Category Archives: Conventions

My WorldCon 76 Schedule

My first WorldCon is just around the corner! Below is my schedule, and I’d like to give kudos to Mary Robinette Kowal and the rest of the WC team for all of their hard work with the programming overhaul.  I’m really excited to be on board on a wide range of panels. Agents & authors can reach out if you are interested in booking a meeting in my off-time.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

10 – 11 AM
Young Adult: Looking at the World Through a Skewed Lens (210E)
One of the key advantages that SFF has is allowing us to tip the real world to the side to expose the interconnective tissue. This is often a powerful lens for Young Adult authors. It allows them to obscure issues with fantastic set dressing. Our panelists look at what that skewed lens offers, be it fantasy, science fiction, steampunk or other genres. How does it affect the stories they can tell and the audiences they can attract? What are some of the best ways to leverage the skewed lens of SFF for a Young Adult audience?
Panelists: Diana M. Pho (M), Tina Connolly, Scott Sigler, Gail Carriger, Fonda Lee

5 – 6 PM
Kaffeeklatsch: Diana M. Pho
211B1 (San Jose Convention Center)
Pick my brain! Learn about books & other things!
For all kaffeeklatsches, you have to sign up the day of at the sign-up booth in the exhibit hall to reserve a spot.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

10 AM – 12 PM
Wild Cards Signing (San Jose Convention Center Autograph Area)
George R. R. Martin | Kevin Andrew Murphy | Melinda M. Snodgrass | Mary Anne Mohanraj | Marko Kloos | Caroline Spector | Walter Jon Williams | Saladin Ahmed
The long awaited reprint of Wild Cards VIII: One Eyed Jacks is now pubbed! You have an opportunity to get a copy while at Worldcon and to get autographs from many of the authors. This is a special group signing. Copies of the trade paperback will be available from Borderlands Books, in the Dealer’s area.  The authors will ONLY be signing Wild Cards books.

(I’ll be chilling there for the first half-hour)

11 AM – 12 PM
We Have Always Played Games: Women at the Gaming Table (210C)
The Fake Geek Girl is a harmful stereotype which has been used to make women feel unwelcome at the gaming table. This panel will tear apart that stereotype, and talk about all the ways in which women have contributed to the gaming world.
Panelists: Donna Prior (M), Marie Brennan, Diana M. Pho, Veronica Belmont, Erika Ensign

12 PM – 1 PM
Defining Steampunk (210F)
Is it artistically transformed carefully constructed Victorian clothing? Is it cunningly modified thrift store finds? Is it a fusion of Victorian elegance, pure fantasy, and steam-powered science-fictional engineering? Or is it any old thing that you just slapped a few gears on?
Panelists:  Elektra Hammond (M), Anastasia Hunter, William C. Tracy, Diana M. Pho, Jaymee Goh PhD

2 –  3PM
What’s Upcoming at Tor (210C)
Tor editors present recent and upcoming titles!
With Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Beth Meacham, Miriam Weinberg, Diana M. Pho, Carl Engle-Laird, Lindsey Hall, Lee Harris

7 PM – whenever?
phở with Pho (unofficial event)
San Jose has a vibrant Vietnamese community, so I’ll be in Little Saigon in pursuit of awesome phở ! Reach out for location & details.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19TH

8 – 10PM
Hugo Award Ceremony
In the Grand Ballroom.
I’ll be there, looking rad and fab. Come say hi!

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Update: Arisia and Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême & announcing The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction

This January, I have the pleasure of attending two conventions I’ve never been to before. The first is Arisia in Boston,, where I’ll be on the following panels:

Diversity: Still Knows What We Did Last Summer
Marina 2 – Sat 1:00 PM
Last summer, Fireside Fiction found that of 2039 short stories published in the US in 2015, 38 were written by black authors. As we talk about diversity in SFF, what happens when good intentions on the part of major outlets fail so spectacularly? How does a POC author get their stories to the audience? Have things improved? Our panelists will be looking at how to get stories by diverse and representational authors to market, and what still needs to be done to address this ongoing problem in SFF.

