remember exactly when I stumbled across the term and the community, but at the time I was involved with a lot of DIY and crafting. I was interested in reusing discarded and scrap materials to make new, functional objects, and naturally I became really interested in steampunk and the repurposed objects/clothing people made in the subculture. Most of my initial contact was with the Maker crowd and that was all about making waist cinchers from old trousers. My wardrobe already contained a lot of goth and Victoriana elements so I felt I fit within the aesthetic very well too.

My initial impression of steampunk was about deliberate anachronism and redefining historical tropes visually. Like a lot of other people in the community I felt like I'd been "doing" steampunk for a long time. I just didn't quite have a name for it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Counting POC

I was at Steam on Queen in Toronto yesterday, and while there, ran into Theresa Breaux, with whom I've had good coffee and museum meanderings, and Priscilla Dixon, a local Ghanian-Canadian whom I met at Fan Expo 2010, and immediately lost touch it. She looked familiar, so I approached her for a picture, and asked her name, and re-acquainted myself.

Some of you may know her as Steampunk Storm; it's a pretty bitchin' cosplay.

Anyways, while we three congregated, we began counting POC, as one does as POC in a pretty white-saturated crowd. Theresa had gotten up to 8.

"Damn, girl," I said. "I think ya'll hit your quota, especially for a space this small." (I have no official numbers on how many attendees there were, especially steampunk attendees.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Introducing: The Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card!

I'm pleased to be part of the launch of the Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card, designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @mizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors. 

I've talked about cultural appropriation here a lot, and neocolonialism as well, and neocolonialism can manifest in the form of cultural imperialism. I could talk at length about this, but if you were wondering what are some general sentiments that cultural imperialists spout, here is a handy dandy Bingo Card for you to play with the next time you're watching a discussion about the Third World had by (usually white) First Worlders unfold before your eyes, whether online or off. Strike any statement that comes close and see how long it takes for you to get Bingo!

I should probably add that all the statements in this card, we didn't have to make up. Most of us have seen these sentiments in comments sections, or just said outright to our faces. It's pretty incredible, yea? Not, not really. Sigh. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Link of Interest: Disabled Life Media presents "Steampunk Town"

For March, Disabled Life Media, a site that showcases media that highlights the creative talents of people with disabilities, did a steampunk photoshoot with disabled folks looking for a leprechaun's pot of gold. It is super adorable and really cool, good application of the steampunk aesthetic and all-round fun photo story. 

A lot of non-disabled folks in steampunk like to pretend they have some form of disability, and there's not a whole lot of room for actual disabilities in our spaces that I've noticed. But obviously, steampunks with disabilities do exist; people with disabilities can pull off steampunk really well, and here is proof of their awesome.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Con Report: Aetherfest, San Antonio, 2012

So here's the first of a triplex con report! After my Fantastic Narratives conference in Halifax, in which I delivered my paper on Avatar: The Last Airbender, I flew down to the Austin airport on Thursday. The flight was especially pleasant because one of my fellow flyers was a guy I recognized from my time as a SMU Drama Society rabble rouser.... he was one of the campus security commissioners and I have many memories of having to calling down to unlock something or another, or turn off alarms, or something.

My flight was delayed by about an hour, but when I landed, Sixpence was there, with Aetherfest staff member Jasmine, because they had picked up Erica "Unwoman" Mulkey just an hour before, and thought to hang around for an hour instead of driving into San Antonio and back out.

This is Aetherfest's second year, and it's headed by Mr. Saturday and Sixpence (Pablo Vasquez and Cameron Hare). I met them at Steampunk World's Fair 2011, where I got to hang out in their room party the night I arrived, and ate some free pizza on Pablo's dime. Special Guests this year included Doctor Q of the Artifice Club, the aforementioned Unwoman, Marquis of Vaudeville, writers O.M.Grey and Lia Habel, and the Wandering Legion of Thomas Tew.

Con chair Pablo at registration desk
One of the few pictures where he's actually smiling
Click for more con reportage and pictures!

The Steampunk Postcolonialist at SF Signal!

Fabio Fernandes, who I interviewed earlier regarding the anthology of postcolonial SF he will be editing for the Future Fire, in turn asked me to participate in a roundtable about postcolonial SF, answering the silly question, "is it essential to belong to a culture that one is writing about?" 

