Tag Archives: science fiction

In Conversation with Long Hidden Editors Rose Fox and Daniel José Older on Tor.com

Long Hidden anthology

“We need to talk about diversity,” has been the conversation starter in SF/F as of late. But the best fiction, as the saying goes, shows, not tells. The anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, reveals representation as more than a tally-count concerning diversity, and highlights how the act of reading across difference can be an intensely immersive experience.

Reading Long Hidden very much felt like sitting in on late-night conversations in a room full of strangers, darting from one conversation to the next. I might not immediately recognize the context of one tale or another, nor did I feel pressure or ridicule for not knowing something beforehand. What was important was recognizing the generosity and trust in which these stories were being told, and letting the conversation flow.

I’ve had the pleasure of conducting such a conversation with Rose and Daniel after my read. We discuss their challenges and joys during the editing process, the logistics of outreach and crowd-funding, and the impact of marginalized voices in the future of speculative fiction.

 [Read our interview here.]

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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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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.

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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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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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Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #9

Haven’t done one of these in awhile, but here are some pertinent links for sci-fi & steampunk-related events and causes…

First of all, this month in the US is African/African-American History Month. Beyond Victoriana has done features relating to this event in the past (check out our stuff on Black Victoriana in 2010 and African/African-American Heritage series in 2011) and this year I want to spotlight a venture by Alicia McCalla: The State of Black Sci-Fi 2012 blog carnival. She along with several other writers talk about where they see black sci-fi right now and where it is going. There’s a lot of food for thought on all of the contributors sites; so please check them out at the link. Plus, a shout-out to Valjeanne Jeffers’ post on why she loves steampunk and Balogun, the author of the steampunk/alt- hist book Moses: the Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, wrote about why he hearts steam too.

The annual Con or Bust Fundraiser is now open! Started by fans from the feminist convention WisCon to help raise money for people to color to attend SFF conventions, Con or Bust has raised thousands of dollars in support of a more diverse fandom since it started in 2009. You can read more about their history and go ahead and bid on some awesome stuff!

Did you know that Steampunk Magazine #8 has just come out? Well, if you don’t have a copy in your hands right this second, you can buy one or download the issue from their website.

A bit old, but the book Postcolonialism and Science Fiction is coming out, and i09 posted an excerpt from the introduction. I’m intrigued.

Emilie P. Bush, friend of the blog, has a children’s book coming out on Feb 28th: Her Majesty’s Explorer. The illustrations are adorable, and you can see them in the book trailer below.

Did you know that my intellectual comrade-in-arms Jaymee Goh is hosting a monthly series of interviews with people of color in steampunk? Already, she’s interviewed Native steampunk Monique Poirier, Maisarah Abu Samah, editor of the Singaporean steampunk anthology Steampowered, and author Stephanie Lai.

Speaking of interviews, I recently did one with Decimononic about steampunk jewelry. At first, I was honestly puzzled why they’d request me, but Jose and Irene are both jewelers from Spain who are running a series of interviews that explores the various ideas associated with steampunk and art. So I end up talking a lot about the historical formation of subculture, cultural appropriation, and my love of Russian things. Check  it out here.

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#90 The Halcyon Trilogy: Transforming Steampunk –Guest blog by Joseph Robert Lewis

So, if you’re here then you probably like steampunk, but you’re also probably just a little tired of seeing the same old English professor or American cowboy riding his clockwork horse to save western civilization. Me too. And after following the Racefail discussions back in 2009, I set out to create a steampunk series that would be different in every way I could imagine.

I started with research. Lots of it. I learned everything I could about the history and cultures of North Africa and the rest of the Mediterranean to create a time and place for my series that was original and fantastical, and yet thoroughly grounded in reality. Instead of drawing new maps, I looked at ancient maps. Instead of inventing emperors and wars and nations, I discovered the real ones from history (although none of them had appeared in my high school classes, disappointingly). And I carefully knitted them all together as the backdrop for my stories.

Here’s what I came up with.

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QUAINT #29 The Engine from A MEXICAN MYSTERY by W. Grove

The Engine was created by “W. Grove” and appeared in A Mexican Mystery (1888) and The Wreck of a World (1889). Nothing is known about “W. Grove” apart from his British citizenship. Both novels are moderately entertaining, and are early examples of the Revolt Of The Machines subgenre of science fiction.

