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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Steampunk Hands Around the World: Good Gears and Good Works

This article is part of Steampunk Hands Around the World international event, running between Feb 2nd and Feb 28th. For a full listing of events, check out the Airship Ambassador blog.

steampunk hands around the world logo

Over the years in the steampunk community, I’ve seen its potential to work together for more than shared fandom reasons to impact the larger world around us. The community’s Maker influence could be a cause why: if people like to fiddle around with machines out of junk, their tinkering becomes a physical demonstration of how people can re-think an object to make it work better, breathe new mechanical life into it, as well as making it aesthetically pleasing in its functionality. I’ve seen that attitude transfer to other works that steampunks have done. On top of that, the types of people who are involved in the community — tinkerers, artists, educators of all stripes — create a space where ideas bounce off of one another, and perhaps, that creativity which stirs up a person’s inner initiative to try and change a bit of their own lives then spreads into other aspects of life too.

It’s not surprising then, that several initiatives have started up in the community with the aim of social and public betterment. I won’t deny that I have a certain perspective about this, given the people that I associate with tend to value ways that explore social causes, whether it be through increased artistic literacy, media critique and representation, environmental or political causes, or education. Many of these people are friends of the blog and you can check out their work here. Various steampunk conventions also have had a charity fundraiser at their event, as what usually happens at events such as TeslaCon, Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track, and Steampunk World’s Fair. For Steampunk Hands Around the World this month, I wanted to highlight some various ways that the steampunk community is giving back, to show that we’re more than a group with a retrofuturistic side hobby.

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Happy Lunar New Year!

Mechanical Horse by Andrew Chase. Click for Source.

Mechanical Horse by Andrew Chase. Click for Source.

I’ve written about Lunar New Year in the past, and as one of my favorite holidays, I have to give a shout-out featuring some lovely steampunk steeds.

Happy Year of the Wood Horse, everyone!

Driftwood Horse by Heather Jansch. Click for Source.

Driftwood Horse by Heather Jansch. Click for Source.

Steam Horse by 19th-century artist Alain Giller. Click for Source.

Steam Horse by 19th-century artist Alain Giller. Click for Source.

Cavalique by Larry Agnello. Click for Source.

Cavalique by Larry Agnello. Click for Source.

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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 World Kickstarter–Multicultural Steampunk Fiction Anthology Goes Live!

 

Steampunk world update 12-11-2013
I was going to post this when it went live, but I’m so excited to report that TWO DAYS after the launch of the Steampunk World Kickstarter, and we’re already halfway to our goal! Thank you to our followers on Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr for getting the word out and donating to this wonderful project.

For those who want to read more about the people involves, the prizes, and more crowd-sourcing details, check out the Kickstarter page and boost, boost, boost!

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Please signal-boost: Raising Funds for Datamancer’s Family

Datamancer keyboard

Click to bid on eBay. All proceeds will go to Datamancer’s family.

Recently, the steampunk community has suffered a great loss in the passing of Richard Nagy (aka. Datamancer), one of the most prominent makers in the community. Make Magazine had written a wonderful tribute to his memory. Sadly, I didn’t have the chance to know him personally, but he was one of the inspirational mainstays of the community, and his loss is felt by many, especially his family. Thomas Willeford of Brute Force Leather is working to raise funds to go to Datamancer’s loved ones in this time of grief.

He says:

“I am auctioning off this Signed and Dated Datamancer Keyboard. Sadly, there will not be more like this ever again. If you have ever thought that you just have to have one, this is your chance. Help keep his legacy alive.

Every penny is going to his family.

I have contacted them directly to ensure this is done with good grace and honor toward his name.

Any help spreading the word or bidding towards this special piece of art will be greatly appreciated, the auction will last through this Saturday.

Auction Link: Datamancer Barrister Brass Keyboard

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Mad Max Meets Apache Steampunk in Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

Killer of Enemies

Link to Killer of Enemies on Lee and Low’s website.

Nowadays, I read so many steampunk-labeled books that very few retain the innovation factor for me. It’s fine to see tropes that establishes the aesthetic as a subgenre, but it takes a lot to make a steampunk book read fresh to me.

Then, comes along Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac: a book that’a steampunk by way of Mad Max rather than gaslamp London. Killer of Enemies is not just a gulp of fresh air, but a hyperventilating-inducing adrenaline rush. Oh, and did I mention that this young adult book was initially pitched to me as “post-apoc Apache steampunk?” Yeah, let that catchphrase sink in a bit.

[Shoot first, ask questions later. Mild spoilers ahead.]

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What Happens When We Speak: On Con Harassment and Fandom on Tor.com

Image Courtesy of the Back-up Ribbon Project

“So I heard that you won Tumblr,” a coworker joked with me the other day.

He was referring to the maelstrom of activity that was triggered when I posted about my con harassment experience at New York Comic Con by the film crew of the YouTube web series Man Banter, hosted by Mike Babchik. I won’t reiterate everything that happened, but kept pretty good documentation. Other industry professionals and geek news sources had done the sametooThere is a petition out, created by the activist group 18 Million Rising in order to hold Babchik’s employer, Sirius XM Radio, accountable for his actions since Babchik had gotten into the convention using his job credentials. Since the incident happened, New York Comic Con had assured that they will tighten their safety policies, and I even had a nice wrap-up interview about making convention spaces safer with NYCC show manager Lance Fensterman.

Okay, that ugly event got all wrapped up with a nice li’l bow of resolution; we can leave this in the fandom corner until the next big misogynistic thing that happens to women at conventions hits the fan (but oh wait, it just did as I typed this). At this moment, I feel like I can voice something that I’ve been holding in this whole time: I am lucky. And it shouldn’t have to be that way.

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