Tag Archives: Steampunk

Boost! Help The League of S.T.E.A.M. make their third season come alive!

Looking for some steampunk monster-hunting? The League of S.T.E.A.M. needs YOU!

Signal-boosting friends-of-the-blog The League of S.T.E.A.M. for their Kickstarter to fund Season Three of their award-winning webseries.

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“Going Native” in Steampunk: James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson’s Vintage Tomorrows on Tor.com

Recently, everyone and their grandmother are trying to place steampunk in the grander scope of things. Most of pop culture has poked at it at this point. Many in the SF/F community gives the subculture a passing nod (or are slowly edging away, since, being early adapters by nature, quite a few in sci-fi are tired of it already).

Still, questions about steampunk have set people in pursuit of the deeper meanings behind the aesthetic movement. Two years ago, Intel’s futurist Brian David Johnson wanted to answer the biggest one about steampunk’s rise: “Why now?” He was joined by a cultural historian James Carrott and they filmed a documentary, which permutated into a book by the same name: Vintage Tomorrows (or two books, actually. Steampunking Our Future: An Embedded Historian’s Notebook is the free e-book companion you can get online).

I had the pleasure of meeting them at NYCC a couple of years ago to hear their idea first-hand: steampunk has the potential to be a counterculture. I’m actually on the fence about this (surprised, right?). Because, as much as I love the subculture, radical change isn’t a given to participate. Lo and behold, however, when a copy handed on my desk awhile back, I gave their research a gander.

[How to fall in love with a subculture in 10 easy steps -- Read the rest of Tor.com]

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#53 Caribbean Steampunk on a Distant World: A Review of Tobias Buckell’s CRYSTAL RAIN

In the wake of the Steampunk Kurfluffle that started with Charles Stross’ complaint against steampunk, Tobias Buckell wrote an interesting response about fantasy’s tendency to romanticize the past and mentioned his own work:

But ultimately, I share Stross’s discomfort, which is why my steampunk plays have often been about adopting the style and nodding to the history. Crystal Rain, what I called a Caribbean steampunk novel, is about Caribbean peoples and the reconstituted Mexica (Azteca in the book) of old with a Victorian level of technology, using the clothing/symbols of steampunk, but making their artificiers black.

Sadly, Crystal Rain, written in 2006, seems to have come out just before all the hotness, as it rarely gets mentioned as a steampunk novel whenever these celebrations happen.

So, now that my curiosity was piqued, I had to go out and get the book to see for myself how he handles steampunk before “the hotness.”

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#52 Reporting from Steamcon II: Weird Weird West

Image courtesy of SteamCon

The town of Seattle was a-buzz the weekend of November 19th – 21st as an estimated 1700+ steampunks arrived for the second annual Steamcon convention. This was another event I had to sit out on, sadly, since I was involved with The Anachronism NYC at Webster Hall that same weekend (and you can check out pictures here, here and here.) Staff and attendees from the event, however, volunteered their reports and pictures from the second-annual convention, which rocked the theme “Weird, Weird West.”

See what these folks have to say:

The man that needs no introduction, Jake von Slatt, who was one of the Guests of Honor, talks a bit about his experiences, including the panel he co-presented with the awesome mistress of the ExoSkeleton Cabaret Libby Bulloff about Queering Steampunk Fashion. Donna Prior, the Games Chair, talks a bit about the tabletop, miniature, and LARPing adventures that took place this weekend. Staff member Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, already provided a gigantic round-up and review of the SteamCon II media coverage, but also gives an exclusive report about his Steamcon experience. Justin Stanley (aka Emperor Justinian Stanislaus), known to most as the Emperor of the Red Fork Empire, gives an on-the-ground scoop in his attendee report.

And. as always, the Comments section is open for your own links, photos and more about your Steamcon experience!

Interested in being featured as a reporter or a photographer for an upcoming convention? You know where to find me.

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#49 Reporting from TeslaCon!

Image courtesy of TeslaCon

One of the difficult things about writing con reports for Beyond Victoriana is that I’ve always missed something. Whether it be a panel, a cosplay, or The Biggest Story from the con, I know that since I’m only one person, I can’t be everywhere at once to record it for the blog. Not to mention all of those great con events in the community that go on that I can’t attend. So for future conventions, Beyond Victoriana will be extending its con coverage to include features from on-staff and on the ground.

