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Showing posts by: Ay-leen the Peacemaker click to see Ay-leen the Peacemaker's profile
Oct 31 2013 9:05am

What Happens When We Speak: On Con Harassment and Fandom

Keep Calm and Backup

“So I heard that you won Tumblr,” a coworker joked with me the other day.

He was referring to the maelstrom of activity that was triggered when I posted about my con harassment experience at New York Comic Con by the film crew of the YouTube web series Man Banter, hosted by Mike Babchik. I won’t reiterate everything that happened, but kept pretty good documentation. Other industry professionals and geek news sources had done the same, too. There is a petition out, created by the activist group 18 Million Rising in order to hold Babchik’s employer, Sirius XM Radio, accountable for his actions since Babchik had gotten into the convention using his job credentials. Since the incident happened, New York Comic Con had assured that they will tighten their safety policies, and I even had a nice wrap-up interview about making convention spaces safer with NYCC show manager Lance Fensterman.

Okay, that ugly event got all wrapped up with a nice li’l bow of resolution; we can leave this in the fandom corner until the next big misogynistic thing that happens to women at conventions hits the fan (but oh wait, it just did as I typed this). At this moment, I feel like I can voice something that I’ve been holding in this whole time: I am lucky. And it shouldn’t have to be that way.

[On speaking out and staying silent]

Oct 10 2013 4:00pm

A Steampunk’s Guide to New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con is upon us! Let’s see what the largest geek event in NYC has to offer for the brassy ‘n’ sassy set.

Flip through the suggested list below for panels to scope out at the Javits Center. Included are various “of steampunk interest” events too, (which explains Legend of Korra and Doctor Who among these items. But c’mon, who wouldn’t want to see John Barrowman?)

Comment below with any suggestions of other panels you’re excited about, vendors to pursue, and afterparties to crash!

[Fasten your goggles folks!]

Oct 2 2013 10:30am

Steampunk Events for October 2013

October has always been a big month for steampunk events (must be the “dressing-up” appeal). From conventions to lectures to picnics to Halloween balls, we have a list of noteworthy events, assembled with the help from Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador and Mr. Jordan Bodewell of Sepiachord.com and VictorianAdventureEnthusiast.com.

Want to see your event here? Email me at attic.hermit@gmail.com before October 15th to get your event name-dropped for next month.

[Read More]

Aug 28 2013 4:00pm

Steampunk Events for September 2013

Steampunk Events September 2013Starting with the tail end of Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track (featured last month), this fall’s steampunk events season continues with fashion shows and art galleries in London, a continent-wide network of conventions reaching across the UK, Hungary, France and Spain, and many more. With the help of my co-contributor Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador and this month’s guest contributor Pablo Miguel Alberto Vazquez aka the Mr. Saturday of Mr. Saturday & Sixpence we bring to you the our monthly listing of steampunk and steam-friendly events from around the world.

Missed seeing your event here? Comment below. Looking to see your future event listed? Email attic.hermit@gmail.com before September 15th with the details!

[September 2013 steampunk events worldwide]

Aug 26 2013 8:00am

A Divided Nation in Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints

Boxers and Saints Gene Luen YangA well-placed ampersand can imply many things: a fighting duo, a complimentary pair, or polarizing opposites. In the case of Boxers & Saints, the members of the Boxer Rebellion and their opponents, Westerners and Chinese Christians, retain all three elements in their interactions.

What is engrossing about this graphic novel diptych—the newest work from Gene Luen Yang of American-Born Chinese fame—is how intertwined the stories are, literally and thematically. This dynamic is presented in its bold and eye-catching box design. On one side, the aggressively commanding ghost of Ch’in Shin-Huang, the first emperor of China. On the other, the grim glowing figure of martyr Joan of Arc. Split between them are two young, wide-eyed faces of Little Bao and Vibiana. They stare out at the reader, serious and uncertain. Their expressions symbolize the heart of Boxers & Saints: a story that unpacks the anxieties of an unstable nation, and unflinchingly portrays the people who become swept up by the winds of history.

[They fought for China. Mild spoilers.]

Aug 2 2013 12:30pm

Steampunk Events for August 2013

The dog days of summer are upon us, so it’s time to dress down and put up your parasols. Join fellow steampunks on time-traveling weekends, picnicking at castles, or at one of the mega-conventions of the year, Dragon*Con! Thanks to Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, and our monthly guest contributor Doctor Zachariah E. Fantastique of Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders for their help in gathering some of the most exciting steampunk and steam-friendly events this month.

