Steampunk in Oxford English Dictionary

A quick bit of news, via Time Magazine – the word “Steampunk” has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, with the definition ” a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advance technology.” Congratulations, steampunk world! We are now as legitimate as “cheeseball,” “vuvuzuela,” “hater,” and “The Interwebs,” among other gems of the English language added to the dictionary at the same time.

It’s the Wave of the Past!

The fabulous blog Free the Princess has only recently made it onto my radar by publishing a series about Steampunk and Multiculturalism by Ay-Leen the Peacemaker (It’s coming this way next, don’t worry!), but this post by K. Marie Criddle from a while ago was too funny not to share:

Katie at Airship Ambassador, Pt 2!

Hello everyone!
I’m enjoying my last few weeks of break before school starts, so there probably won’t be much regular posting for a bit, but here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion: The second half of my interview at Airship Ambassador, featuring a small hoard of links and my suggestions about what to call a group of steampunks, is up for your reading enjoyment!

Katie at Airship Ambassador!

This is a few days old, but I thought I should point out… The fabulous Kevin over at Airship Ambassador has put up the first part of an interview with me, in which I address such thorny questions as “How would you define steampunk?” and “Why does everyone call you ‘Spiffy,’ anyway?” It’s fun times, and there are some interviews with far more interesting people than myself on his blog also, so I recommend you check it out!

Women and Whitechapel Gods

I knew I had Whitechapel Gods by S. M. Peters waiting on hold for me at the library, so I waited until I could read it to read Steampunk Scholar’s review of it. I finally got through both of them, and this quote from the review stuck out to me:

”Despite some narrative missteps, S.M. Peters’ Whitechapel Gods is one of the most representative works of twenty-first century steampunk currently in print. No other book is as successful as capturing the secondary world of grit, grime, and gilding that the subculture, art, and fashion have suggested.”

And indeed, the world Peters’ has created is fantastic. I didn’t give it as careful a read as it deserved, but it was undoubtably steampunk-y, full of big dark machines and people with mechanical arms and factories and uprisings and all those lovely things. Only one element was glaringly lacking, and that was women.

There are, for the bulk of the book, exactly three women of any importance:: Missy, our “hooker with a heart of gold;” Giselle, who runs a brothel and mostly is in Missy’s head calling her a whore; and Mama Engine, one of the gods of Whitechapel. There’s Mrs. Flower and her girls who run an opium den and don’t really do anything for the plot, a handful of Missy’s fellow prostitutes at the end, and occasional references to someone’s wife, or to the women and children hiding safely while the men do the fighting.

At first, I didn’t notice because Missy is a pretty interesting character, and by the end she helps save the day. But there are long middle parts where she’s either being noted for her unladylike behavior or a helpless pawn of the Bad Guy, and when she finally gets the revenge she’s spent the whole book seeking she’s treated like a madwoman. Of the other two women who contribute to the plot, one is a generic Evil Woman with no character development of any kind, and one is a machine-deity whose biggest contribution to the plot is having an “affair” with the Bad Guy which is written more like a sexual assault.

It’s a very Victorian steampunk world, for all its techno-monsters, and conversations with women (read: Missy) throughout the book are invariably laced with references to propriety. After killing the bad guy in a delusional, suicidal rage and saving the day, we don’t see Missy again until she’s out in the English countryside, every bit the proper young woman, restored from her evil whoring ways. There aren’t any women to be seen in any of the Big Final Battles – they’re mentioned as victims of the gods and their abuses, but while the men do the manly thing and fight back, the women are sent to hide.

This is just one book and a pretty shallow analysis, but if bothered me to see women so poorly represented in “one of the most representative works of twenty-first century steampunk,” especially when I’m not sure the problem is unique to this work. (My favorite steampunk anthology, Extraordinary Engines, features exactly one story with a female main character.) Suggestions of books that do the whole gender thing better would be greatly appreciated!

Deceptive Doors

When I someday make my fabulous steampunk dream house, my doors are going to look like this:

Via Curbly.

Recycled Robo-Elephant

I’ve seen some pretty awesome things made of reclaimed materials – The Minister’s Treehouse, for example – but this one takes the cake for now:

It’s a 12-meter-high mechanical elephant, made of 45 tons of reclaimed wood and steel. It can carry almost 50 passengers at a time. There’s more pictures (and the original article) over at Inhabitat.

Today in Dork News: The Legend of Korra

I really, really meant to have a serious interesting post up sometime soon for you all, but instead, I give you this:

If any of you follow the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender, rest assured that the clusterf*ck that was the Last Airbender movie is being remedied by a new mini-series, featuring a girl waterbending Avatar and a STEAMPUNK INSPIRED CITY, called “The Legend of Korra.”

*geeky spazzy excitement*

I am possibly the only person thrilled about this, but I thought I’d share it just in case.

Classy, Classy Star Wars

Steampunk Star Wars has been done, but here’s some Victorian portraits of Star Wars characters that made me smile, for your amusement.

Here’s my favorite:

Last Chance for the Seaside Spectacular!

For those of you in the UK, this coming weekend the folks at SteamPunk Magazine will be beside the seaside for the SteamPunk Magazine Seaside Spectacular at the Little Marlborough Theatre in Brighton.

Tickets and more information are still availible on our Events page, and you’ll also be able to pick tickets up on the door if you can’t get them beforehand.

We also now have a schedule for all of you who are coming, and an introduction to the dance workshops being held by Lady Jillian Spagthorpe. You can find both of those wonderful things right here.

If you are coming along, then we look forwards to seeing you there!