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A Land without Leaders: A Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy on Tor.com

The most fantastical aspect of A Country of Ghosts is how it’s an earnest tale about an alternative society when dystopias fill today’s bookshelves. Full disclosure here:the author has written for Tor.com, and I did hold interest in reading his book once he described it to me as an “anarchist utopia.”

With that seed in mind, I couldn’t help but view A Country of Ghosts as the latest in a long tradition of utopian novels, starting with Thomas More’s as the most well-known early example (and a fantastic open source annotated edition can be read here).

Of course, utopias and speculative fiction go hand in hand. In the 19thcentury, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland envisioned a society of women. Alexander Bogdanov wrote about communist utopia on Mars in his 1908 book Red Star. Later utopian novels include Ursula K. Le Guin’s take on anarchism in The Dispossessed, Arthur C. Clark’s peaceful alien invasion inChildhood’s End, Aldous Huxley’s utopian counterpart to Brave New World in Island, and the fulfillment of the radical movements of the 1960s in Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, along with many others.

In A Country of Ghosts a regional collective known as Hron (they’re only kinda, sorta a country) fights against a colonial empire, and Killjoy’s mix of politics and storytelling is at times intellectually engaging and at times winsome, though it’s also a curiosity to behold in the field today.

Read the rest of the review here: [“The rules don’t really matter. It’s the spirit that matters, I think.”]

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Exclusive! Jay Noel’s THE DRAGONFLY WARRIOR Excerpt

DragonflyWarrior ebook

Savage Machines Are Afoot…

At the age of twenty, Kanze Zenjiro’s bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.

Zen, affectionately called the Dragonfly Warrior, embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six guns and survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

Beyond Victoriana is happy to present a preview of Jay Noel’s DRAGONFLY WARRIOR. Take a look at the prologue and first chapter after the jump, and interested readers can find more info to purchase his e-book here.
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Updates: New Books & New Conferences

SteamingVictorianPBK-2

Click to order on Amazon.

Exciting news everyone, which as news tends to do, comes in threes.

First of all, Steaming into the Victorian Future is now available in trade paperback! Now instead of paying $100+ for this collection, you can get the trade paperback for less than $25. This is the very first academic collection of steampunk essays, and, for those interested in helping this scholarship grow, please purchase a copy of the book. I’m being honest here — we have been very grateful for the support our publisher as given the editors Julie Ann Taddeo and Cynthia Miller by creating this low-cost edition, but in order for steampunk academia to continue, we have to show support with our wallets as well. If you are interested in writing or teaching about steampunk for the classroom, consider adding this to your bookshelf.

Already, this book has earned some great press from the Academy and the SFF community.

Winner of the 2013 Peter C. Rollins Award in Popular Culture Studies

Steaming into a Victorian Future looks at the potential that steampunk has to be a contributor to social change through consideration of its past and present. This collection is vast in its scope, critically evaluating ‘texts’ from an array of genres from the past, present, and future of this literary movement and its surrounding subculture, and is as valuable as an introduction to steampunk and its possibilities as any of the fiction collections available.” (Monsters and the Monstrous academic journal)

“The English major in me just finished up dancing a little jig. I always enjoy reading essays on steampunk, but there are essays… and then there are essays. Oh, yeah. I enjoyed it. Every. Single. Page.

If any fellow steampunk fans out there want some solid validation of our favorite genre and its literary effects, this is your book.” (Wired.com)

In other news, Steampunk World is on its way to the presses soon, you can check out the Table of Contents posted on SF Signal.

IAFA

Finally, I’m excited to say that I’ll be attending the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, an annual academic conference about SFF in Orlando, Florida. I won’t be presenting, but there representing the Tor Books crew, since the theme this year is “Fantastic Empires” and Guests of Honor line up include Nnedi Okorafor, Ian McDonald, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay (Scholar), Jr., and Brian Aldiss (Emeritus).

A summary of what to expect at the conference:

From space operas to medieval tales to seminal works of fantasy, imaginative fiction abounds in fabulous empires. ICFA 35 will investigate the widest range of topics relating to empire, including discussions of particular texts, analyses of the hegemonic and counterhegemonic forces of empire, evaluations of individual resistances to imperialism (and of empires striking back), and assays into various other aspects of the theme. We welcome proposals for scholarly papers and panels that seek to examine, interrogate, and expand any research related to empire and the fantastic.

Authors, agents & academics interested in meeting at the conference, feel free to contact me! I’m really looking forward to this. ^^

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Announcing “Steampunk Hands Around the World”

Steampunk Hands Around the World

Image Credit: Raydeen Graffam

Earlier this week, I got an invitation for my good friend and steampunk colleague Kevin Steil of the Airship Ambassador to join a new community initiative that had stemmed from last TeslaCon: “Steam Hands Around the World.” Below is the press release about this worldwide blogging event, which is set to run this February. You can track all the events for this month here.