SFF Relationship Goals
Bulfinch – Sat 4:00 PM
SFF doesn’t always have the best reputation when it comes to depicting romantic relationships, but that doesn’t mean that respectful, loving partnerships are nowhere to be found. In this panel, we will explore the good ones, where to find them, and what commonalities they might share. What can authors do to feature good relationships in their stories?

Policing Diverse Creators
Marina 1 – Sun 1:00 PM
Lately there have been many instances of diverse creators, both writing #ownvoices and not, who are subject to more scrutiny in things such as reviews and commentary about their works than white, non-#ownvoices authors who write about the same. What can we do to mitigate this? And how do we criticize problematic aspects while remaining aware of the power differential?

Beyond Metaphor: Explicit Representation in SFF
Faneuil – Sun 8:30 PM
There are many SFF works that talk around an issue, rather than facing it head-on. What works are there that directly talk about race, sexuality, gender identity, disability; things that have been addressed in the past mostly as metaphor? Are there any ways we are moving away from only being able to imagine ourselves in our protagonists in vague and subtle hints? What still has to happen before explicit representation works properly for everyone?

 

 

Next I’ll be attending the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême, France. The Festival is the third largest comics convention in Europe, and I’m there most scouting for new talent to US audiences and seeing what comics looks like on an international level.

Speaking of an international scope, I am also honored to be selected as the Editor Reviewer for the Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction for 2018. The goals of this award is best explained on their website:

The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction is a tribute to Dr Abdus Salam, and an effort to promote science fiction writing in Pakistan.

Since inception Pakistan, as a nation, has struggled with conformity as a result of mass repression and suppression. Entrepreneurship, art, literature and innovation have all suffered from provincialism and orthodoxy. Challenging the boundaries of traditional thinking and ideologies is, we believe, one of the core competencies of any progressive society. The Salam Award is a small effort by a few concerned individuals to change that and encourage our populace to be more imaginative.

I’ll be joined by the Award Judges Elizabeth Hand, E. Lily Yu, and Anil Menon, and Agent Reviewer Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary.

 

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Announcing details about my New York Comic Con panels this year!

Geeks of Color V: Getting in the Door
October 06, 2017, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
1A05
#GeeksofColorNYCC

Geeks of Color is the premiere NYCC panel on diverse career-building in comics, book publishing, gaming, animation, and film/TV. Learn the business from award-winning children’s author Dr. Tony Medina (I Am Alfonso Jones), Eisner & Harvey Award-nominated artist Ethan Young, Cerece Rennie Murphy (founder, Narazu.com) gamer podcaster/author Michael F. Haspil (Graveyard Shift), video game designer/activist Shawn Alexander Allen (Rockstar Games; Nuchallenger).

FACEBOOK LINK
https://www.facebook.com/events/119381288764182/

ADD TO YOUR NYCC CALENDAR: http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/en/Sessions/48671/Geeks-of-Color-5th-Edition-Getting-in-the-Door

***

PANELIST BIOS

SHAWN ALEXANDER ALLEN makes (often political) art in the way of games (both digital and non), photography, poetry, and dystopian fiction. A 9 year veteran of the gaming industry, he has worked at Rockstar Games, ESI Design and is currently at MLB.com in a producer role for Gaming & VR content. Shawn is also co-organizer of the Game Devs of Color Expo, the first game conference in Harlem at the Schomburg.

MICHAEL F. HASPIL is a fantasy, science fiction, and horror writer. TOR published his debut novel, Graveyard Shift. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, worked for NASA, and has a M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota. He is a co-host on The Long War, the premiere podcast covering Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game. He has contributed strategy and advice columns to the Bell of Lost Souls and SpikeyBitz.com, the two most popular websites for tabletop wargames.

DR. TONY MEDINA is the author of six beloved books for young readers, as well as multiple volumes of poetry for adults. A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and a professor of creative writing at Howard University, Dr. Medina is a two-time winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. His newest book, I Am Alfonso Jones, is the first YA graphic novel about the Black Lives Matter movement.