A Mexican Mystery is the diary of John Brown, a Scottish locomotive engineer who is sent to Mexico to oversee the construction of a new railway line for the “new Emperor” (implicitly the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph). Brown is sent to the small town of Xiqipu, which will be the location of his headquarters during the project. It is in Xiqipu that he meets Pedro da Luz, the local engineer for the project. Da Luz is a descendant of Montezuma and is independently wealthy, and although proud still welcomes Brown to the project. Brown, for his part, sees that da Luz is close to brilliant and respects his intelligence. Brown goes off to the front of the line, which is high in the mountains, to oversee its construction. Da Luz, meanwhile, stays in Xiqipu and works on his special creation. The Emperor is holding a contest for the best new locomotive, and da Luz intends to win the contest.

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QUAINT #22: “Les Xipéhuz” (The Shapes) by J.H. Rosny

Close up of Danae Stratou's "Desert Breath", which would be an apt illustration for this novelette. Image courtesy of io9. Click for link.

The Xipéhuz were created by “J. H. Rosny (aîné)” and appeared in “Les Xipéhuz” (“The Shapes,” L’Immolation, 1887). “J. H. Rosny (aîné)” was the pen name of Joseph Henri Honoré Böex (1866-1940), a French author. For many years after his death Böex was forgotten, primarily because the majority of his work was written in disrespected genres like science fiction and the prehistoric romance. But in recent years critics and academics have begun paying him more attention and giving him the credit he deserves. Böex produced some remarkable science fiction and is considered (with Jules Verne) to be one of the most influential figures in the development of science fiction in France. “Les Xipéhuz” is one of his most famous, and best, stories.

“Les Xipéhuz” is set in the Middle East, circa 5000 B.C.E. A nomad tribe, the Pjehu, discover a group of “translucent bluish cones, point uppermost, each nearly half the bulk of a man…each one had a dazzling star near its base,” clustered around a spring. When the Pjehu draw close to the cones, or “the Shapes” as the narrator calls them, the Shapes attack them, killing many, although they only target warriors and avoid killing women, children, the sick and the aged. But the Shapes do not pursue the Pjehu beyond a certain distance and ignore them if they leave the Shapes alone. The Pjehu, shaken, consult a group of local priests who decide that the Shapes are gods and that they must be sacrificed to. But the Shapes kill those priests who approach them.

The priests experiment with slaves and determine the distance beyond which the Shapes will not pursue humans, and then the priests set that boundary with stakes and decree that the Shapes are to be left alone. But other tribes are not told about the priests’ decree or ignore it, and members of those tribes cross the boundary and are massacred. Then the Shapes begin expanding their territory. When the tribes try to resist, hundreds of their warriors are killed by the Shapes. All the tribes of Mesopotamia begin fearing for the existence of Man, and some men turn to dark cults.

The tribes’ wise men at last consult the hermit Bakhun. Long ago he had abandoned a nomadic life for a pastoral one, and in so doing flourished. Bakhun believes in odd and unusual things, like the sun, moon, and stars being “luminous masses” rather than gods, and that “men should really believe only in those things tested by measurement.” Bakhun tells the wise men that he will dedicate his life to studying the Shapes. He does so, and draws a number of significant conclusions, most important of which is that the Shapes are living beings rather than spirits or gods.

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Interviews, ahoy! Scott Westerfeld & Average Intelligence Podcast

For those of you who know me well (or even not so well), my current Day Job is in sci-fi publishing. And with that comes some great opportunities. Last year, I interviewed Cherie Priest at Dragon*Con. More recently, I sat down with Scott Westerfeld at the gorgeous King’s Carriage House in New York City for a one-on-one chat about his Leviathan trilogy:

In addition, tonight I participated with several other notable steampunks in Average Intelligence’s podcast. For those who had missed out, you can still listen to the whole thing here.

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#68 Carla Speed McNeil’s Aboriginal Sci-Fi Graphic Series FINDER: A Review–Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum

Outlined routes towards discovering and conversantly addressing Carla Speed McNeil’s graphic series Finder.

Panel from Finder: Sin-Eater, Issue 9: Artist/writer: Carla Speed McNeil, Lightspeed Press, March 1998

One inspired comic maker, Carla Speed McNeil, who began self-publishing Finder through her own imprint of Lightspeed Press in 1996, has been ardently continuing to develop this ongoing graphic series since 2005 as a webcomic. The creative commitment McNeil has applied toward the progressive formation of Finder has been appreciably recognized receiving a Lulu Award in 1997 and numerous Ignatz Awards leading to several Eisner nominations since 2001 1 In transitioning her successive work to a digital domain, McNeil has continued to draw critical accolades while expanding readers’ awareness within this worldly field, and in 2009, Finder was duly awarded an esteemed Eisner for ‘Best Digital Comic’. Topically, McNeil has accepted a representative offer from one of the foremost comic book publishers in the United States, and her prolific graphic saga will soon be widely republished in chronicle volumes by Dark Horse Comics.

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