Tag Archives: cross-post

How To Compose A Steampunk Musical–by Paul Shapera

How To Compose A Steampunk Musical

After a year and a half of constant obsession, living part of each day in an internal fantasy land, hundreds of hours of music studio work, thousands of little musical notes played, dozens of pages of scribbled notes and lyrics, and approximately 14,000 cups of coffee, I have written and recorded a 4-act steampunk opera called The Dolls of New Albion, A Steampunk Opera. It’s a sci-fi musical set in the fantastical city of New Albion and follows four generations of a family whose interactions with the dead cause chaos in the city. The album completed, the first staged presentation fast approaches.

How exactly does one write a steampunk musical?

[Read “How To Compose A Steampunk Musical” on Tor.com ]

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Nisi Shawl’s Everfair: Into the Heart of Steampunk–by Cat Rambo

Science fiction and fantasy writer Nisi Shawl is best known for her short stories, such as the ones contained in Tiptree award winning Filter House. But Shawl’s recently turned her attention to steampunk and is currently working on a steampunk novel, Everfair, set in the Belgian Congo.

She says of it, “Everfair was a dare I gave myself. In 2009 I attended World Fantasy and was assigned to appear on the ‘Why Steampunk Now?’ panel with Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Michael Swanwick, Liz Gorinsky, and Deborah Biancotti. Which got me wondering how come I didn’t much care for the stuff. I’ve loved reading early British fiction for decades, and old metal implements get me all moist, so steampunk ought to have been my speculative subgenre of choice, right? But the pro-colonialism, the implicit—and sometimes explicit—backing of Britain’s Victorian Empire? That, I simply could not stomach. Though I searched, I found very few examples of what Doselle Young calls ‘cotton gin punk,’ but the intersection of people of color and industrial technology seemed a natural one to me. So during the panel, after pointing out some ways to make the subgenre more inclusive, I announced to everyone in the room that I was going to write a steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo. Swanwick rolled his eyes and grimaced, whereupon I added ‘and I will make you beg to read it!’”

[Read “Nisi Shawl’s Everfair: Into the Heart of Steampunk” by Cat Rambo on Tor.com]

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Professor Elemental Defines Steampunk (or, at Least Tries to)–By Professor Elemental

I don’t know about you, but I spend so much time in a world of gears, cogs, pith helmets and imaginary robot butlers, I sometimes forget that there are people out there who see life quite differently. Hard to believe as it may be – there are some folk who haven’t ever pretended to pilot an airship, pulled on a scarlet corset or even polished their own goggles! How many of you reading this have had to fumble and mumble through a contrived explanation of exactly why you are wearing those brass wings and enormous top hat to some unassuming by-stander?

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Boldly Into Our Patina’d Future: How Steampunk Can (Help) Save the World–by Margaret Killjoy

Boldly Into Our Patina’d Future: How Steampunk Can (Help) Save the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steampunk is, in part at least, a re-envisioning of humanity’s interaction with the things that we make and how we make them. It’s a non-luddite critique of technology that says “Hey, you’re doing it wrong” without trying to eschew technology outright. And that critique is sorely, sorely needed, now more than ever.

[Read “Boldly Into Our Patina’d Future: How Steampunk Can (Help) Save the World” on Tor.com]

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Incan Intrigues & More Make Naomi Novik’s Crucible of Gold A Captivating Read

(Note: Not steampunk, but I think there is enough overlap to warrant a cross-posting. And, if you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it)

Fans of dragons and historical alternate history alike must know about Naomi Novik’s popular Temeraire series, where dragons and men battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Lively, uniquely-drawn characters and intriguing takes on history are two aspects I adore about these books, plus the international scope Novik brings to her storytelling. Though the war is raging through Europe, other non-European nations get slowly drawn into the mix, and Novik presents each society and their human-dragon relations in a nuanced manner. In China, for example, dragons and men are treated as equals. In England, dragons are considered widely as nothing more than working beasts capable of speech. African dragons, on the other hand, are respected as the reptilian reincarnation of deceased tribal elders.

At the end of the last novel, Tongues of Serpents, the former captain Will Laurence and Temeraire trek across Australia after a stolen dragon egg only to discover that the aborigines are trading with China. The revelation was certainly significant for the bigger global picture Novik is constructing, but it wasn’t her most exciting book to read. Too much wandering the outback and too little action.

I looked forward to Crucible of Gold, however, in hopes there would be more excitement. And there definitely is.

[Read on Tor.com. Sea-journeys! Incans! Dragon Tournaments! Mild spoilers ahead.]