National bestselling and award-winning author CERECE RENNIE MURPHY is the author of six books. In 2016, Mrs. Murphy launched NARAZU.com, an online platform designed to help avid sci-fi fans find the BEST indie sci-fi and comic culture content on the planet. To date, NARAZU has built a community of over 20,000 sci-fi and comic enthusiasts.

ETHAN YOUNG is an Eisner and Harvey nominated comic book writer/artist based in Ithaca, NY, with roots in NYC. He started his career with the self-published autobio comic, Tails, which won the 2007 Independent Book Award for Best Graphic Novel. Ethan is best known for Nanjing: The Burning City from Dark Horse Books, which won the 2016 Reuben Award for Best Graphic Novel (along with Eisner and Harvey nominations). Other works include The Battles of Bridget Lee (a sci-fi allegory of Mulan) and contributing to the Eisner winning anthology, Comic Book Tattoo: Stories Inspired by Tori Amos. In addition to comic work, Ethan has also worked in animation as a storyboard artist for The Centsables on Fox Business Channel, and as a Character Designer for Major Lazer on FXX.

 


Women of Color Break Out the Books: Professionals in the Biz
October 07, 2017, 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM
1A05
#WoCinPublishing

The face of publishing is changing, with professional women of color being more of a force than ever. But what is it really like working in publishing? A fresh take on becoming successful that’s more than leaning in, but also branching out. Featuring professionals from the industry’s top houses, including author K. Arsenault Rivera, senior book designer Regina Flath, video game editor Jes Negrón & senior marketing manager Ebony LaDelle.

FACEBOOK LINK
https://www.facebook.com/events/1526906254051670/

ADD TO YOUR NYCC CALENDAR
http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/en/Sessions/48717/Women-of-Color-Break-Out-the-Books-Professionals-in-the-Biz

***
PANELIST BIOS:

MODERATOR: Science fiction & fantasy editor DIANA M. PHO (Tor Books) has curated and moderated the Geeks of Color panel at New York Comic Con for the last four years. Her NYCC panels have been featured on CBS’s Inside Edition, MSN.com, and Ebony Magazine. She has been interviewed about fandom for many media outlets, including BBC America, the Travel Channel, HGTV, and the Science Channel; the websites Airship Ambassador, Racialicious, and NerdCaliber. Authors she works with at Tor include George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, A.J. Hartley, and Lara Elena Donnelly.

K ARSENAULT RIVERA was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. She moved to Brooklyn as a toddler and has been complaining about the heat ever since. She’s been writing as long as she can remember—from looseleaf fanfiction passed around her fifth grade class to fifty page character backstories. She writes her stories to combine her experiences as a queer woman of color with her passion for the high fantasy genre. All of her work features women loving women who take control of their own destinies. These days those stories have evolved into whole books. Her debut novel, THE TIGER’S DAUGHTER, will be released on October 3rd.

REGINA FLATH is the senior designer at Random House Children’s Books and the designer of several NYTBS books, including WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, and many others. Most recently she designed the backlist repackages and new front list covers for Tamora Pierce. She has been in publishing design since 2009. Regina is hapa (half Filipino, half American). When she’s not designing books, she can be found doing aerial arts, fiber arts. . . all the arts. She is a friend to imaginary creatures everywhere. Visit her online at reginaflath.com and most everywhere @reginaflath.

JES NEGRON has been working in media for over five years, first with books and most recently in video games. As a literary agent, she scoped out talent and managed her authors’ careers, working with projects ranging from kids’ picture books to adult epics. When she moved to video game publishing, she had the pleasure of working as an editor for the most popular PC game in the world, for which she was involved with regional publishing operations and content creation. Some of her projects over the years have included script writing, producing animations, and writing for a mobile application.

A huge proponent of diversity in media, Jes has pushed for more inclusive representation in both the books she looked to represent and the video game characters she had a hand in marketing. In the past, she’s volunteered with writing workshops to introduce local teens to the world of character design and she also runs CritsForGood, an inbox open to writers of color for free feedback on their queries.

