Tag Archives: women

Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About–by Magpie Killjoy and Professor Calamity

The Victorians invented sex.

Okay, okay, there’s biological evidence suggesting their forebears figured it out too, but our cultural understanding of sex in the western world is more steeped in the late 19th century than even us steampunks would care to admit. Sure, they were notoriously prude, but the Victorians were obsessed with sex. They just lied about it, constantly.

[Read “Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About” on Tor.com]

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Filed under Essays, History

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]


Filed under Essays, History

#100 On Madam Tinubu – Guest Blog by Eccentric Yoruba

Note: This essay is cross-posted with permission from Eccentric Yoruba.

Madam Efunroye Tinubu was among the most prominent and powerful Yoruba women in pre-colonial Nigeria (early to mid 19th century). Other renowned Yoruba women from that period were Iyalode Efunsetan Aniwura and Madam Omosa, both of whom deserve posts of their own.

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Filed under Essays, History

Steampunk Emma Goldman Featured in the New York Times

Friend of the blog, Miriam Rocek, aka Steampunk Emma Goldman recently was interviewed by a local New York Times correspondent for a documentary about America’s most famous anarchist and her old haunts in the East Village. I’m thrilled to see how steampunk is gaining some well-deserved recognition for its political potential. Watch the video below and read the accompanying article.

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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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More Lesbian Steampunk Stories: A Roundtable with Steam-Powered II Authors by Jaymee Goh on Tor.com

If this week proves anything, it’s two things: steampunk is still going strong as a trend, and it’s growing. And if this anthology proves anything, it’s that we really like lesbians. After Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories came out last year, Torquere Books realized it was pretty popular! And thus JoSelle Vanderhooft signed on again to bring us Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories (with an implicit promise that she’ll bring us another, and another, and another…). Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories comes out October 26 from Torquere Books, and you can place pre-orders by emailing JoSelle directly. If you like lesbian fantasy anthologies in general, JoSelle has edited a whole lot of them.

So, what can we expect from this new anthology?

[Read the Rest on Tor.com’s Steampunk Week]


Filed under Interviews

Steampunk Appreciations: This is American Steampunk (And How!): Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century Series on Tor.com

Photo credit: Ben Z Mund

When Cherie Priest entered the steampunk scene years ago, she stumbled upon some comments on a message board declaring that American steampunk wasn’treally steampunk, since it had to be based in Victorian England. Priest, who had one more book under contract with Tor Books at the time, saw this as a challenge. Thus, Boneshaker, the first in her Clockwork Century series, was born.

Who knew that an attempt to squish some internet forum posturing would end up as a three book (and one novella) ongoing series, with nods for both the Hugo and the Nebula and wins from the PNBA and Locus Magazine for Best Science Fiction Novel? Not to mention that many consider Boneshaker to be the watershed novel marking the popular rise of the steampunk subgenre in SFF.

What is it about Priest’s Clockwork Century series that makes it stand out? Well, you can start by reading the reviews on Tor.com: BoneshakerDreadnoughtGanymede, and Clementine (the novella). After the jump, I’ll get more in-depth about various aspects that keep me reading. And to note: as with all versions (or re-imaginings) of history, it’s not perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I highly enjoy the Clockwork Century books and I’ll continue to follow them. But this is an appreciation, and one can’t truly appreciate anything without acknowledging both its strengths and its weaknesses.

[Read the Rest on Tor.com’s Steampunk Week.]

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Filed under Essays, Review

“Will this Sub Sink their Battleship?” A Review of Cherie Priest’s GANYMEDE

In Cherie Priest’s newest installment of her Clockwork Century series, Ganymede, something lurks in the bayous of Texan-occupied New Orleans. Ganymede, the only-known working submarine, is a war machine that could finally put an end to the Civil War, if only someone knew how to drive it. While the occupying army sweeps the swamps in search for this machine, one woman — Miss Josephine Early, a mixed-race madam of a high-scale brothel — is desparate to find a pilot who can work this machine. And that pilot might be none other than her old flame, the airship pirate Andan Cly…

Throw in some walking dead, some voodoo common sense, and a pirate cove and you’ve got another thrilling addition to Priest’s intricate alternate history steampunk world.

[Take her down, cap’n. Mild Spoilers, ahoy! Read the Rest on Tor.com]

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#88 Pakistani Fashion Designer Ali Fateh’s “Steampunk Elegance” Collection

When steampunk hits Pakistan’s fashion scene, what does it look like?

Well, designer Ali Fateh gives us an idea.  He recently came out with his handbag collection “Steampunk Elegance.” Fateh, a prominent designer known for his luxury handbags, premiered this collection back in July. The handbags boast elegant lines, bejeweled designs, and metal motifs.

Image courtesy of Maram & Aabroo. Click for more info

Fateh received his degree in fashion from the International Fine Arts College in Maimi, Florida, and then lived and worked in New York as a designer for several years. In 2002, he decided to return to Pakistan. There, he spotted a rising trend in luxury items, especially handbags, and turned his design skills to creating a distinctive line of goods featuring sleek designs and vibrant colors. As his international reputaion grew, his work has been featured on runways for Paris Couture Week, 2007, Bridal Asia, Delhi, Hong Kong, New York , Fall/Winter 09 Bahrain Fashion Week, Fall/Winter 09 Dubai Fashion Fiesta, and Islamabad Fashion Week 2011.

Image courtesy of Maram & Aabroo. Click for more info.

What remains equally gorgeous to his handbags is the photoshoot created around them, featuring talented work from accomplished women in their respective industries: photographers Maram & Aabroo and actress Aamina Sheikh.
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#87 Fascinating Women: Cornelia Sorabji–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: This is cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.

Cornelia Sorabji

Though Indian (Parsi) and a woman, Cornelia Sorabji accomplished the unimaginable in becoming the first woman to practice law in India and Britain. Sorabji was born into a large family of nine children, her father, Reverend Sorabji Karsedji, a Parsi Christian, and her mother, Francina Ford, an Indian who had been adopted and raised by a British couple. Sorabji’s mother was devoted to the cause of women’s education, and made her mark upon Indian society with the establishment of several girls’ schools in Puna (then known as Poona). It was through her mother’s contacts that opened the door for Sorabji to become the first woman to take the Bachelor of Civil Laws exam at Oxford University in 1892.

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