Happy International Steampunk Day!

Apparently, today is International Steampunk Day! Why? Because Facebook says so, and if Facebook says so it must be true.

Steampunk Scholar has some speculations as to why June 14th might be Steampunk Day.

A friend and I got dressed up and took some pictures of our latest costumes and then went out for coffee and cake for the occasion, coffee being of course the fuel of all steampunk pursuits (other than steam. And maybe also tea.) Did you celebrate in any way?

Saturday Morning Sci-Fi!

I was going to post a bunch of book reviews I’d saved throughout the week, but then I realized that they were all just this week’s posts from Steampunk Scholar and you could just go to his blog and follow them yourself. (Which you should consider, as they’re always quite insightful.)

But instead, I submit for your consideration: The Invisibility of Women in Science Fiction, an article by Alisa Krasnostein at Hoyden About Town. Her premise for the article is as follows:

“We still see low representations of women in science fiction magazines and anthologies, many awards shortlists, and in criticism of the genre. One of the issues that has become apparent is that those who commentate and review the genre wield much power in directing what works get read and recognised. To me, this seems like a significant wall that needs to be broken down in the quest to see women equally respected and represented in this genre.”

The whole thing is definitely worth a read, especially because I think it could be argued that science fiction’s “woman problem” extends into steampunk. I don’t have it on me right now, but I seem to recall that the first steampunk anthology I ever read included but a single woman, and the past year of book reviews by Steampunk Scholar includes, if my count is correct, one book written by a woman and one co-authored by one.

Do you think steampunk women writers have as difficult a time as other sci-fi women seem to?

Post-Post Apocalyptic?

G.D. Falksen has a post up on steampunk fashion about Steampunk and Post-Apocalyptic Literature… Or, more specifically, how post-apocalyptic fiction is inherently not steampunk.

“Steampunk, as you all well know, envisions a world in which the technology of the Victorian era is built up to an even higher and more elaborate level of development, while retaining its distinctive Victorian aesthetic. Naturally, this kind of technology demands an equally well-developed infrastructure to build, maintain and fuel its machinery. If a society lacks easy access to metal, water and some sort of fuel source like coal, it is in a poor position to develop even basic, historical steam technology, let alone the widespread and advanced systems commonly encountered in steampunk.”

My immediate reaction is to disagree – Technology and innovation can exist in pretty scare circumstances, and a recently-collapsed industrial society would certainly provide a wealth of scrap pieces to play with. Falksen does address the idea of a steampunk society after an apocalypse, but he calls it something different: Post-post apocalypse.

“So what if someone wants to explore what happens when a society in a post-apocalyptic world reorganizes and redevelops itself into an advanced, urban and highly industrial steampunk society? This is something that I like to refer to as post post-apocalyptic. … The early stages of post post-apocalyptic are characterized by small-scale but rapidly growing experiments in industrial technology, such as one sees in the first few decades of the 19th century. Inevitably, a post post-apocalyptic society advances further into an identifiable urban industrial society along the lines of the mid and late Victorians, although this may be accomplished at the same rate or even faster than in the historical Victorian era.”

I’m curious as to why urban is a requirement; places like mines and farms can have pretty advanced technology while still being rural. I see his point that industry does not really lend itself to an apocalyptic scenario, but I’d suggest that an industrial society need not be a requirement for a steampunk setting, either. Then again, I tend to see steampunk as more of a foggy aesthetic inspired by but not based on history, whereas Mr. Falksen keeps the historic roots of steampunk close.

Thoughts, anyone? Can steampunk be apocalyptic?

Weekend Link Roundup

Steampunk Scholar has a fun post of entertaining Wells vs. Verne pictures! Who would win in a fight? My money’s on Verne…

Dru Pagliassotti has been in Japan this month! There’s nothing particularly steampunk about these posts, I admit, but if good travel journals interest you you’ll probably enjoy reading hers.

Speaking of Japan, Voyages Extraordinaries is having a giveaway contest with Miyazaki movies!

Elsewhere in the world, Beyond Victoriana has a guest post by Jaymee Goh on the Golden Age of Islam. My current steampunk entertainment (a roleplay game with school friends) features an empire inspired by this period, so I was excited to find the post!

What have you been reading lately? Leave your links in the comments!

Steampunk World's Fair

This weekend I was at Steampunk World’s Fair! The event filled more than two hotels when it only expected to fill one, so I knew it’d be big going in, but the entire thing was positively fantastic: An endless carnival of performances, discussions, costumes and dancing!

The best panel that I went to was the Steampunk Social Issues panel, moderated by Ay-leen of Beyond Victoriana and featuring panelists Jha of Silver Goggles, Jake Von Slatt of Steampunk Workshop, Lucretia of the Penny Dreadfuls and Emilie P. Bush, author of “Chenda and the Airship Brofman”. We talked about gender, class, and race in Steampunk, and it was awesome to see so many people willing to get up and talk about serious things at 11am!

I thought the discussion on class was particularly interesting – of those categories it’s the one I’ve read the least about, but it was hard NOT to notice class at the Fair. Most people’s costumes, especially the more “Victorian-looking” ones, were decidedly upper-middle class or aristocracy. But the stories I like the best – the ones that put the “punk” in steampunk, as it were – tend to be more about working-class adventurers than gentlemen scientists or lady explorers. So while I was admiring everyone’s lovely costumes, the Fair got me thinking about the stories we value in our personas and costumes. And while I had to leave the panel early, such awesome discussions are going on right now at the Great Steampunk Debate as well!