EBONY LADELLE currently works as a Senior Marketing Manager at HarperCollins. Before HarperCollins, Ebony worked as a marketing manager at Simon & Schuster, where she had the pleasure to work with authors such as Shonda Rhimes, Mary Higgins Clark, and Jessica Knoll and also acquired her first book. MUSLIM GIRL by Amani Al-khatahtbeh published with rave reviews, including a New York Times Book Review. In her previous roles, Ebony has also worked on campaigns for Atul Gawande, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Andy Cohen. She holds a BA in Journalism from Howard University and received her MS in Publishing from Pace University in 2009. You can follow her on Twitter @coloringbooks.


Let’s Talk About Our Problematic Faves: Marginalized Fans & the Media
October 07, 2017, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
1B03
#OurProblematicFaves

Queer & POC industry insiders on critiquing the media they love (or don’t). Where does the convo go when identities intersect? We tackle hard questions on whitewashing, queer-baiting & appropriation. Featuring geek media critic Mark Oshiro, author Karuna Riazi (The Gauntlet), children’s TV writer Terence Taylor (PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney), game creator Shoshana Kessock (Phoenix Outlaw Productions), and author Lara Elena Donnelly (Amberlough).

FACEBOOK LINK
https://www.facebook.com/events/629314007457440/

ADD TO YOUR NYCC CALENDAR:
http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/en/Sessions/48727/Lets-Talk-About-Our-Problematic-Faves-Marginalized-Fans-the-Media

***

PANELISTS BIOS

LARA ELENA DONNELLY is the author of the critically-acclaimed gay glam spy thriller Amerlough from Tor Books. She is a graduate of the Clarion and Alpha workshops, and now acts as on-site staff and publicity coordinator for the latter. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in or are forthcoming from Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, Escape Pod, and Nightmare. While her physical form resides in Harlem, you can find her online atlaradonnelly.com or on various forms of social media as @larazontally.

SHOSHANA KESSOCK is a disabled veteran writer and creator in the gaming community, and a contributing writer to several websites including The Mary Sue, Tor.com, Geek Initiative, and Ology.com. Her professional gaming experiences include being a LARP designer for Phoenix Outlaw Productions, Organizer and Designer, for Battlestar Galactica: Tales of the Rising Star and Writer and Organizer, The Dresden Files LARP. She is also a new comic book creator working on a comic called Nowhere Girls, which is focused largely on having an intersectional cast of young women at the center of its adventures.

MARK OSHIRO is the Hugo-nominated writer of the online Mark Does Stuff universe, where he analyzes book and television series unspoiled, largely in the SF/F genres. He was the nonfiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction! and the co-editor of Speculative Fiction 2015. His first novel, a YA sci-fi book set in a pre-dystopian world, is being edited, and his life goal is to pet every dog in the world.

KARUNA RIAZI is a twenty-something Muslim American blogger and YA author. She is the creator of the viral feminist hashtag #YesAllWomen, as well as #NotYourStockMuslim and #OwnYourOwn. Her writing has been featured on The Toast, Brown Girl Magazine and the forthcoming YA feminism anthology, “Here We Are: Feminism For the Real World” (Algonquin, 2017). Her debut novel The gauntlet, was published by Salaam Reads in March 2017.

TERENCE TAYLOR (terencetaylor.com) is an award-winning children’s television writer whose work has appeared on PBS, Nickelodeon, and Disney, among many others. Terence is also author of the first two books of his Vampire Testaments trilogy, Bite Marks (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009), and Blood Pressure (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010) and has returned to work on the conclusion of his trilogy, Past Life. Find Terence on Twitter @vamptestaments or walking his neighbor’s black Labrador mix along the banks of the Gowanus Canal and surrounding environs.

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Boosting: Airship Ashanti Multicultural Steampunk Calendar

airship-ashanti-calendar-2
The Airship Ashanti sent over this missive about a great project they are doing to support representation in steampunk, and also goes to a good cause. I’m happy to support their efforts in our community. Ofeibea Loveless of the Airship Ashanti writes:

In an effort to showcase the diversity of its local steampunk scene, Airship Ashanti is selling copies of its new 2017 multicultural steampunk calendar this fall. The calendar features members of the Cincinnati/Dayton steampunk community as well as holidays from cultures and religions around the world.

