The origin of this exercise is perhaps as odd as the idea itself: while weeding my devastated Mad-Max-style front yard in preparation to lay sod this past summer, I was listening to the audio version of Stephen Mitchell’s lovely Gilgamesh: A New English Version. As I listened, I imagined the how the story would look if it were steampunked. Who would Gilgamesh be? What would Enkidu look like? What city would replace Uruk? I never seriously pondered writing it down, until I hit 800 followers on Twitter, and decided to celebrate the landmark with 80 tweets comprising an outline of a steampunked Gilgamesh. As part of Steampunk Week here at Tor, here is that outline with annotated explanations.
Tag Archives: writing ramblings
If this week proves anything, it’s two things: steampunk is still going strong as a trend, and it’s growing. And if this anthology proves anything, it’s that we really like lesbians. After Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories came out last year, Torquere Books realized it was pretty popular! And thus JoSelle Vanderhooft signed on again to bring us Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories (with an implicit promise that she’ll bring us another, and another, and another…). Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories comes out October 26 from Torquere Books, and you can place pre-orders by emailing JoSelle directly. If you like lesbian fantasy anthologies in general, JoSelle has edited a whole lot of them.
So, what can we expect from this new anthology?
Steampunk and alternate history have a lot in common; in fact, one might conceptualize steampunk as a branch of alternate history (at least, the steampunk set in the real world.) As such, we accept that some sort of change has occurred in the real world to cause a departure resulting in all sorts of exciting gadgetry and possibly airship pirates. While dealing with steampunk set in Victorian England or the United States, most western readers can easily recognize the references, and have at least some sort of an idea of what the original was like – and that enables them to spot the differences popping up in the steampunk-y alternate past.
Alongside grad school, conventions, and running this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of curating this year’s steampunk blogging event over at Tor.com. This week, from October 3rd through the 7th, I invite you all to mosey over to Tor and check out the lovely contributions, book reviews & giveaways going on.
I’ll be cross-linking several articles that are relevant to Beyond Victoriana, but you can check out the full week’s worth of goodies on the Steampunk Week Index Page.
Please show some love to our contributors & say hello in the comments
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.”
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!
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. ^_^
Note as of 9/21/2010: Since the posting of this report, I have received feedback that a reader had been offended by my comments below for ignoring the presence of mixed race and Native steampunks at Dragon*Con. I take full responsibility for the offense made and apologize for my oversight. As noted in the comments of this post, I don’t wish to make a marginalized person feel that they have been rendered invisible when they visit this site. The lightheartedness in which I made the comments below in “The Count” about race, representation, and physical appearance ignores the very painful experience of being a person of mixed race/Native descent/light complexion who passes for white, but does not share the same experiences as someone from the dominant culture. I won’t change my initial comments below–because it would be hypocritical of me to cover up my mistakes–and I hope to receive further feedback about how to improve upon my reflections –and in turn, the content of this site– to be more open and welcoming in the future.
My first Dragon*Con experience can be described in one word: overwhelming. Not surprising, since an estimated 60,000 attendees come to this convention every year. Since its humble beginnings in 1987, Dragon*Con has become one of the largest multi-media & pop culture conventions in the US, and there’s frequent debate in the geek world about whether Dragon*Con outmatches San Diego Comic Con.
Though I’ve heard about Dragon*Con, I never considered going because of distance and cost. Outland Armour begged the Wandering Legion of the Thomas Tew to attend this year, however, and so I decided to tag along with my ruffians-in-arms for the journey.
Thus, unlike other conventions I had attended, I had no set plans and didn’t intend to actively scout out the con specifically for steampunkery. I had plans on attending some of the panels listed on the alternative history track, and some other events, like the dark fantasy panels and seeing a couple of performers.
My initial schedule plans shifted, when Austin Sirkin contacted me about speaking on the Race & Gender panel, and Emilie P. Bush (who I worked with for the Race, Class & Gender roundtable at the Steampunk World’s Fair) touched base with me about speaking on the Women in Steampunk panel.
Another twist was added when the Day Job requested that I cover the convention once I told them I was attending. I try to keep a professional distance between my Day Job and my steampunk, especially since the two have so much relevance to each other. My plans for Sunday, though, changed entirely when I was scheduled to interview several authors and film the con. I was psyched about the people I got to interview (most relevant to this blog being Cherie Priest). Because of filming, I missed out on a couple of steampunk events I wanted to go to– most notably, the Steampunk Exposition (though the Peacemaker ended up being displayed in my absence). Sticking to the premise of the blog, though, I’ll only mention the steam events. ^-^
So I had two panels to prep for, along with making arrangements for work, in order to tackle a con I’ve never gone to before (and somehow figuring how to get down to Georgia at a reasonable price!) In the end, my experience was less steam-focused than I intended, but I did learn several valuable lessons about attending Dragon*Con. My list, plus the rest of the report after the jump.
At the risk of tooting my horn a bit too much for the past couple of days, I’m announcing a little “bonus material” to add to today’s update. Recently, the dear Airship Ambassador cast a line down and we chatted it up about my thoughts on steampunk, blogging, and the focus behind Beyond Victoriana.
ETA: The second half of the interview is now up, where Kevin and I talk about living the con life and much more.
Note from Ay-leen: Due to further shifts in the schedule, this week’s post will be my con report for BEA. And tune in next week for Sandrine Thomas’ new article. In the meantime, I shall be investigating steampunk at its Source in London. Wish me luck!
Some online commentors declared that when steampunk hit the New York Times Style Section, steampunk was dead. If that were the case, then the publishing industry has been beating a dead horse (or, perhaps, joining the “sell out” bandwagon as those same nay-sayers maintain). Nevertheless, with steampunk’s growing recognition as a subgenre (and cemented in March in relevance to US reading audiences when the Library of Congress created a “steampunk” fiction category), publishers and booksellers everywhere are intrigued by what, exactly, is steampunk and why, exactly, is it becoming one of the hottest trends in publishing today. During Book Expo America, the largest book fair event in North America that was held a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to scope out a few steampunk-related events that served to educate the average reader about the growing hype surrounding steampunk.