If we overlooked yours, feel free to plug in the comments. If you’d like to see your event here next month, please email me at attic.hermit@gmail.com with the details by August 15th

All descriptions are from the event website or Facebook, unless stated otherwise.

[August events tally-ho!]

Jul 3 2013 11:00am

Steampunk Events for July 2013

Steampunk Super Culture

While fandom’s getting ready for one of the biggest media-geeky explosions this month, we’re previewing the steampunk events line-up at SDCC here. For those who can’t attend this year, tons of other events are happening across the US and around the world, including steampunk at Comic Con in Paris, a brand-new event in Cambridge, England, the re-creation of a fantastical Moroccan street market in Salt Lake City, and Tokyo’s vision of a futuristic Wild, Wild East meeting the West.

Thanks go out to Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador for his recs. As always, if we missed out on your event, feel free to drop some info in the comments. People interested in showcasing their event here for next month can email me at attic.hermit@gmail.com with the deets by July 15th.

All descriptions are taken from the event’s website or Facebook unless stated otherwise.

[Read more.]

May 31 2013 12:00pm

Steampunk Events for June 2013

Steampunk Events for June 2013

In June, steampunks worldwide will celebrate International Steampunk Day on the 14th. (And why June 14th? Because that’s when Charles Babbage first proposed his plans for the difference engine to the Royal Astronomical Society, that’s why). Throughout the month, however, there are many shindigs, fêtes, and celebrations going on from Argentina to Ontario to merry ol’ England. Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador and our guest contributor OctopodiCon con chair Noddy Brothers join me in gathering a list of steampunk, and of-steam-interest events. Extra props go to Noddy for being especially excited about contributing: not only does she offer her Top Three Picks, but added several more to “Additional Events Around the World” section.

Did we miss yours? Give a shout out in the comments. Have a steampunk event for August you want to see listed here? Contact me at attic.hermit@gmail.com with the details before June 15th.

All descriptions are taken from the event website or Facebook Page unless otherwise stated.

[Steampunk events for June]

May 17 2013 4:00pm

“Going Native” in Steampunk: James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson’s Vintage Tomorrows

Review Vintage Tomorrows James H carrott Brian David JohnsonRecently, everyone and their grandmother are trying to place steampunk in the grander scope of things. Most of pop culture has poked at it at this point. Many in the SF/F community gives the subculture a passing nod (or are slowly edging away, since, being early adapters by nature, quite a few in sci-fi are tired of it already).

Still, questions about steampunk have set people in pursuit of the deeper meanings behind the aesthetic movement. Two years ago, Intel’s futurist Brian David Johnson wanted to answer the biggest one about steampunk’s rise: “Why now?” He was joined by a cultural historian James Carrott and they filmed a documentary, and also wrote a book by the same name: Vintage Tomorrows (or two books, actually. Steampunking Our Future: An Embedded Historian’s Notebook is the free e-book companion you can get online).

[Read more]

May 3 2013 4:00pm

Steampunk Events for May 2013

Steampunk events for May 2013

May has always been a packed time for steampunk events, and this year is no exception. With the help of Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador and our delightful guest contributor “the Mad Sonictist” Veronique Chevalier, we’ve gathered a listing of top steampunk and of-steampunk-interest festivities from around the world. This month includes nine conventions of all shapes and sizes, from a CthulhuCon / film fest for the Lovecraftians buffs to a cruise along the historic Bridgewater Canal in Manchester, UK.

Did we miss your shindig? Feel free to plug in the comments thread. Any upcoming events for June can also be sent to me at attic.hermit@gmail.com before May 15th to be featured here next month.

All descriptions are taken from the event’s website or Facebook page unless stated otherwise.

[May steampunk events around the world]

Apr 19 2013 4:00pm

The More Magical Side of Steampunk in Liesel Schwarz’s A Conspiracy of Alchemists

Review A Conspiracy of Alchemists Liesel Schwarz

Liesel Schwarz’s A Conspiracy of Alchemists lines up the usual suspects in steampunk fiction nowadays. Cue the headstrong female lead, throw in some airships, technological gizmos, and envious descriptions of fashion, coat everything in a veneer of brass and cogs. Yet this novel also attempts to move away from well-trodden territory, and you can tell straight away with the cheeky cover design. The Eiffel Tower establishes a setting away from good ol’ Britannia. Glowing glyphs and splashy neon font signal a flash of magic and a pinch of punk too. The end result: Schwarz’s debut novel is a fluffy steampunk adventure that toes the line of gaslamp fantasy. There are fairies, the occult, mad science, and secret conspiracies. What more can a reader ask for?