Just as current day expressions of steampunk are not limited to the literature where it began, the people in the steampunk community are not bound to any one geographical region. Steampunk appears in many forms, and with its popularity, the community has grown to encompass the world.

The celebration and sharing of that global association is at the heart of a new project, Steampunk Hands Around the World, by Kevin Steil, the creator and editor of steampunk news and information resource website, Airship Ambassador. With more than three dozen steampunk creators – bloggers, authors, event organizers, and others – also participating, the month long project is a multi format media presentation about the international connections and communications in the community, for steampunks and non-steampunks alike.

Beginning Sunday, February 2nd, and continuing until Friday, February 28th, the group will show and share that steampunks everywhere are linked together and that new friends are waiting in every conversation.

Steampunk, in its many forms, brings people together in an inclusive and helpful network of similar mind. From sharing book and music review opinions, to playing the newest games and sharing DIY information on fashion and props, the steampunk community easily and comfortably brings together people ages eight to eighty in ways not often seen in other communities.

The full and updated-daily list of participating websites, blogs and events will be posted in the kick-off blog on the Airship Ambassador blog site:
http://airshipambassador.wordpress.com

For more information, please contact Kevin Steil at Kevin@AirshipAmbassador.com

So far, over 50 individuals from more than 11 countries speaking across seven different languages are planning to participate. Watch this space for more to come!

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Steampunk, Technological Time & Beyond Victoriana: Advocacy and the Archive

In the hubbub of the past week, I completely forgot to mention my participation in Journal of Victorian Culture Online‘s . Check out an excerpt below, and follow the jump to read this academic article online.

Thanks to Prof. Lisa Hager and the editorial board of the JVCO for giving me this opportunity.

***

Steampunk studies is an outlier in Victorian scholarship. In fact, steampunk subculture can arguably be called “neo-Victorian” or even “non-Victorian” in the way that it defies strict adherence to a certain periodization or topic relevance. Steampunk is an aesthetic movement inspired by nineteenth-century science fiction and fantasy. Over the years, however, that umbrella phrase has expanded to include speculation outside of an established time-frame (such as post-apocalyptic or futuristic), outside of the established geography of the Western world, and even outside of history (as with alternate history and secondary fantasy worlds). How can we, then, describe the relationship between steampunk academic work and Victorian studies?

[Read "Steampunk, Technological Time & Beyond Victoriana: Advocacy and the Archive" on the Journal of Victorian Culture Online]

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Upcoming appearances: Anatomy of Steampunk, TeslaCon & Eastern Connecticut State University

teslacon4

I have some convention reports overdue — namely, I’d like to take New York Comic Con to task, the good and the bad — but I’m waiting until the full media coverage of my panels from NerdCaliber comes out before posting (so readers can get the full experience!)

But until then, giving a shout-out to a few more events I’ll be at before 2013 ends.

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Call for Submissions: The Steampunk World Anthology

The Steampunk World Anthology is a planned collection of steampunk short stories set in places outside of Europe. Edited by Sarah Hans, this anthology will feature veteran and up-and-coming writers from the science fiction community, including  Nisi ShawlMaurice BroaddusAlex Bledsoe, and Leanna Renee Hieber, plus many more to be announced. I’ve been asked to write the introduction and James Ng will be doing the cover art. This anthology will be funded primarily by Kickstarter that will be launched in October.

Besides the planned line-up, the gorgeous cover art, and yeah, multicultural steampunk being a thing, y’know what’s also exciting about this anthology? Hans strongly encourages to have writers of color involved as much as possible.

She’s looking for more writers to submit before the Kickstarter launches. According to her blog, she writes:

One problem I’m having is a dearth of stories by writers of color. I’ve invited some more writers of color in the hopes of achieving a better balance, but I could use some more. If you are (or know) a writer of color who might be appropriate for this project, please forward your (or their) name and email address to me at steampunkworldantho(at)gmail(dot)com.

The anthology pays pro rates of $.05/word for original work. I’m especially interested in stories that take place in Africa, the Caribbean, Russia, the far North (think Sweden), the Americas (i.e. Native American tribes), and Australia. I have a lot of stories set in Asia, so a story in Asia will be a tough sell. You’re still welcome to try if you think you have something really stellar.

So please signal-boost and submit! We can make this happen!

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Le Guide Steampunk by Etienne Barillier and Arthur Morgan

Le Guide Steampunk

Click to order from the French Publisher’s website — International shipping and e-book editions also available!

Want to lean more about the French steampunk community? Friend of the blog  Arthur Morgan, the owner of French Steampunk, contacted me about the publication of his newest book, which pubs today in France!

