Tag Archives: “steampunk communities”

Yes, I Did Stick a Gear on It: The Illusion of Steampunk Performance — Guest Post on Steampunk Canada

Note: Thanks to Countessa Lenora for the opportunity to write this guest post for her blog!

The actual “Peacemaker,” my signature steampunk weapon

My Peacemaker was originally a chalking gun. I admit it. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who looks at it for more than ten seconds. Sometimes, people think it was a cookie gun, and I don’t mind that either. I like cookies.

There has been an unusual attitude, I’ve noticed, about the creation of steampunk props and the role of functional art. I’ve seen dismissive railing against “stick a gear on it” for physical artistic creations, the trumpeting of modded computers and iPods over spray-painted Nerf guns. I have no issue with beautiful functional art or people to have creative ambitions (and yes, that song based on the concept is pretty cute). But, as a performer with cosplayer roots, I never fully understood the ridicule. Because, a prop is a prop is a prop and as long as it helps you perform, whether the steampunk prop shoots real lightning or falls apart after being out in a rainstorm, as long as it enhances your artistic performance, it is a good steampunk prop.

What is, then, “steampunk performance?” A better way of phrasing would be that “steampunk performs.”

[Read the rest on Steampunk Canada]

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Beyond French Steampunk: Multiculturalism with Maurice Grunbaum

Maurice2

Maurice Grunbaum, left, with a fellow steampunk. Photo courtesy of Bernard Rousseau.

Striking. Powerful. Imposing. These are some of the words that come to mind when viewing a costume piece by Maurice Grunbaum. Maurice, an artist based in Paris, is well-known in the French alt and cosplay community for his amazing detailed costume and prop work, and images of his outfits have circulated throughout the steampunk aethernetz. I first noticed him in group shots with other steampunks of color (he’s the masked gentleman on the right).

On his Facebook, you can find detailed cosplays from Bioshock, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and other steampunk-inspired sources. On the rise nationally in France, his art was included in the exhibition “Future Perfect: Retrofuturism/ Steampunk/ Archeomodernism” («Futur Antérieur: Rétrofuturisme/ Steampunk/ Archéomodernisme») at the Agnes B. Galerie in Paris (watch the museum trailer below for a clip of Maurice talking about steampunk).

When I read his interview included in the exhibit’s catalog, I was blown away by his articulate passion for everything steampunk and his need to broaden the definition of steampunk to include influences outside the Victorian and the French «La Belle Époque». So with a little help from a French friend-of-the-blog, I was able to get an interview with Maurice.

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Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Awards, Conventions, Crowdfunding & More

SPC_RCA_logo_2013_400I have several exciting contributions in queue for April, so pardon the delay here on the blog.  In the meantime, other things have happened!

Firstly, I already mentioned it on Facebook & tumblr already, but I’ve been nominated twice for 2013 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Awards. Last year, I was honored to win four awards and that was enough ego-bloating for one year. XD  Again, thank you, Dear Readers, for thinking of Beyond Victoriana’s work for a second year in a row.

This year, I’m up for both Best Multicultural Steampunk and Best Politically-Minded Steampunk. My fellow nominees — Magpie Killjoy (better known as the founder of Steampunk Magazine), Balogun Ojetade, Steampunk Emma Goldman, and Jeni Hellum — have also done extensive work in their own right too, and I’m pleased to see the community recognizing the growing number of influential steampunks who are doing things that can impact the substance of our subculture. I encourage you to check out all the nominees and cast your vote before April 12th.

Steampunk at GettysburgThis weekend, I will also be heading out to Pennsylvania for Steampunk@Gettysburg with The Copper Claw. For this convention, I’ll be putting down the PowerPoint and taking up  my bow and arrows as a performer and not an educator (though I’d still be educating too, I think. Like in stage combat. Or shooting imperialists for fun and profit. That sort of thing.)

More details about my schedule & other news after the jump.

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Visiting Academia: Roger Williams University Lecture “Re-Racing Steampunk: Race, Memory & Retrofuturism”

Visiting Roger Williams last Tuesday was an amazing opportunity and a great pleasure to present there. Dr. Jeffrey Meriwether, along with professors Laura D’Amore, Charlotte Carrington, Sargon Donabed, and Debra Mulligan were all immensely welcoming and kind.

That morning, Dr. D’Amore picked me up from the Inn, and she explained that the university has started a new social justice initiative to embrace the historical impact of its founder. That fall, they had their Social Justice Week to initiate conversations across campus. The History department in particular, wanted to contribute to this new venture in innovative ways; hence, the invitation to speak at their campus.

During my visit, I gave presentations to Dr. Carrington’s American History (where they just started a unit on African-Americans during the American War for Independence) and Dr. Donabed’s History of Religion courses (where they are currently studying Western perceptions of indigenous practices versus indigenous perspectives themselves).  Afterward, I held “office hours” in the department lounge for students to come and talk about steampunk, and ended up having a long involved discussions about cosplay, Legend of Korra, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Then came my public lecture at 5PM — and look, I have evidence that it happened!

The video is about 50 minutes long, but the lecture runs until 36:53. Afterward is the Q&A with the audience. Additional pictures from the event can be seen on Tumblr and Facebook. The PowerPoint presentation used in the video can be viewed  here.

That evening, I had dinner with several faculty members and other guests, including a reporter from Venezuela brought in by Dr. Paola Prado from the Journalism department to speak about reporting under Hugo Chavez’s regime. Needless to say, right before my lecture, the news broke about Chavez’s death, and that was one of the many topics we discussed during the meal.

It was a whirlwind trip, but I enjoyed myself so much. Already, I’ve gotten some very positive feedback (and quite a few new followers, pleasantly enough.) Thanks again to everyone at Roger Williams for being fantastic hosts!