It was nice to finally meet some of you awesome people in person, thanks for a fantastic fair!

The Great Steampunk Debate

For those of you who haven’t yet seen the latest issue of SteamPunk Magazine, just a quick reminder that big things are happening in the steampunk community this spring.

We have got together with some of the people behind a myriad of other steampunk magazines, communities, websites and groups to bring you the Great Steampunk Debate, which is running between 1st May and 30th June this year. The point of the debate is to provide all steampunks with a neutral, welcoming environment in which they can come together and discuss ideology, politics, personal belief and how they all interact with steampunk as a counterculture.

The debate will be watched over be a number of moderators to ensure that the forum on which the debate is taking palce remains polite and open to all, encouraging us all to discuss our personal beliefs, and ultimately to come together in the realisation that we are all one community, and that we are all in this together.

The debate begins this Saturday. Be sure to come along, talk, challenge your views and make a few new friends.

www.greatsteampunkdebate.com

Beware

(via Gala Darling)

Many Steampunk Music & Events

For those of you interested in the steampunk music scene here in the UK (or in steampunk music more generally) there’s certainly a lot going on at the moment. So much so, in fact, that we feel obliged to tell you about some of it.




By way of new releases, over the next two months there are some absolute crackers. For starters, Ghostfire’s world-renowned ‘The Last Steampunk Waltz’ is out tomorrow (24th April) from when it will be available for purchase through their website. Not only is the waltz the sort of catchy crowd-pleaser that you’d expect from Ghostfire, but both the title track and the B-Side ‘Hand of Glory’ are thoroughly well-recorded and is guaranteed to get you looking for your dancing shoes, whether you can waltz or not!



Next up, Now That’s What I Call Steampunk! Volume 1, the debut album from The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing is out on the 24th May. The Men are pretty much the only steampunk band who are as committed to putting the punk back into steampunk as we are (kicking and screaming, if necessary), and as far as we’re concerned that alone makes this worth a listen. The album is available through Amazon with more information appearing on The Men’s MySpace page as and when they have it. And, if the glowing review that we gave it in the latest issue of the magazine isn’t recommendation enough, then how’s this for you: SteamPunk Magazine’s UK publishing collective Vagrants Among Ruins are so impressed with Now That’s What I Call Steampunk! that they have teamed up with The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing to bring you a special, wax cylinder edition of the album (the first music release including a wax cylinder for the best part of a century) which you can find on the Vagrants website.




Last, but by no means least, Brighton-based band Bitter Ruin (who are going to be playing at our Seaside Spectacular in June) have a new album, Hung, Drawn & Quartered out two days later on 26th May. We will be reviewing the album in Issue #8 of SPM (due out in October) so we aren’t going to say too much just now, but suffice to say that Bitter Ruin are one of the best bands that we’ve encountered in a long, long time and Hung, Drawn & Quartered is them at their very best. Again, you can find out more about the album on the band’s website.

If all of that isn’t enough for you, then there are a couple of events happening as well—both in the UK and online. First and foremost, Trousseaux (who shall be sharing the stage with Bitter Ruin at the Seaside Spectacular) have got together with MC Elemental of ‘Cup of Brown Joy’ fame (who we recently met—and managed to get into trouble—at White Mischief’s ‘Great Exhibition’ in London) as well as Ghostfire and The Peryls to bring you the Steampunk Musical Showcase & Magical Emporium at Hector’s House in Brighton on 28th May (starting at 8.30pm). Tickets are £5, and should you decide to come along then be sure to check in with us there. We may, or may not be bringing some copies of SteamPunk Magazine with us, depending on how we’re feeling!

The very last thing we have to tell you about is the competition being held by our very good friends Sunday Driver. They have recently released the short video ‘Exceedingly Good Steam’, which is not only very good fun, but also contains a number of unexpected cover versions which they are invited people to guess at. If you get them right, then you could win two copies of their album and a whole host of other goodies. The tie-breaker is a caption competition which they have asked SteamPunk Magazine editor Allegra Hawksmoor to help judge, so you had best get your thinking caps on!

But Where Are The Goggles?

Here’s a quick link for you all… YIPE! Magazine, a costume fanzine, just came out with an issue on Steampunk costuming!

It features a wide variety of inspiring steampunk costume pics, examining each and asking that all-important question: Does it have goggles? (Hint: Not every costume needs them!) There are also some lovely articles about historic costuming and (of course) the punk in Steampunk, and a short story. Definitely worth a look for those of you interested in costuming!

More on the "Punk" in Steampunk

Kevin Steil of Airship Ambassador, a shiny new steampunk blog, has an interesting discussion of the “punk” in “Steampunk,” defining it as a “reaction, rebellion and resolution” against contemporary society. Here’s my favorite part:

“Steampunks will find their reaction, rebellion and resolution spanning the spectrum of motivational reasons. Perhaps it’s the desire to learn more, do more and be more, or the need to break free of internal or external imposed limitations, or an inherent revulsion at the excess materialism clothed in a complete lack of style in a commerce-driven society.

Our group resolutions, our common acts of rebellion, take the form of corsets and top hats, of artisanship and intellectualism, of re-creation and re-imagining.”

Go read the whole thing!