Tag Archives: Ay-leen the Peacemaker

When Feminist Fashion Goes Couture: Anne Avantie, Indonesian Designer

“If I walk, I hope my footsteps won’t be erased just like that… I want many other footsteps to follow mine!” – Anne Avantie

Anne Avantie’s signature kebaya designs are growing in popularity as Asian fashion enters the global scene. Born to Chinese parents in Solo, Indonesia, Anne never had any formal training in fashion design, but always had an interest in the fashion world. Her love for fashion design started young, when she created and sold hair ornaments to her friends in elementary school. As she grew older, Avantie began doing costume design for her school events and other local events in Solo, and in 1989, she started her own company with only a rented house and two sewing machines. Her business soon boomed, however, with her specialization in her elaborately beaded costume wear and wedding gowns.

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The Industrial Revolution of Today: A Review of FACTORY GIRLS by Leslie T. Chang

Click to read more on the publisher’s website.

When we take about the impact of the Industrial Revolution, we speak of it in terms as if there had been only One Industrial Revolution, and that had taken place throughout the Western world during the nineteenth century. As I had written about before, the Industrial Revolution didn’t just happen then, and in fact, the current industrial revolution is happening throughout the non-Western world just as the West begins to grow nostalgic about it.

In talking about alternative histories, and how the non-West would develop, it’s interesting to dream up scenes of Imperial splendor (like James Ng does). It is equally valid, however, to note that you don’t have to look toward the Qing dynasty to see a Chinese industrial revolution, for, as James himself has noted, China is changing into a fully developed industrial nation as we speak.

With that in mind, I picked up Leslie T. Chang’s book about her observations about today’s current revolution, specifically of those factory girls in China that the West likes to paint as faceless factory drones (occasionally laced by the feeling of guilt toward those “poor sweatshop workers.”) Chang, however, breaks down that stereotype (though sweatshops are very much alive and well in China) and presents a look into the lives of today’s migrant factory workers.

Compulsively readable and engaging throughout, FACTORY GIRLS: From Village to City in a Changing China highlights the stories of the young people (particularly women), who are changing the face of the global economy today. Instead of the masses teeming in nameless sweatshops that the West envisions, these lives are individually dynamic and driven, full of same sorts of fear and wonderment that the young mill girls in the West may have also felt a hundred and fifty years ago, as they sought to make new lives for themselves.

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Filed under History, Review

May Updates & the Convention Extravaganza Series

I’ll be here this weekend. Will you?

This May is packed to bursting. I knew it’d be a whirlwind of acitivity coming in, I just never realized how jet-lagged I’d be along the way! Top that with some Major Life Changes at the moment, current fundraising excitement, and yeah, I’ll just hide away with my netbook and blog KTHXBAI.

Much gratitude goes out to the folks at Aetherfest in San Antonio, TX for their kindness and enthusiasm. Extra kudos go out to the con chairs Pablo Vazquez and Cameron Hare for their dedicated attentiveness that they showed to all of their guests and attendees, especially when Lucretia and I struggled with some last-minute travel issues at the con.

Also, much love goes out to my friends up north at the Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition . Jaymee gave our presentation Steampunk Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana its international debut at the convention, and reported to me that it was a smashing success.

So a big “Hurrah & Salutations!” to all our new followers (and old ones!) that we’ve met at these events.

But what does our touring mean for the blog? To highlight the explosion of conventions, both steam-friendly and steampunk, we’re going to run a short series and feature some guest reports from these events.

Starting May 13th, Beyond Victoriana will run the Convention Extravaganza, a six-week special feature that will be giving special reports from assorted guest bloggers from several recent and upcoming conventions, including Nova Albion, Steampunk Industrial Revolution, Aetherfest, International Steampunk City, Steampunk World’s Fair and WisCon.

And also, in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month last year, I wrote about Asians in the Americas. This year, we’re focusing on Asian Identities, Crossing Boundaries, a series that will update every Tuesday this month starting May 10th. How do Asian nationals and the Asian-identified diaspora embrace their identity in a globalizing world? How does modernity affect changes in fashion, culture, art & society? Each piece in this series will present modern and historical examples of how the cliche “East Meets West” can get turned on its head and explored inside-out. And oh yeah, still be steampunky too.

And, to end, a brief note about my panel schedule for this weekend’s International Steampunk City, for those who want to stop by and say hello:

at the Waltham Library, 735 Main Street, Waltham, MA 02451

2 PM Book signing for The Steampunk Bible (Guest panelist)

3 PM Corsets, Goggles & Empowerment: Women & Steampunk (supporting my good friend & host speaker Katherine Moseley)

4 PM Historical Accuracy in Steampunk (Guest panelist)


1 PM Steampunk Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana (Presenter)

Outside of these panels, you’ll most likely find me acting with saucy puppets, or getting drunk in a bar with good friends.

Hope to see you there!


Filed under Announcement

The Steampunk Bible Now Available

At long last, The Steampunk Bible is now available in stores.

So many fabulous people in the community have contributed to this book (Full Disclosure: Including myself ^_~). This is a must-read for anyone interested in the latest within our quickly-evolving subculture.