There're answers from other steampunk writers too! Joyce Chng and Ekaterina Sedia participated, as did Steampunk Bible editor Jeff Vandermeer. Go check it out. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Steampunk POC: Nivi Hicks (African-American, Spanish, Lebanese)

Nivi Hicks of SLC, Utah
It's the first Friday of the month, all over again! Time for another steampunk POC interview, and today, Nivi Hicks of Salt Lake City, Utah, claims the spotlight! Nivi's been seen in her Bombay steampunk outfit, and her style threads influences from South Asia and the Middle East. She's also one of the organizers of SaltCity Steamfest. Without further ado, Nivi Hicks!

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'm a steampunk enthusiast and supporter within my community here in Utah. Events, fashions, icons, you name it, I try to support it. I've even taken up the reigns with a group of fellow steampunkians to create Utah's first ever Steampunk Convention, SaltCity Steamfest. Eventually, I would like to expand into fashion as a model more. 

When asked "what is steampunk?!" what do *you* say? 

My escape that lets me dress pretty without having to live to a cookie-cutter expectation (like cosplay can do). It's what happens when you take the industrial revolution, lengthen it, add steroids a more exciting history and technical output, some lace, and fantasty, va-la!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Checking In

Hello, readers, I am home! 

Con reports for Aetherfest, Watch City and World's Fair will soon follow, as soon as I decompress from over a month of traveling and getting angry at bureaucracies for arbitrarily canceling my visa and stupid shit like that. I have many many pictures to show you, and many stories to tell. 

How have you been in the meantime? Who went to Gaslight Gathering and World Steam Expo? Anything interesting?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thanks, Texas!

Now that Aetherfest is over, I'm on the road with Magpie Killjoy and Pablo Vasquez, and we're hoping to reach Virginia tonight on our way to Watch City Festival

Thanks, Texas, for the great weekend =) It was really cool to have my first time attending a con in what's reported to be a pretty neo-conservative area to be surrounded by so many thoughtful people. Thanks for everyone who stuck around when the Mental Illness in Steampunk panel was clearly not going where people thought it was going to go (and hope all ya'll enjoyed it anyway). Thanks to all my fellow panelists throughout the weekend. Thanks Pablo for letting me room with him on Thursday, and Erica "Unwoman" Mulkey for letting me room with her Sunday night, and JoSelle Vanderhooft for rooming with me in between. 

Of course some goodbyes are not so sad, since I'll be seeing the Wandering Legion next weekend at Watch City, and Airship Ambassador Kevin Steil at Steampunk World's Fair. But there are some folks I won't see for quite a while! Like O.M.Grey and the Marquis of Vaudeville (who put on a terrific show on Saturday) and Unwoman and DJ Fact.50 who'll be performing at Clockwork Alchemy, while I'm at WisCon. 

Con report will be forthcoming, with pictures. Here, have a video of the Marquis of Vaudeville performing a cover of David Bowie's "Within You" while you wait. I didn't get the whole song, but I promise the next two songs are in full.

Take care, the rest of you, and send me email whenever you like!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Steampunk POC: Pablo Vasquez aka Mr. Saturday (Black, Panamanian, Afro-Latino)

Pablo Vasquez of San Antonio
It's the first Friday of the month again! This time, we head down south, to Austin, Texas, where we'll find Mr. Saturday, nom-de-plume of Pablo Vasquez, who's also a con committee member for San Antonio's Aetherfest! You can find Pablo performing vaudeville acts with his mime, Sixpence, at various steampunk events.

So when are you Pablo Vazquez and when are you Mr. Saturday?

Well, Mr. Saturday is a fantastically exaggerated version of who I really am, though he's quite the flexible character. In Texas, there are far more people that know me simply as Pablo (even Cedric Whittaker of the Airship Isabella misinterprets my named as "Mr. Saturday Night", which I actually love, haha), but whenever I travel, I always am Mr. Saturday to them unless they're close friends. The lines blur often and I find myself at conventions sometimes never leaving the Mr. Saturday persona. If one were to believe in the Voodoo concept of Cheval, then this could be excused as Baron Samedi himself just "riding" me for the weekend, which fits perfectly in character. So, to answer that, Mr. Saturday is present whenever I want to party and when I'm performing and Pablo regains control when it's time to relax, be intellectual, etc.

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.