Book description:

Gigantic machinery driven by steam, heroes in top hats and monocles, heroines in crinolines holding parasols … The imagery of steampunk has been endlessly fascinating since the creation of the genre in the 1980s. But what are its origins? And what are its key works in literature, film or comic book form?

Written by Stephen Barillier, indisputable French expert on the genre, and Arthur Morgan, co-founder of the French Steampunk community and editor in chief of French-steampunk.fr website, this guide provides an inventory of steampunk today, drawing, in particular, on interviews with Tim Powers, K. W. Jeter, James Blaylock, Greg Broadmore or Jess Nevins.

This book is an introductory guide to the steampunk movement. Among the articles on literature, movies, music, comic books, the book gathers interviews of many renown characters of the subculture. Foreword by SJ Chambers. Featuring interviews from Ann Vandermeer, James P. Blaylock, KW Jeter, Tim Powers, Greg Broadmore, Jess Nevins, Mark Hodder, George Mann, Captain Brown of Abney Park, Mike Perschon and artists from the French steampunk community.

Au français

Des machines gigantesques mues par la vapeur, des héros en hauts-de-forme et monocles, des héroïnes en crinolines et ombrelles… L’imagerie du steampunk ne cesse de fasciner depuis la création du genre dans les années 1980. Mais, quelles en sont les origines ? Et quelles sont les oeuvres majeures en littérature, au cinéma ou en bande dessinée ?

Rédigé par Étienne Barillier, spécialiste incontournable du genre, et Arthur Morgan, cofondateur de la communauté French Steampunk, ce guide dresse un état des lieux du steampunk aujourd’hui autour, notamment, de rencontres avec Tim Powers, K. W. Jeter, James Blaylock, Greg Broadmore ou Mathieu Gaborit.

Bonus

Etienne Barillier et Arthur Morgan en interview sur le site d’Actusf

A découvrir aussi en papier :
Le Guide Philip K. Dick d’Etienne Barillier (et on vous rappelle que vous recevrez l’anthologie Contrepoint gratuitement si vous achetez les deux guides)

Des nouvelles steampunk en numérique :
Celui qui bave et qui glougloute de Roland C. WAGNER
Muchamor de Christian VILA
La Chose du lac de Laurence SUHNER
L’Assassinat de la Maison du Peuple de Sylvie DENIS

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Sounds Of Steam, Steampunk to Reality: Making Your Dreams Come True

Sounds of Steam

Click to see their Facebook page for this episode, or download at the link below!

I was recently interviewed for Sounds of Steam — the episode is now available for download!

Sounds Of Steam, Steampunk to Reality: Making Your Dreams Come True

Description:

We all have dreams that we would love to have come true. Some want to be writers, authors, and songwriters, others want to sing or start a band, and some just want to decorate their house to look like the inside of the Nautilus. Those things are too much to ask, are they? But they seem so far away, and almost impossible to achieve. How can you make them happen? Where do you even start?

We know a bit about making dreams come true, and we draw upon the even greater knowledge of our guests, Warren and Betsy Talbot of ‘Married With Luggage’, and Ay-leen the Peacemaker (winner of Steampunk Chronicle’s Reader Choice Awards of ‘Best Politically Minded Steampunk’ and ‘Best Multicultural Steampunk’) , to help us give you ideas and ways, that are proven to work, to make your dreams become reality!

Music by The Bewitched, Birthrite, The Blibbering Humdingers, The Cog is Dead, Crimson Clocks, The Aeronauts, Automaton, The Electric Swing Circus, Doctor Steel, The Extraordinary Contraptions, Escape the Clouds, BB Blackdog, Alexandra Hamer, Klaxton, Victor Sierra and more!

http://www.soundsofsteam.com/episodes/

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Steamfunk & Rococoa: A Black Victorian Fantasy

Briaan L. Barron, artist and owner of Bri-Dimensional Images and recent graduate from Sarah Lawrence College, contacted me about her senior project: a film about steampunk, steamfunk, and the role of African Diaspora in these subcultures. The final result is her animated short “Steamfunk & Rococoa: A Black Victorian Fantasy” which I’m happy to share here. Also featuring the wonderful Balogun Ojetade speaking about steamfunk!

Film description:

The inspiration for Steamfunk and Rococoa: A Black Victorian Fantasy derived from an event inspiration board that I came across online. The board, which featured an intriguing medley of metals, vintage artifacts, and African jewelry, was entitled “Afro-Steampunk,” and its description read, “If Erykah Badu and Sherlock Holmes had a wedding.” The visual juxtaposition of these unexpected sources of inspiration led me to delve into more research on the concept of Afro-Steampunk to see if this striking aesthetic could be found elsewhere. My search exposed me not only to more fascinating representations of Black and African aesthetics coalescing with the steampunk genre, but also to a unique set of politics and critiques associated with them.

Closing Credits Music produced by Briaan L. Barron

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