Tag Archives: cross-post

Stitching Time: Creating an Interactive Steampunk Narrative–by Yomi Ayeni

I’m often asked what the interactive theatrical experience Clockwork Watchis, and the answer changes with each stage of the production. The underlying objective, though, is to create a fictional Victorian universe and tell a story where the narrative is delivered through live events, graphic novels, role-play, online news sites, and a feature film, all co-authored by the audience, through their interactions with our make-believe world over the next five years.

[Read “Stitching Time: Creating an Interactive Steampunk Narrative” on Tor.com]

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Black Dispatches: Real-Life Superheroes in the Age of Steam(funk)–by Balogun Ojetade

Espionage—the act or practice of spying or of using spies to obtain secret information—has been with us probably since one of our first villagers looked over the hill to see what the other village was up to.

Espionage is one of the world’s oldest professions because as long as there is one person who has an advantage over another, be it military, agricultural, industrial, or even sexual, undoubtedly, someone will be skulking about trying to get their hands on someone else’s information or technology.

The most valuable thing in the world is not gold or diamonds, it is information.

Information of every kind has its own value depending on who wants it and why. Industrial espionage can alter the wealth of a nation and thus its capacity to compete commercially and wage war. A single act of industrial espionage elevated the United States to international economic eminence in less than 50 years. All it takes is one person to alter history, if they are in the right place, at the right time, with the right kind of information.

Having people in the right place at the right time was vital to both the Union and the Confederate armies during the American Civil War. Units of spies and scouts reported directly to the commanders of armies in the field. They provided details on troop movements and strengths.

The most useful military intelligence of the American Civil War, however, was provided to Union officers by “Black Dispatches” – a common term used among Union military men for intelligence on Confederate forces provided by black people. Let’s look at a few Black Dispatches and their invaluable contributions and acts of derring-do.

[Read “Black Dispatches: Real-Life Superheroes in the Age of Steam(funk)” on Tor.com]


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Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality–by Lisa Hager

Illustration by Keith Thompson

As an academic who specializes in Victorian literature and a steampunk who enjoys taking on the persona of Dorian Gray on occasion, I get a lot of questions and not a few strange looks from my colleagues and students when I explain what steampunk is (or at least try to) and why I so thoroughly enjoy being part of this subculture and avidly devour its fiction. Though most people are definitely interested in steampunk or pretend to be for my sake, I often get the sense that they wonder why a “serious” academic like myself is interested in steampunk culture and literature – that I have crossed some sort of academic nerd line in the sand and may be slightly strange for doing so.

What this attitude misses is how speculative fiction and the subcultures that embrace it, most especially steampunk, can welcome diversity and difference in ways that rare in mainstream culture and give both energy and verve.

[Read “Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality” on Tor.com]

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Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution (Excerpt)–Introduction by Ann Vandermeer

We’ve got the introduction to Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, edited by Ann VanderMeer, out on December 1 from Tachyon Publications:

Playfully mashing up the romantic elegance of the Victorian era with whimsically modernized technology, this entertaining and edgy new anthology is the third installment in a bestselling steampunk series. Featuring a renegade collective of writers and artists—from beloved legends to rising talents—the steam-driven past is rebooted and powered by originality, wit, and adventure. Lev Grossman offers a different take on the Six Million Dollar Man who possesses appendages and workings from recycled metal parts, yet remains fully human, resilient, and determined. Catherynne M. Valente explores a new form of parenting within the merging of man and machine while Cherie Priest presents a new, unsettling mode of transportation. Bruce Sterling introduces steampunk’s younger cousin, salvage-punk, while speculating on how cities will be built in the future using preexisting materials and Jeff VanderMeer takes an antisteampunk perspective as a creator must turn his back on an utterly destructive creation. Going beyond the simple realms of corsets and goggles, this engaging collection takes readers on a wild ride through Victoriana and beyond.



“After all, what our world is and can be are more about human imagination than well…anything else. And isn’t that a lot of what steampunk has to say? Imagine! Play! Create! Push past the artificial boundary of time to ask the real questions: What does it mean to be human? What are we going to do with all this technology? How can we create the future we want and need?”

—James H. Carrott (Cultural Historian, 2011)

When Jeff VanderMeer and I published Steampunk (the first book in this series) in 2008, we approached the concept through the literature. At that time we had no idea that an entire subculture had grown up around this form of retro-futurism. We had done a lot of research around the fiction but only briefly delved into film, comics, and other creative endeavors. Then we found Steampunk Magazine, which gave us another view of this fast-growing subculture, attended a Steampunk convention, and soon had a better sense of it all. It’s not surprising that we weren’t more aware, given that it wasn’t until the New York Times article in 2008, the month our anthology was published, that the Steampunk subculture became mainstream.

From there, however, steampunk seemed to go viral. We were even approached for an interview by the Weather Channel. I, being a weather geek, was thrilled for the opportunity but asked the interviewer, why us? Why would the Weather Channel be interested in Steampunk? He answered global warming, alternate energy sources, recycling, DIY thinking. This got me to take an even closer look at what was going on in this subculture.

When we agreed to do the second book in 2010, Steampunk Reloaded, we wanted to show how the fiction of this subgenre had grown and transformed. It had expanded beyond just science fiction featuring the Victorian era, and we were able to include many more alternative Steampunk backgrounds and approaches. Correspondingly, the subculture had also expanded and become more diverse and more international—in a very short period of time.

Which brings me to the volume you hold in your hands.

[Read the rest of the excerpt from “Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution” on Tor.com]

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Rockin’ That Steampunk–by Kevin J Anderson

In a world lit only by fire
Long train of flares under piercing stars.
I stand watching the steamliners roll by.