HRA Ashanti Captain Mandisa Njeri says the group created the calendar to be more inclusive of the various beliefs, religions, and backgrounds that make up the world around us.

“For several years, the HRA Ashanti has stood behind its calling to support its local community through multiculturalism,” she adds. “This calendar is a step in the right direction of inclusive society that embraces the different cultures throughout the world.”

You can purchase a calendar for $15 from an Airship Ashanti member in person at the November 5 and December 3 steampunk salons at Molly Malone’s in Cincinnati, at Pandoracon in Blue Ash, Ohio (Nov. 11-13), or at the group’s table at Teslacon in Middleton, Wis. (Nov. 18-20). If you aren’t attending any of these events, you can contact the group via email at HRA.ASHANTI@gmail.com to inquire about purchasing a calendar.

Proceeds go to Airship Ashanti’s future programming and philanthropic initiatives. There are only 50 copies available so get ’em while they’re hot!


A couple more preview images can be seen after the jump.

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New York Comic Con schedule

goc-nycc-full-promo

This year, I’m excited to participate in two dramatically different (but equally fun) events for New York Comic Con! Details below.

For the fourth year, the GEEKS OF COLOR panel returns to New York Comic Con. Plus, fans can meet up afterwards for mingling, giveaways and more! Details & bios below.

#GeeksofColorNYCC #NYCCMeetups #NYCC

Geeks of Color
Saturday, October 8
1:30 – 2:30 PM
Room: 1A02
Description: Geeks of Color Episode 4: The Force Awakens continues to speak about the latest developments concerning representation across the creative industries and how PoC can succeed in comics, book publishing, online media, and more. Featuring Jennifer Baker (Forbes.com, Minorities in Publishing podcast), Bill Campbell (publisher, Rosarium Press), Andrea Lee (Got 2B Real webseries), Sarah Kuhn (author, Heroine Complex), Quressa Robinson (editor) . Moderated by Diana Pho (editor, Tor Books).

Geeks of Color Meetup
Saturday, October 8
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Room: 1C03
Description: Welcome to the Geeks of Color Meetup, a welcoming space for fans of color to chill and connect. Come with your friends, show off your cosplay, and network with professionals about working in the creative industries of comics, book publishing, and online media. Featuring Jenn Baker (Forbes.com, Minorities in Publishing podcast), Bill Campbell (publisher, Rosarium Press), Andrea Lee (Got 2B Real webseries), Quressa Robinson (editor), and Diana M. Pho (editor, Tor Books). Free book giveaways included!

***
PANELIST BIOS

JENNIFER BAKER is a publishing professional of 14 years, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, panels organizer for the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books, and social media director and writing instructor for Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared in various print outlets and she has contributed to Forbes.com and Bustle among other online publications.
Twitter & Instagram: @jbakernyc

BILL CAMPBELL is the author of Sunshine Patriots, My Booty Novel, and Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad and Koontown Killing Kaper. Along with Edward Austin Hall, he co-edited the groundbreaking anthology, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond. Last year, he also co-edited (along with Nisi Shawl) Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany. Campbell recently received the Glyph Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on the charity comics anthology, APB: Artists against Police Brutality (co-edited with Jason Rodriguez and John Jennings). Campbell lives in Washington, DC, where he spends his time with his family, helps produce audio books for the blind, and helms Rosarium Publishing.
Twitter: @RosariumBill
rosariumpublishing.com

ANDREA LEE is an actress, writer, singer, artist, and content creator. In 2011, Lee took her love of writing and acting to YouTube and birthed the web series Got 2B Real under the alias “Patti LaHelle.” The show parodied the likes of a long list of divas in the music business, all dialogue tied together with eye rolling and rapid-fire witticisms. Since its release the show has garnered over 48,000 subscribers on YouTube, 8.7 million views, and features by Vibe Magazine, Buzz Feed, TribecaFilm, Marie Claire, and many more.
Twitter: @_maleficentt

