Politics and Steampunk

I just re-read the epic conversation that’s unfolding over on the post about Professor Calamity, and while it was fascinating, it was also pointed out that that particular thread was not the place for that discussion. So here we go!

What the all-knowing Google turned up on Steampunk and politics, for your reading pleasure:

Does Steampunk Have Politics? both introduces the genre apolitically and explores how a Steampunk ideology might develop.

And perhaps that’s why steampunk as a movement has, thus far, avoided addressing the question of its own politics. After all, reserve and deference were key elements in Victorian etiquette, and punk is quite the opposite: would it really be good manners to, for example, publish a steampunk manifesto? But if steampunk is ever going to deserve its provocative suffix, it needs to offer more than simply nostalgia for a retro dream that never was. It needs to suggest ways in which we, as a group, can revive and rethink that lost ideal.

I thought I would have some other articles to throw at you, but that was actually the only one I found. Oops.

However, Google also turned up our own Gaslamp Bazaar; I would remind you that discussion of politics, community, and anything else you care to debate are more than welcome there, as well!

SPM's Professor Calamity Arrested

We have been shocked and appalled (and not to mention saddened) to hear that long-time Steampunk Magazine conspirator, author and all-round inspiration Professor Calamity has been arrested as a result of the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh about a week ago. He is facing two felonies for allegedly running a Twitter account — accused of running a feed of police movements during protests. The police are increasingly finding themselves in hot-water over the protests, and are already being sued for the heavy-handed tactics they used to break up a number of previously-peaceful protests.

Professor Calamity’s house was raided and turned upside-down over a sixteen hour period with the police confiscating everything, including tools, computers, a chemistry set, and even copies of Steampunk Magazine. Already, lawyers have convinced judges to put a stop to this blatant violation of Calamity’s life and privacy, as well as the lives and privacy of the people who live with him.

He has done nothing wrong in this, nothing but dare to oppose the agendas of the world governments. As a result, he is in danger of becoming steampunk’s first political prisoner and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen. Below is a report from someone who was at the Catastrophone Orchestra house in NYC at the time of the raid, please get in touch with them to see what you can do to help (tortugadefense@gmail.com) and circulate this report on your blogs and websites.

Calamity is one of us, and the things the police have taken from him are the things that we all have in our sheds, in our cellars and in our workshops. It is time we steampunks proved that we are a community, and that we will not stand to have one of our own persecuted for it.

On October 1st, 2009, at 6:00am, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (a union of local police departments and the FBI), kicked out the front door to our home—an anarchist collective house in Queens, NY, affectionately known as Tortuga. The first crashes of the battering ram were quickly followed by more upstairs, as the police broke in on 3 sleeping people, destroying bedroom doors that were unlocked.

Three more people, awoken by the most unpleasant means of bounding footsteps, splintering wood, and shouting voices, waited in the basement—their turn at drawn guns and blinding lights came quickly.

We put our hands out where they could see them. They ordered us out of bed. They wouldn’t let us dress, but they did put a random assortment of clothes on some people. We were handcuffed, and although the upstairs and downstairs groups were kept separate initially, we were soon all together, sitting in the living room, positioned like dolls on the couches and chairs. We were in handcuffs for several hours, and we were helpless as our little bird, a Finch we had rescued and were rehabilitating, flew out the open door to certain death, after his cage had been battered by the cops in their zeal to open the upstairs bedroom doors by force. We shouted at them, but they stood there and watched.

And they stood and watched us for hours and hours and hours. 16 hours to be precise, 16 hours of the NYPD and FBI traipsing through our house, confiscating our lives in a fishing expedition related to the G20 protests of September 24th and 25th. The search warrant, when we were finally allowed to read it, mentioned violation of federal rioting laws and was vague enough to allow the entire house to be searched. They kept repeating that we were not arrested, that we were free to go. But being free meant being watched by the FBI, monitored while using the bathroom, not allowed to make phone calls for hours or to observe them ransacking our rooms. Being free meant they took two of us away on bullshit summonses, and even though this was our house, where we lived, if we left, we could not re-enter.

Three of us stayed to the bitter end. Three of us stayed to watch the hazmat team come in to investigate a child’s chemistry set, to see them search the garage on an additional warrant, to sign vouchers for all the things they confiscated as “evidence”—Curious George plush toys, artwork, correspondence with political prisoner Daniel McGowan, birth certificates, passports, the entire video archive of a local media collective, tax records, books, computers, storage devices, cell phones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, flags, banners, posters, photographs and more than can be recounted here.