That’s the first stanza of “Caravan,” the opening track of Clockwork Angels, the new album from rock supergroup Rush – introducing listeners to the steampunk land of Albion. The concept album tells a fantasy adventure of a young man’s journey across a landscape filled with mechanical contraptions, alchemical coldfire, steamliners, lost cities, a strange carnival, pirates, a rigid Watchmaker and a “freedom extremist” who called himself the Anarchist.

In a groundbreaking crossover project, I wrote the novel of Clockwork Angels in close collaboration with Neil Peart, the lyricist and drummer for Rush. The twelve songs give snapshots of the story, like scenes in a movie trailer; but music is different from prose, and there was so much more to tell, and the characters and settings needed room to grow.

[Read “Rockin that Steampunk” on Tor.com]

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Crystal Herbalists & Zombie-Fighting Exorcists: The Newest Work of James Ng

The Crystal Herbalist by James Ng

Four years ago, James Ng was a digital artist with an interesting project that caught the eye of the steampunk community. His “Imperial Steamworks” series recreated an alternate world where the Qing dynasty was the leader of the 19th century Industrial Revolution. We featured him once on Tor back in 2009, and since then, James, who spends most of his time between Hong Kong and Vancouver, has been successful both in the art world and in the science fiction/fantasy community. His work has been featured in multiple magazines like OnSpec and Spectrum 18, books including The Steampunk Bible and Steampunk: The Art of Victorian Futurism, and art festivals in cities such as Moscow, Vancouver, Seattle, and Sydney.

I got the opportunity to touch base with James about his newest works and picked his brain for his thoughts about how his time with the steampunk community has influenced his artwork, and new turns he is taking professionally and artistically.

[Read “Crystal Herbalists & Zombie-Fighting Exorcists” on Tor.com]

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10 Tips for Launching your Steampunk Project on Kickstarter–by Julie Brannon

[Note from Ay-leen: “Business” and “steampunk” can provoke a sense of distaste among some, but let’s face it: steampunk as an artistic community can and should take advantage of innovative ways to support itself. Crowdsourcing isn’t new, of course, but Julie Brannon, the marketing whiz behind the transmedia publisher of Steampunk Holmes and other titles, gives us her top ten tips for successful Kickstarter campaigns. Steampunk creators, take note!]

10 Tips for Launching your Steampunk Project on Kickstarter

Are you considering launching a Kickstarter project? As a marketer specializing in publishing and technology projects, I get numerous requests from startups to market their Kickstarter campaigns. Currently, I’m researching steampunk projects on Kickstarter in preparation for the upcomingSteam Patriots campaign forNoble Beastand I thought I’d share some tips with you.

In the spring of 2012, I marketed theSteampunk Holmes Kickstartercampaign which surpassed its $29,000 goal to be funded for a total of $42,877. In that campaign we learned as much about what not to do as we learned about what to do.

[Read “10 Tips for Launching your Steampunk Project on Kickstarter” on Tor.com]

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Fullmetal Alchemist is the Best!–by Faith Erin Hicks

[Note from Ay-leen: Never forget, October 3rd….]

Faith Erin Hicks explodes the internet in this comic strip demonstrating her love for Fullmetal Alchemist

So… we recently asked cartoonist and Friends With Boys author Faith Erin Hicks if she had any strong opinions about steampunk. The answer quite literally speaks for itself!

What you’ll read below is Faith’s intense and lovely comic strip letter celebrating the existence of Fullmetal Alchemist. Once you’re done squeeing in boisterous agreement, you can check out Faith’s comic strips about The Hunger Games, Prometheus, and way, way more here. She and Prudence Shen are also currently serializing a new graphic novel about cheerleaders versus robot builders at www.nothingcanpossiblygowrong.com!

[Read the full comic review on Tor.com]

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Les Vaporistes, Steampunk in France–by Arthur Morgan

[Note from Ay-leen: I don’t typically cross-post about Europe (for obvious reasons for this blog), but I think that a view into non-Anglophone worlds are equally valid, and watch this space for an interview with Vietnamese-French artist Maurice Grunbaum, who gets a mention here.]

Needless to say, steampunk is heavily influenced by Victorian aesthetics. Top or bowler hats, frock coats, London fog, and so on are unmistakable steampunk characteristics. While the steampunk community is talking wildly about places outside of Victorian England, trying to find in far lands a way to nurture the movement, we sometimes forget that steampunk is also born in the hands of people like Jules Verne, Albert Robida, and others who shared their vision of the future.

Somehow, we can say that steampunk was also born in France. But is there any French steampunk? My answer is yes, and a lot of its richness is available to people outside the Francophone world.

[ Read “Les vaporistes, steampunk in France” over on Tor.com]

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The Three P’s of Steampunk Filmmaking–by Tee Morris

It has been a question that I’ve seen resurface since Justin Beiber’s holiday movie tie-in single, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” went steampunk for their music video: Why does steampunk still matter?

The movement has been around for decades, and in recent years steampunk has become a fascination for mainstream culture. Literature remains a driving force behind its popularity. From books and graphic novels, and the colorful characters created within them, makers of both fabric and fabrication backgrounds bring to life this 19th century that never happened. Musicians such as The Men Who Will Be Blamed for Nothing, Abney Park, Paul Shapera, and even Rush are also finding inspiration from steampunk.

There is one creative arena where steampunk remains not only undiscovered country, but exciting country to explore: steampunk in film. There are many projects in production, some of which are reaching to the community for help in doing it right, but filmmaking—particularly for steampunk—offers incredible challenges. Challenges that, when conquered, can be quite rewarding.

[Read “The Three Ps of Steampunk Filmmaking” on Tor.com]

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