Work has been hectic as of late, and I’m also in the midst of preparing for Dragon*Con. I don’t have as much new stuff planned out for this week as I had hoped, but have you checked out my essay series about multiculturalism in steampunk yet? And see the links below for more good things to read/watch/run in the streets shouting about.
Tag Archives: “southeast asia”
(aka “How I Steampunk”)
Conversations about cross-cultural fashion in steampunk have been commonly assessed from the perspective of a Western, Eurocentric viewer (i.e. taking something and making it “steampunk” is equated with Westernizing a non-Western garment). This viewpoint of fashion is focused on one-way consumption akin to an imperial culture appropriating from a colonized one: the viewpoint that has been prominent during the Age of Empire. Cultural exchange has many viewpoints, however, and fashion, being one of the most immediate forms of public display and consumption, is open to an array of influences that do not have to be connected to a limited, one-way Orientalist dynamic.
An example of this dynamic is the history behind the ao dai.
In all fairness, I probably should not have been reading and watching several other fun books before embarking on Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl. Or rather, putting Windup Girl down after the third, infuriating chapter and letting my resentment fester while reading more fun books and watching Avatar the Last Airbender.
Paolo Bacigalupi is clearly an excellent writer. (He has to be, after all, because he’s been published in plenty of places, and has been nominated for a Nebula.) Windup Girl is filled with suspense, with convoluted politics that only keen minds can cook up, with gritty scenarios that really show the worst of humanity. This is a world where economies run on calories for energy, where tinkering with genes in order to create food (hence, more calories) is a large-scale industry, where gene samples have all sorts of potential and are thus regarded as treasures. Windup Girl piqued my interest for one primary reason: it is set in a science-fictional Thailand, and I was curious to see how my neighbour would be treated. Of course, most people would be reading it for the story; I would be reading it to pick on details. If you don’t care about tiny details like accuracy, narrative trends and revisionism, move along right now. Steampunk Scholar Mike Perschon has a much more kinder review.