The apparent impetus for this raid came over a week ago, when two members of our household were arrested, once again at gunpoint, in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. They are accused of being devious masterminds, of “directing” the rollicking G-20 protests, of using technology such as Twitter to “hinder apprehension” of protesters. The two were held on bail, one fetching the ridiculous amount of $30,000 cash, and released 36 hours later after the bond was posted. As of this moment, no additional charges have been levied against the two, nor against any other housemates in the aftermath of the raid.

As anarchists, we are under no illusions about what the State is capable of. We are not the first anarchists to have our house raided, and unfortunately as long as the State remains, we will not be the last. We are, along with other targeted individuals like David Japenga, the outlets for the impotent rage the authorities feel when they lose control, as they did during the G-20 in Pittsburgh. We, that beautiful we, that include Tortuga House and all who find affinity with us, refuse the rigid forms the authorities try and cram a world bursting with infinite possibilities into—He is not a leader, she did not act alone, they are not being directed. Repression is a strategy that the state uses to put us on the defensive, to divert our energies from being a proactive force and instead deal with the terms it has set. We will not lie and say this has not left us reeling, but as time and our dizziness pass, we know that friends surround us. Our resolve is strengthened by this solidarity, and we will not be deterred by this state aggression.

We wish to thank all of our friends and comrades who have stood by us in these difficult few days. Our lawyer filed an injunction on the raid the next morning (October 2nd) that was surprisingly granted- it forbids the authorities from fishing through our belongings until we head back to court on the 16th. In the weeks and months to come we will do our best to share developments as they occur. If you want to keep in touch or find out how you can help please email us at: tortugadefense@gmail.com

The Second Steampunk Soirée!

Almost two years ago now, some of us were lucky enough to be invited to organise the (Short Notice!) Steampunk Soirée. Now, it is with immense personal pleasure that we are finally able to announce the Second Ever (Longer Notice!) Steampunk Magazine Steampunk Soirée which will be happening in Oxford (UK) over Sunday 13th and Monday 14th December.

The Steampunk Soirée is being organised with the help of the fabulous members of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing to coincide with the first ever museum exhibition of steampunk works happening at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science.

We have a number of wonderful things planned, including free meetups and expeditions which are open to anybody wishing to turn up. There will also be the chance to learn to dance with Steampunk Magazine’s Lady Jilian Spagthorpe (the otherwise Carolyn Dougherty) and listen to a range of fantastic live steampunk bands for those of you that purchase tickets.

Tickets are available now through the Steampunk Magazine Soirée page. More information will be posted there as it happens, so be sure to keep an eye out!

New Releases from SPM's Very Own Killjoy

Longest-time Steampunk Magazine conspirator and all-round superstar Margaret Killjoy has two new books out this month, and we encourage you all to get out there and enjoy them, and show Margaret your support.

Being The Exploration of One Fine Summer’ is a photobook for the year which documents everything from mountaintop removal sites in Appalachia, to forest defence in Cascadia, to the butchering of roadkill. It is available on print-on-demand for a bargain at $7 from CreateSpace, or as a free download from Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness.

We are hugely excited about Margaret’s second book, ‘Myth Makers and Lawbreakers’, wherein is presented a number of interviews with writers of anarchist fiction as well as a meticulously researched history of anarchism in fiction. MMLB is available from today for a very reasonable sum through the wonderful AK Press, and has interviews with Steampunk Magazine co-conspirators Jimmy T. Hand and Professor Calamity, as well as artwork by Colin Foran.

As ever, you can keep track of Margaret’s wanderings on Birds Before the Storm

The Zombie Years


Like zombies? Like super-awesome art? Frequent SPM contributor Juan Navarro, has an awesome webcomic you should check out: The Zombie Years a post-apocalypic, zombie-infested wonderland. You can check out Juan’s awesome art in the magazine too, of course –  he has a couple of fantastic pieces in Issue 6!

Changes are Afoot

As many of you will already know by now, there are major changes afoot here at Steampunk Magazine, and it’s long past the time when we should have said something about what you can expect to see over the next few weeks and months.

Since Steampunk Magazine began, its base of operations has always been in the United States. The hard work done by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness to print and distribute the magazine in the US isn’t changing any time soon. However, since Allegra started to help with the editing and publishing of Steampunk Magazine last December, more of the day-to-day running has been done from her base of operations in North Wales in the United Kingdom, where she can bully many of the people that she knows into helping her.

At the moment, we are just laying the groundwork with British small-press printers Fallen Angel Media to begin to offer Steampunk Magazine for sale from the UK. Along with this, we have also started work on establishing an international publishing collective called Vagrants Among Ruins, who will soon be joint-publishing the magazine alongside Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness.