TeslaCon is the first event we’re trying out with this new format, and justly so. What makes this con stand out from previous ones is its mission as steampunk’s first “immersive convention.” Organized by Eric Larson (Lord Hastings R. Bobbins) as an elaborate role-playing convention, TeslaCon featured not only the usual panels, vending, fashion show and other events, but was built around a central murder mystery storyline and run by a crew of dedicated actors on staff.

Panelist Austin Sirkin talks about his impressions of the con, staff member Wendy Zdrodowski unravels TeslaCon’s murder mystery run by Steampunk Chicago, and Captain Anthony LaGrange of The Airship Archon gives an attendee report. Photo coverage is also provided by Jessica Coen and Shannon Sofian, featured in the articles and after the jump.

So even if you were stuck at home like me, you can still get a taste of the TeslaCon experience, thanks for the dedication of our reporters and photographers.

Interested in sharing your TeslaCon experience? Feel free to share & link your reports and pictures  in the comments!

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Newsflash: “Steampunks Around the World, Unite!” Now Available in Italian

reginazabo, a blogger from Italy who works as a translator, was quite taken by my essay about the current state of multicultural steampunk and translated it into Italian to share with the steampunks of Italy! A PDF of this document is available through the DIY magazine Ruggine (“Rust”).

The mission statement for Ruggine magazine is pretty awesome:

Our funding principle is Do-It-Yourself. We find things we like and simply activate to spread them around. It’s all about putting our hands on the heart of the matter, of getting involved with our brains, blood and hearts and avoiding the detached vantage points from which others gaze at futures made by someone else.

A giant THANK YOU goes out to her and the Ruggine team for their work in putting this together!

Available in Italian from Ruggine magazine. Click to download PDF.

Formatted at 52 pages in a pocket-sized edition, this PDF prints to the ideal size for stuffing in your waistcoat before leaving for your next steampunk meet-up, or ready-made for the determined pamphleteer.

Oh, you Italian punks–don’t you ever stop. ^_^

“Steampunk di tutto il mondo, unitevi!” is also available to read on reginazabo’s blog (at Part #1 and Part #2).

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#48 Les Sapeurs: Gentlemen of the Congo–Guest Blog by Eccentric Yoruba

Modern day dandies–Gentlemen of Bakongo, Brazzaville. Image courtesy of Daniele Tamagni. Click for link.

Dandyism and the Black Man

A dandy is a man who places extreme importance on physical appearance and refined language. It is very possible that dandies have existed for as long as time itself. According to Charles Baudelaire, 19th century French poet and dandy himself, a dandy can also be described as someone who elevates aesthetics to a religion.

In the late 18th and early 19th century Britain, being a dandy was not only about looking good but also about men from the middle class being self-made and striving to emulate an aristocratic lifestyle.  The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of literature’s greatest dandies; famous historical dandies include Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron.

These days the practice of dandyism also includes a nostalgic longing for ideals such as that of the perfect gentleman. The dandy almost always required an audience and was admired for his style and impeccable manners by the general public.

The special relationship between black men and dandyism arose with slavery in Europe particularly during England’s Enlightenment period. In early 18th century, masters who wanted their slaves to reflect their social stature imposed dandified costumes on black servants, effectively turning them into ‘luxury slaves’. As black slaves gained more liberty, they took control of the image by customising their dandy uniforms and thereby creating a unique style. They transformed from black men in dandy clothing to dandies who were black.

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Tor.com–So Much Steampunk, They Had to Say it Twice: Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded Review

Note: A little late for cross-posting, but here it is!

Rebellious children pick pockets and plant pamphlets in dystopian London. A train robbery occurs in a dimension beyond time. An Australian frontier woman plots against her husband with the robot maid. Two-timing agents confront each other in a food court mall. Oh, and a maniacal Mecha-Ostrich is running loose somewhere in New Jersey.

All this and more are found in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded anthology from Tachyon Publications.

Read on Tor.com: Clockwork Machinations ahead!