Steampunk—a grafting of Victorian aesthetic and punk rock attitude onto various forms of science-fiction culture—is a phenomenon that has come to influence film, literature, art, music, fashion, and more. The Steampunk Bible is the first compendium about the movement, tracing its roots in the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells through its most recent expression in movies such as Sherlock Holmes. Its adherents celebrate the inventor as an artist and hero, re-envisioning and crafting retro technologies including antiquated airships and robots. A burgeoning DIY community has brought a distinctive Victorian-fantasy style to their crafts and art. Steampunk evokes a sense of adventure and discovery, and embraces extinct technologies as a way of talking about the future. This ultimate manual will appeal to aficionados and novices alike as author Jeff VanderMeer takes the reader on a wild ride through the clockwork corridors of Steampunk history.

Many thanks to Jeff Vandermeer & Selena Chambers for all their hard work in putting together this beautiful book. It’s a true testament to the creative and intellectual forces that really drive all of us to do the stuff we do.

More sneak-peek pictures under the cut.

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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.


Filed under Announcement, Interviews

Anime Boston Feedback

Azula shows off her moves at Anime Boston — she was one of the several awesome Avatar cosplays I saw there.

A quick note to thank EVERYONE who attended our panels at Anime Boston this weekend. Lucretia and I had a fantastic time meeting & engaging with you folks — especially the 150+ people who stopped by our Race Matters in Amestris panel!

Liked what you saw? Had some suggestions to make these panels even better? A way you can help is by leaving us feedback here:

Race Matters in Amestris

Steampunk in Anime

The Meiji Era: A Japanese Industrial Revolution

Leaving feedback of your support is the #1 way to guarantee that Anime Boston will let us back in next year. So if you had enjoyed your Anime Boston experience with us, please don’t hesitate in saying so!

And now to prepare for Aetherfest….

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#70 “The West Was Lost” by Beth Aileen Lameman and Myron A. Lameman: A Review

Cover for The West Was Lost. Click to read the comic

Native steampunk has been presented in many different ways and, like the comic Finder (which had been reviewed here a couple of weeks ago), The West Was Lost is another drawn tale that speaks in layers and plays with the concept of linear storytelling. The creators Beth Aileen Lameman (née Dillon) and her husband Myron Lameman are both Native (Beth has Irish/Anishinaabe/Métis heritage and Myron is from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation) and passionate about indigenous representation in their creative projects. Beth Aileen’s past work includes her comic Fala–which is described as a Native “Alice in Wonderland”–, the urban fantasy animated series Animism, and the games TimeTraveller–about a time-hopping Mohawk man from the 22nd century– and Techno Medicine Wheel. Myron is an independent filmmaker whose previous work includes his recent documentary made with support from National Geographic All Roads called Extraction, about the Beaver Lake Cree people’s fight against the Canadian federal government over tar sands expansion on their land. He has also done the short films Blue in the Face (also working with Beth Aileen), Indigenous Streets, and Shadow Dances and Fire Scars.

The comic itself is a one-shot 24-page piece, but the story it contains weaves in and out of time, consciousness and space. The summary of The West Was Lost is probably the most linear way to describe it:

The cold north wind brings with it chaos and harsh reality when decisions are made by Nezette, who leads members of the Sovereign to rid the west of the intruding Zhaagnaash people by putting flame to oil. Nezette must confront her worst enemy: the temptation of Windigo in herself.

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Steampunk Stylin’ & Dr. Grymm Featured on BBC America

One quick update: Amidst the rush in preparing for Nova Albion this weekend, I want to mention that the BBC America segment about steampunk had aired on Tuesday night as part of the BBC World News Hour. Readers may recall the Steampunk Stylin’ event I organized in connection with this; I worked with the lovely gent Andy Gallacher on this story to get him in touch with maker Dr. Grymm as well as letting him meet the awesome NYC steampunk community at The Way Station in Brooklyn.

This story, I think, really captures the fun, beauty, and positive vibes that I’ve encountered during my years being involved in the steampunk community, especially with the crews I run with both in New York and in New England. I’m especially proud that many of these wonderful people had a chance to come together for a night and show BBC how awesome American steampunks can be.

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International Women’s Day: A Brief History

International Women's Day logoDuring the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, causes for gender equality were being raised by men and women throughout the world. In 1909, under the helm of the Socialist Party of America, the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28th. In 1910, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, influential German socialist politician Clara Zetkin proposed that a day be set aside in every country where women can organize and advocate for their demands for social equality. The following year, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated International Women’s Day on March 19th, 1911. About 1 million men and women attended rallies in those countries and others to advocate for equal rights and pay.
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Filed under History, Linkspams

Steampunk Stylin’ at The Way Station & New Convention Announcements

A quick update about the plethora of events & conventions coming up.

In cooperation with the newly-opened Way Station in Brooklyn, we’re celebrating this new addition to the NYC steampunk community on Sunday, March 13th from 6-10 PM.

We’ll be having steampunk book giveaways, vending from Dorothy Winterman, live performances from Psyche Corporation, Eli August, Painless Parker, and MUCH more.

Not only that, but the lovely gents from BBC international will be joining us! They are filming a story about steampunk. So we hope to feature the variety that our community has to offer. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

RSVP on Facebook
RSVP on Meetup.com
RSVP on The Steampunk Empire

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