SARAH KUHN is the author of Heroine Complex—the first in a series starring Asian American superheroines—for DAW Books. She also wrote “The Ruby Equation” (with artist Sally Jane Thompson) for the Eisner-nominated comics anthology Fresh Romance and the romantic comedy novella One Con Glory, which earned praise from io9 and USA Today and is in development as a feature film. Her articles and essays on such topics as geek girl culture, Asian American representation, and Sailor Moon cosplay have appeared in The Toast, The Mary Sue, Uncanny Magazine, AngryAsianMan.com, IGN.com, Back Stage, The Hollywood Reporter, StarTrek.com, and the Hugo-nominated anthology Chicks Dig Comics. In 2011, she was selected as a finalist for the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award.
Twitter: @sarahkuhn
heroinecomplex.com

QURESSA ROBINSON works as an editor and her titles include SPELLS OF BLOOD AND KIN, CERTAIN DARK THINGS, THE SPICE BOX LETTERS, THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, THE ATLAS OF FORGOTTEN PLACES, the DESERT WOLF series, and many more to come. She is an alumnus of the University of California Santa Cruz, Columbia University’s MFA program, and House Slytherin. There is power in the dark side.
Twitter: @qnrisawesome
Instagram: quressa/
http://www.quressa.com
facebook.com/quressa

shipwreck-nycc

The San Francisco-based team behind the literary erotic fanfiction competition SHIPWRECK returns for one unforgettable night in October to take on William Goldman’s The Princess Bride at New York Comic Con in celebration of the launch of Shipwreck’s first anthology, Loose Lips, forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing on 9/27.

SHIPWRECK invites six Great Writers to write fanfic about characters from one Great Book, and you get to decide the winner before we reveal who wrote what. How? All fics are read by our Thespian-In-Residence, Mara Wilson.

See! Six respected writers debase themselves for applause and dick jokes. Marvel! As beloved characters are plucked from their worlds and made to do stuff they were never meant to do in places they were never meant to see. Pray! That you never have to sit on stage and face a crowd while someone else reads your fanfic. Enjoy! The nerdy a cappella of Choirfly. Drink! A lot, probably.

Featuring: Michelle Hodkin, Daniel Jose Older, Arianna Rebolini & Katie Heaney, Seanan McGuire, Diana Pho, & Dana Schwartz.

PLEASE NOTE: No children are ever harmed at Shipwreck, and consent and inclusion are paramount. We’re not dicks, we just like dick jokes. Shipwreck is brought to you by Booksmith, Amy Stephenson, and Casey Childers.

**Tickets can be purchased online via credit card up to 30 minutes before the listed start time. Tickets bought on-site at the door must be purchased via cash-only**

Buy tickets for Shipwreck online here

 

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Motor City Steam Con schedule

Motor City Steam Logo

Motor City Steam Con  (July 22 – 24) is coming up in a couple of weeks — check out my schedule below:

Friday
Beyond Victoriana: Steampunk Around the World
2 PM – 3 PM
Ontario Room
Beyond Victoriana, what steampunk possibilities exist? Come join us as we take you on a trip around the world to see how steampunk manifests in the minds of those who don’t think within an Eurocentric context, whether they blend Western influences, or use recognizably steampunk elements within a distinct flavor outside of Europe. We will also approach the ethical challenges that come up when engaging in multicultural steampunk and discuss matters of race, privilege, and cultural appropriation.

Saturday
So You Want to Publish Your Steampunk Book
12 PM – 1 PM
St Clair Room
With steampunk taking off in the publishing industry, where can you start? Ay-leen the Peacemaker has several years’ experience in editorial, marketing, and sales, will be able to give you an overview on how the publishing industry works, what it thinks about the growing popularity of the steampunk subgenre, and what options can the novice or experienced author pursue when selling their work.

Sunday
Culture Shocks: Is Steampunk Really a Subculture?
1 PM – 1:45PM
St. Clair Room
We all debate the meaning of the word “steampunk” and the meaning of its subculture. But has anyone wondered whether steampunk itself qualifies under the definition of “subculture?” What’s the difference between calling it a counterculture, an aesthetic movement, or a fad? We’ll talk about the history of subculture and the roles that mass media, postmodernism, consumerism, and style play in defining the steampunk community today.