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#47 Dark Victorian Fairytale Science Fiction: An Interview with Psyche Corporation

In exploring the range of music that has been classified under the steampunk umbrella, Psyche Corporation would be on the more Gothic side of the spectrum.  The one-woman musical singer behind the band,  Psyche Chimère possesses a versatile voice, and her music ranges as far as the imaginative topics she sings about. At turns Psyche Corporation moves from evocative and theatrical, as with“Part of Her Design” or “Beast”; to the darkwave dance beats of “Institute” or “The Crime”; to whimsical but edgy storytelling like in “The Ceiling” and “Wonderland.” (You can listen to her music on her MySpace, Reverbnation, or last.fm).

Psyche Corporation’s music, however, has struck a chord with the steampunk community, and she has performed at steampunk events around the country, including The Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey, Dorian’s Parlor in Philadelphia, the Steampunk Salon run by the Brooklyn Indie Mart, and in conjunction with Steampunk Canada & the Toronto Steampunk Society for Canada’s Fan Expo. Psyche Corporation’s next steampunk performance will be at The Anachronism at Webster Hall in New York City on November 21st.

Just in time for Halloween, however,  Psyche Chimère stopped by the blog to talk about her darkly-tinged music and her career as a musician in the steampunk community.

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#46 Celebrating Our First Birthday!

One short year ago, Beyond Victoriana made its first blog post on a wee Dreamwidth journal.

And what a year it’s been since. To mark our first anniversary, let’s take a moment to review the wide range of content this blog has produced (oh yes, I’m celebratin’ with a LINKSPAM.)

And cake. Yummy, yummy gear cake…

How about this one? Image courtesy of Venus Cakes. Click for link.

Over the past year, we tackled a variety of topics, spanning art, theater, music, fashion, history, literature, science & technology.

Steampunks from around the world have also popped up on this site: Bruno Accioly on Brazilian Steampunk; Jha Goh, our Malaysian “postcolonialist steampunk” and friend of the blog; Michael RedTurtle for an American Native perspective, and the UK band Sunday Driver stopped by for a chat.

On the science & tech front, we covered technology from the East, in the Muslim World, and for First Nations.

The arts have also been spotlighted here, with works from historical artists (like Charles Frederick Goldie) to modern artists (like Yinka Shonibare MBE, Lalla Essaydi, Willie Bester, and Mary Sibande). Webcomics like The Seven and Virtuoso have been featured.  For literature, the books that take steampunk to new locations and realms of thought were highlighted, such as Boilerplate, Magic Under Glass, Black Hills, The Shock of the Old, Little Bighorn and Isandlwana: Kindred Fights, Kindred Follies. Award-winning authors Karin Lowachee and Nnedi Okorafor were interviewed.

And as steampunk music is still being established, we’ve talked with several artists who each bring their own unique style to the table: from Sunday Driver to Coyote Run to Emperor Norton’s Stationery Marching Band.

Multicultural and obscure histories have also been covered, from the record of Asians in the Americas, to Noah Meernaum’s survey on representation in Weird West, Kevin Mullins’ work on Fernian bombers, Evangeline Holland’s posts on race and women, and Matt Delman’s historical epic of the Great Game.

And of course, there have been several articles and linkspams which featured new ideas, writers, thinkers, creators, movers and shakers in the growing steampunk community.

Overall, not bad for the first year.

What can we expect in the coming one? More diverse interviews, analysis, pictures, and articles of course!

Several major projects are in the works for Beyond Victoriana, which we hope to unveil later this fall. More importantly, though, here is what we’re looking for now:

That’s right– take a word from Uncle Sam Abe Lincoln and consider what you can contribute to make this blog the best thing ever. Are you a writer, performer, artist, cosplayer, academic, tinkerer? Do you have an opinion, a story, a book review or outfit you want to talk about? Do you go to conventions and like taking pictures or writing about them?

Then consider hosting your work here!

Beyond Victoriana has had an amazingly successful year because of the wide range of voices present on this site.  And we want yours too.

We are looking for guest posters, regular contributors, and potential interviews. In particular, we are also looking for reporters to cover the array of upcoming conventions & events. Immediate help is needed for TeslaCon & SteamCon II coverage, but we are also interested in covering future cons throughout 2011.

People from all backgrounds are open for consideration. Previous journalism or blogging experience a plus. If you’re interested, please drop an email to attic [dot] hermit [at] gmail [dot] com.

And of course, a big THANK YOU goes out to everyone in the community who have stopped by, e-mailed, blogged, linked, or talked up Beyond Victoriana in the last twelve months. We’re one year–and 21,000+ hits– in and more ready than ever for Year Two.

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