Vagrants will be organised out of the ranks of those who care very much not just about SPM, but about steampunk as a whole, and will include die-hard supporters of steampunk and Steampunk Magazine both old and new. In the months to come, Vagrants will be expanding to include the publication of books (both fictional and factual), ‘academic’ ezines and articles, and even music, all of which will be Creative Commons licensed and offered for as close to cost-price as we can get it, as well as for free download.

Do not be afraid, we will be continuing to put the punk back into steampunk for quite some time yet!

None of these changes are going to be bad news for Steampunk Magazine, which will remain the first priority of this new publishing collective. Furthermore, although any new ventures (such as books, music and the like) will be printed and distributed internationally from the UK, those of you in the US will still be able to purchase your copies of Steampunk Magazine locally through Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness alongside the wonderful selection of things both fine and sundry that they continue to create.

Unfortunately, all of these changes are going to take time, which means that we have had to push back the provisional release date for issue #7 of the Steampunk Magazine from December 2009 to February/March 2010. This will give us the time we need to set up the Vagrants website (keep your eyes peeled for that one!) and to give the SPM site and Gaslamp Bazaar a sorely-needed facelift.

For now, we will be continuing to accept #7 submissions until the end of September, and may possibly open for another wave of submissions in December so that we can ensure that when issue #7 does reach you, it will be the best issue to date!

Lincoln Steampunk Convivial 2009

A week ago now, we were lucky enough to attend the first ever UK-wide steampunk gathering (christened ‘The Asylum’) which was held in Lincoln between 11th and 13th September. With us, we took the first UK-printed copies of Steampunk Magazine (printed by the lovely Mal at Fallen Angel Media in Bristol). The organisers of the event were incredibly kind to us, and provided us with a table on both the Saturday and the Sunday where we got to talk about the magazine, and speak to the other 400 people in attendance.

SPM Mobile

We were all hugely excited to be going, and as you can see we had enormous amounts of fun decorating our exhausted old SPM-mobile for what was to be its final trip before it went to be turned into baked bean tins.

H2O Only

At the event itself we were lucky enough to see several of the British steampunk bands which have been evading us for too long, including Sunday Driver, Trousseaux and The Men that Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing as well as our good friends Ghostfire.

SPM Stall

Between all the music, we set up shop alongside regular SPM contributor Dr Geof and had a wonderful time meeting everyone. We managed to recoup all of our printing costs, which has set us in good stead for opening our new UK printing operation, which will be up and running within the next few weeks.

The Asylum also gave us the opportunity to get to know some more of the fantastic people who are working to develop the steampunk scene in the UK, including Andrew O’Neill of the Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Stay tuned for news of a very special joint venture between the Men and Steampunk Magazine (as well as other very special guests) in the very near future.

Stay tuned!

Artist/Illustrator Wanted for Website Re-Design

At the moment, we are in the process of re-designing the Steampunk Magazine Website. We are also setting up a new, top-secret project which will (among other things) allow us to sell UK-printed copies of the magazine to Europe and much of the rest of the world.

There will be more information on that project in the coming weeks, however, in the meantime we are in need of an artist to help us with the new website. We require two relatively simple illustrations with a printed/engraved look. The fee for the project is $50 – the same amount we pay for the illustrator of one of our magazine covers.

Interested parties should contact collective [at] steampunkmagazine [dot] com for more details.

Steampunk Links

Cascading Chronology by porkshanks Daniel Proulx has started a new blog of Steampunk resources and inspiration, to be found here. The first post is a gallery of Steampunk art found on DeviantArt, and some of it is quite lovely. It is, as I said, still very new, but hopefully many awesome things will ensue once it gets going!

My favorite from the gallery is the piece pictured here, “Cascading Chronology” by the lovely Ms. Porkshanks, which features an awesome little story on her DA.

Steampunk Magazine at the Asylum!

Asylum Logo

Next weekend, steampunks in the UK will get the chance to attend The Asylum Steampunk Convivial, the first steampunk event of its kind in Great Britain.

The Asylum will be showcasing a number of upcoming UK steampunk bands including Trousseaux; Sunday Driver; The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing; and our good friends Ghostfire, who we recently interviewed for Issue #6. There will also be various other events going on, including snuff sampling, a belly dancing workshop, and a number of stores and stalls where you will be able to purchase wares including comics by SPM regular Dr Geof.

The organisers have been kind enough to loan us a table where we will be selling the very first copies of Steampunk Magazine to be printed here in the UK, so come along to see us for a chat, and pick yourself up a copy!