***
My travel has been light this year because of Fantastic Real Life Events (aka I got married, the first young adult book I edited came out, academic publications in the works, etc. Looking at the other attendees for this convention makes me really excited to re-connect with some great friends from the community.

And, as always, interested literary agents and authors can reach out for an appointment by contacting me.

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#SteampunkHands – On Crafting a Subcultural Lifestyle: Objects and the Search for Home in Steampunk (Part 5)

The Airship Ashanti in the 2015 Internationa Steampunk Symposium. They were that year's winners of the Airship Games.

The Airship Ashanti in the 2015 International Steampunk Symposium. They were that year’s winners of the Airship Games.

A Genre for our Times: Living Steampunk in Pursuit of “the Good Life”, A Conclusion

During my extensive involvement in the steampunk community, I have contemplated the meaning of what constitutes a lifestyle and whether that coincides with the personal beliefs one holds. While I began this paper with the intention of exploring the separation of ideology with lifestyle, I also believe that people who are heavily involved in the steampunk community hold a specific worldview. In my interviews with members of the community, I came upon a dozen different responses to the question, “Do you think steampunks have a specific ‘mindset’?” Many vehemently rejected the idea that there was one common mindset (thus, hinting at the collective notion of respect for individual opinions and a general distaste toward imposing one’s opinion upon others.) Many other responses, however, incorporated the idea that steampunks are artists who prefer looking at the world more creatively than the average person. Artist Tamara Lavery mentions that, “I believe it is a very fertile mindset. Many of those involved are makers. Artists, crafts people, musicians,….while going to an event and purchasing something amazing made by another is mad fun, most of us are also happiest making or at least “modding” for ourselves.”1 Another steampunk, author Leanne Renee Hieber mentions the commodification of subculture in her response, but with an anti-commercial, pro-community spin: “I think there are common themes. Craft and maker culture as valued commodity (I consider myself a “maker” too, I make books). History is alive and re-imagined in us. Play, fancy, fantasy, adventure and whimsy are also a valued commodity.”2

In fact, what I found in common in many of these responses is how many steampunks link a “steampunk worldview” (if it does exist) to a set of materialist ethics with the world that emphasizes the imagination as a method to break away from normalized constraints of society. The nineteenth century, more than a common focal point of interest, is considered the nexus point of the standards of our modern world. Steampunks view the Victorian era as the beginning of the end with the tide of industrial, social, political and economic changes that directly changed our lives for the worst. By returning to the Victorian, the steampunk aesthetic movement both celebrates a historical era of change while also integrating anachronistic elements into history in the romantic hope of undoing the past to re-create a better present. The idea is speculative in design, but realist in execution. The steampunk aesthetic movement is one method in which people project their utopian ideals onto the everyday.

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#SteampunkHands – On Crafting a Subcultural Lifestyle: Objects and the Search for Home in Steampunk (Part 4)

ICON 2010

Photo from ICON 2010. Image Credit: J.M. Coen.

A Wandering Utopia: The Steampunk Convention

Note: A part of this essay section was previously published in my 2011 TempleCon convention report here.

Convention spaces provoke migration. They act as a Mecca for people of common means but uncommon interests, who engage in pilgrimages across the country to one destination in order to commune with each other. Convention spaces are also known in shorthand as the “con space,” a term that can allude to the Latin word contra (“to oppose, to argue against,” “pro or con”), to trick (“to con someone,” “the con game”), to illusion and mystification (“to confuse”). The term “con” when speaking of “convention” on the other hand, comes from the Middle English word connen, meaning “to study, know, or pursue.” Both divergent entomologies become relevant when describing a steampunk con.