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Japanese Steampunk!: An interview with Kenny Creation and Luke Chaos

Poster for the Steampunk Garden, Episode 4: Celtic Fantasy

Poster for the Steampunk Garden, Episode 4: Celtic Fantasy

Meeting representatives from international communities is always one of the great pleasures of running this blog, and recently, Luke Chaos stopped by my Inbox to introduce the Tokyo Inventors Society and the seasonal event that they run: Steam Garden. How can I describe the event? On their website, their 4th Steam Garden event reveals that they are extremely interested in exploring different alternate histories while retaining a sense of high adventure:

It is now clear that the time-travelers are leaping across parallel worlds, where history is different every time. Somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, they arrive in a world where the Celts survived the Roman Empire, in their secret druidic villages. After a disastrous “steam war” during the industrial revolution, Europe goes dark and the Celts reclaim the British Isles, ruling from New Dublin. Here, the airship has to make a forced landing!

Don’t believe me? Well, check out their video trailer to boot.

I got to chatting with Luke and his partner-in-crime Kenny Creation about the steampunk and how the Tokyo Inventors Society see things from the land of the rising sun….

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Steampunk Hits the Mainstream (Again) on Tor.com

(a.k.a. The tempest in a teapot.)

This past week, the steampunk community expressed both apoplectic shock and exuberant clamoring over a press release from IBM’s Social Sentiment Index predicting that steampunk will be a retail trend from 2013 – 2015. After that announcement, the media picked up and ran with it, as the media usually does: Forbes reported the news, followed by Time, and soon all of the sci-fi and geek blogs were buzzing about the “discovery” of steampunk by the rest of pop culture. Even James Blaylock, one of the old-timers who started the subgenre with K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers, put in his two cents on HuffPo to explain what steampunk is to the masses.

Of course, with every new wave of attention, the steampunk community is reminded of all of the other times when people thought the aesthetic movement was hitting the mainstream (for good or for ill). Remember the elation when The New York Times covered it? Or how many cringed when Steampunk Palin went viral? Or how about that Justin Bieber video? (Click at your own risk.)

And wasn’t rococopunk being praised as the next big thing a couple of weeks ago?
[Read more in “Steampunk hits the mainstream (again)” on Tor.com]

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TempleCon Pre-Reg is open until December 31st!

TempleCon 2013
Attention con-goers and gamers everywhere– this February I will be a guest at TempleCon, the premiere retrofuturistic gaming convention of New England, presenting with friend of the blog Muse En Lystrala (who is an accomplished singer, web & business consultant, and artist working to support humanitarian causes) and performing with The Copper Claw, as well as offering my own panels. Today and tomorrow are the last days you can pre-register for the event. Other featured guests include Paul Di FilippoLeanna Renee Hieber,  Ego Likeness, Psyche Corporation and many more!

The con chairs of TempleCon always run a tight ship, with constant improvements and services to enhance the con experience. This year with your pre-registration, you can also sign up for a spot in any of their panels, demonstrations, workshops, and activities in advance! See below for what I’ll be offering and sign up with your membership.

Character Assassination
Bookish Biopunk
‘It’s Alive!’ Frankenstein as the Father of Biopunk
DIY, DNA, & Dystopia
Minorities and Alternative Cultures
LGBTQ in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Steam Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana
Women in Steampunk
Envisioning a Better Steam Society: Social Issues & Steampunk
The Copper Claw vs. The Garment Eating Microbes!

You can pre-reg here.

And join their FB page here 

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What Do You Do with an MA in Steampunk?

Note from Ay-leen: This guest post for STEAMED! was published yesturday and I thought I’d share it here.

After four years of college, with plenty of knowledge in what a well-known musical has termed a “useless” degree (though, technically, more than in English – I double-majored with Russian), I arrived at the classic Quarter-Life Crisis. I’d been in the Real World, yet was second-guessing myself. Was my career path where I wanted it to be? Was this where I envisioned myself when I left my alma mater? Compared to my peers, after the economy died, I was lucky: working in publishing at a secure job with solid prospects. But something since undergrad came into my life that had reminded me how much I missed academia. Steampunk.

[Read "What Do You Do with an MA in Steampunk?" on STEAMED!]

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Filed under Beyond Victoriana Odds and Ends, Essays

Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City is Steampunk TV with a Can-Do, Fan-Fueled Attitude

Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City is Steampunk TV with a Can-Do, Fan-Fueled Attitude

Steampunk has been hitting books, films, video games, and RPGs for the last few years – but can it finally work on the small screen today? We have had steampunk shows in the past (many point to the 1960s television-run ofWild Wild West as an example), shows that have steampunk elements to them (like the Chinese-tinged space western Firefly, the props in Warehouse 13, or the last couple of seasons of Doctor Who), and the occasional brass & cog cameo episodes in TV series of other genres (such as the episode “Punked” in season 3 of Castle or that terribly mediocre one from NCIS). We’ve seen steampunk done great, done haphazardly, or done, well, blah. So far, though, according to community consensus, nothing on current television has ever been done 100% right.

Meet the creative team behind Lantern City, then, a group of people who are serious about “doing it right.”

[Read "Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City is Steampunk TV with a Can-Do, Fan-Fueled Attitude" on Tor.com]

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Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About–by Magpie Killjoy and Professor Calamity

The Victorians invented sex.

Okay, okay, there’s biological evidence suggesting their forebears figured it out too, but our cultural understanding of sex in the western world is more steeped in the late 19th century than even us steampunks would care to admit. Sure, they were notoriously prude, but the Victorians were obsessed with sex. They just lied about it, constantly.

[Read "Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About" on Tor.com]

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Filed under Essays, History