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Empires and Explorers Re-told in Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention

Before Jules Verne and H.G. Wells came onto the literary scene with their scientific romances, another genius inventor took the stage: Frank Reade, the 19th century whiz kid who tackled the globe with his fleet of electronic-powered vehicles in a series of popular dime novels. Scholars like Jess Nevins argue that Frank Reade and other Edisonadeswere the proto-sci-fi figures that influenced the steampunk subgenre today. If you ever picked up a classic Frank Reade story, (there are some available online), you’ll also find that they were very much pulp stories of their place and time, filled with adventure, innovative machines, juvenile writing, and the whiff of imperialist attitudes and racist stereotypes.

The premise of Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention takes these entertaining, if flawed, stories and turns them on their head for a modern audience. Authors Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett have played with history before in their previous book Boilerplate, where a fictional robot was inserted into actual history. This time around, though, Frank Reade touts itself as the “real life biography” of Reade and his family of inventor-adventurers, who were so iconic that dime novel stories (the actual pulp fictional tales) were written about their lives. This cute idea was a trend in dime novels: Buffalo Bill and Thomas Edison, for instance, got the same treatment. While the Reade family never lived, however, the feat that authors Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett accomplish is not just re-mixing fact and fiction, but writing it in a way that reveals the double-edged sword of glory during the Age of Empire and beyond.

[Read the Rest on Tor.com]

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Rhyme meets Reason in Miranda, the Steampunk Murder Mystery Opera

Note: Here is my review for Tor.com about Miranda.

Photo credit: Christopher Lovenguth

In our round-up for steampunk events in January, the description for the theater production Miranda was certain intriguing to me. Murder mysteries are always fun, but a steampunk murder mystery? That’s an opera? Where all of the actors play their own instruments? Some criticize steampunk style as being too cluttered for its own good; Miranda sounded very much like an overwrought outfit, tooled too elaborately to satisfy. And yet, all of these elements drew me to the HERE theater space in NYC to watch last Friday’s show. Frankly, Miranda managed to take all of the aspects of what steampunk is – thematically, aesthetically, and even, dare I say it, musically – and combine it to create a compelling smash powerhouse of a show.

[Welcome to jury duty for the New Federation of Northern States – Read the Rest on Tor.com]

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Interview with Steampunk Chile–By M Gabriel Colbaugh

Steampunk is a global phenomenon.  One place where it has taken root is South America where the movement is growing quickly.  I reached out to some groups to see if they’d be willing to talk about themselves, and thankfully the fine folks at Steampunk Chile agreed.  Below are their answers to my questions as well as several amazing photographs by Cesar Ravello from their Steampunk Chile Encounter IV.

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Filed under Beyond Victoriana Odds and Ends, Essays, Interviews

Secular & Religious: Christmas Images Around the World

Not steampunk at all, but definitely an interesting take on our globalizing world. Christmas, treated as a secular and a religious holiday, has impacted cultures both Western and non-Western in a myriad of ways. The Boston Globe recently posted a photo set of how Christmas is celebrated worldwide; here are some notable images below.

Christian pilgrims pray in the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, on Christmas Eve December 24, 2010. (REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

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#95 The Sworn Virgins of Albania–Guest blog by Historicity (Was Already Taken)

Note: This was cross-posted with permission from Historicity (Was Already Taken).

The Kanuni i Leke Dukagjinit (The Code of Lekë Dukagjini) is an oral law code which ruled the lives of those residing in the Northern Albanian area for at least five centuries. It was first codified in the 15th century by the Albanian Prince Lekë Dukagjini, but it was not written down until the 19th century. For this reason, scholars are unsure as to its origins.

The Kanun is divided into 12-14 sections (depending on which version you are looking at) dealing with church, family, marriage, house, livestock, property, work, spoken word, honor, damages, criminal law, judicial law, and exemptions and exceptions. In short, it governed every aspect of daily life.

Of women, the Kanun says: “A woman is a sack made to endure.” Under the Kanun, women are the property of their fathers, and later of their husbands and their husbands’ family. There were very few jobs women could hold, and many establishments they were not allowed to enter.

However, what is fascinating about the Kanun is that it provides a way for women to regain control over their lives; it is a loophole, of sorts. In fact, you could even call it empowering if you are speaking from a pre-feminist standpoint.

The loophole was that women had the ability to become a man in the eyes of both family and society. The women who became men were, and still are, known as sworn virgins. Upon taking a vow set forth in the Kanun, a woman would dress like a man, act like a man, work like a man, and command the respect accorded to a man; the only thing she was not allowed to do was to engage in sexual activity.

Sworn virgin Shkurtan Hasanpapaj worked for many years as a high ranking officer for the Communist Party. She supervised many men, and none questioned her authority as a man even as the government body they worked for strove to stamp out adherence to the Kanun.


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