Cons are understood as being a transitory form of escapism, where people enter from the mainstream world and are transferred into a heightened hyper-reality of Othered existence, before departing after a few hours or a few days to re-enter normalcy. At the same time, the convention space is nomadic, moving across city limits and state lines (and some, even, becoming virtual on the Internet)1. Sprouted by whims and fan passions, fan cons become hatched in backwater small towns and major metropolitan areas, each catering to the localized whims of the community’s populace. Cons, then, can be considered festive realms of liminality, a carnival space that Susan Stewart would identify as, “a reply to everyday life which is at the same time an inversion, an intensification, and a manipulation of that life, for it exposes and transforms both pattern and contradiction, presenting the argument and the antithesis of everyday life in an explosion that bears the capacity to destroy that life.”2

Of course, the concept of the fan conventions isn’t new and doesn’t pertain to steampunk subculture alone. My choice to include the con space as part of steampunk lifestyle, however, is connected to the increased attention by steampunk participants to the importance of holding a convention in their local community and the integration of convention-going with sociability for subculture participants. Moreover, unlike the assumption that these conventions are seen as breaks from the everyday, I argue that convention and event life in the steampunk community is seen not as an escape, but as a heightened utopian space that is reflective of community members’ everyday practices, interests and relationships.

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#SteampunkHands – On Crafting a Subcultural Lifestyle: Objects and the Search for Home in Steampunk (Part 3)

Lebanon County Historical Society's Stoy Museum replication of a Victorian Barber Shop. Click for source.

Lebanon County Historical Society’s Stoy Museum replication of a Victorian Barber Shop. Click for source.

Retro-Fitting the Technologies of the Self

I first heard of the Steampunk Salon through Meet-up.com, a social website. The NY Steampunk – Artists & Enthusiasts network was started in late 2008 and has over 600 members throughout the state, though a sizable number of them reside in New York City. Many of their events are based in the metropolitan area, from museum trips to picnics to community art projects, like arrangements for float in Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. One of the consistent events is the literary salon that takes place in Midtown East, hosted at the business of Romain Pallardy, hair stylist. The pun on the dual meaning of “salon” sounds a bit cutesy to be coincidental, and steampunk in general has been known to create spaces with a cheeky wink and a nod.

***

Finding Romain’s Salon is a bit tricky; one cool fall evening, I arrived at a bustling city street in Midtown East and didn’t see a storefront, for the Salon lacked a street sign, in contrast to the flashy hotel logos and restaurants surrounding it. The plain-faced building squeezed in this ritzy area could have been another forgettable residential building; alongside the row of pearly doorbell buttons, though, it wasn’t difficult to spot the one marking Romain’s business. In neat ink penmanship beneath a strip of plastic was the word “Salon,” as intriguing in its simplicity as Alice’s bottles and cakes marked “Drink Me” or “Eat Me.” The doorbell’s built-in camera blinked upon pressing the buzzer; my face flashed back in miniature before I was buzzed in. I climbed a nondescript, narrow stairwell to the second floor and arrived at a simple office door labeled in black-lined gold lettering: “Romain Parllady: Salon.”

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#SteampunkHands – On Crafting a Subcultural Lifestyle: Objects and the Search for Home in Steampunk (Part 2)

Victorian Carpenter's Kit

Victorian Carpenter’s Kit

“Home is a Woodshop”

Among my books on my self stands a French vodka bottle, sliced clean across the middle; this bottle I had cut myself using a diamond-edged rotary water blade. The process was not perfect, and chipped edges serve a cautionary purpose when I pick up the glass. A candle sits inside it, unlit, on my shelf, yet it nevertheless reminds me of the place where it was made.

***

In the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, I stood by the iron-barred gateway situated between two gray-faced, indiscriminate pre-war apartment buildings, dialing a number off my smart phone. An icy blast of wind coming in from the water cuts through my layers and my fingers tremble over the key pad. A warm, older voice answered, “I’ll be right up,” and in a minute, Stephen Ebinger, a broad-shouldered man with a peppery beard and Santa-Claus eyes, opened the gate. The stairs descended to the subbasement level and I teetered downwards precariously, clinging to the rust-stained railing. I followed my friend through the building’s back door into the basement apartment that serves both as his home, as a fully-equipped woodshop, and as the Steampunk Co-op in northern Manhattan.

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