[Mild spoilers ahead]

Mar 29 2013 11:00am

Steampunk Events for April 2013

Steampunk Events April 2013

Who wants to go on an airship ride in a California ghost town? Or travel via a historical tram to another world in Amsterdam? Or go to Doctor Who-themed costume ball? All that and more is happening in April. Whether your crew wants to participate in the 2nd annual Airship Games at the Steampunk Empire Symposium, or you just want to spend a nice afternoon in with some tea, cravats, and good company, we have a range of listings big and small from the steampunk community. Thanks always to Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, and our guest contributor, the prolific SF/F author Cat Rambo for helping me gather these from across the aether.

Please give a shout-out in the comments if your event had missed our radar. Want to see your May happening featured here? Drop me a line at attic.hermit@gmail.com by April 15 (tax day!) with the deets.

All descriptions have been adapted from event websites or Facebook pages, unless stated otherwise.

[Fun times beneath the cut]

Mar 1 2013 4:15pm

Steampunk Events for March 2013

As spring approaches, events come out of the woodwork, it seems. Celebrate Italy’s first steampunk convention or camp out at Old Tuscon’s film studio for a wild good time. Travel with the Tokyo Inventors Society as they travel to New Dublin on their latest adventure. Find a whatchamacallit at the Thingymajigy Fayre in San Antonio. Have a pint with the authors of the upcoming gaslamp fantasy anthology Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells. All this and more has roots out from across the aetherwebz by myself, Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador, and our guest contributors Ariane Wolfe and Mark Anderson, the founders & co-chairs of the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition.

Miss seeing your event here? Feel free to drop a comment below.  Want to see yours here for April? Email me at attic.hermit@gmail.com by the ides of March with the details.

[March events—In like a locomotive, out like a paddleboat…]

Jan 30 2013 5:00pm

Steampunk Events for February 2013

Steampunk Events for February 2013Brrrrr—February weather isn’t encouraging to the social set, but there are some events cropping up that I’d brave these temperatures for (or wish I could hop a plane to!). Splice a sequence or roll a D20 at a biopunk-themed gaming convention in Rhode Island, celebrate a week of retrofuturistic goodness in Barcelona, or discover your role in solving a real-life murder at a Prohibtion-era bar in NYC. Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, and guest contributor Lucretia Dearfour of Nerd Caliber and the Copper Claw join me in rooting out this coming month’s steampunk and of-steam-interest events.

If we had missed out on featuring yours, don’t hesitate to plug away in the comments section. And if you have an event in March that we should know about, email me at attic.hermit@gmail.com by February 15th to be featured here in the future.

[Steampunk events to stave off the chill (and cabin fever)]

Jan 24 2013 11:00am

Steampunk Hits the Mainstream! (Again)

IBM has dubbed steampunk the new

(a.k.a. The tempest in a teapot.)

This past week, the steampunk community expressed both apoplectic shock and exuberant clamoring over a press release from IBM’s Social Sentiment Index predicting that steampunk will be a retail trend from 2013 – 2015. After that announcement, the media picked up and ran with it, as the media usually does: Forbes reported the news, followed by Time, and soon all of the sci-fi and geek blogs were buzzing about the “discovery” of steampunk by the rest of pop culture. Even James Blaylock, one of the old-timers who started the subgenre with K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers, put in his two cents on HuffPo to explain what steampunk is to the masses.

Of course, with every new wave of attention, the steampunk community is reminded of all of the other times when people thought the aesthetic movement was hitting the mainstream (for good or for ill). Remember the elation when The New York Times covered it? Or how many cringed when Steampunk Palin went viral? Or how about that Justin Bieber video? (Click at your own risk.)

And wasn’t rococopunk being praised as the next big thing a couple of weeks ago?

[So steampunks, cool down your engines.]

Jan 10 2013 3:00pm

Gearing up for 2013: A Steampunk Convention Listing

Gearing up for 2013: A Steampunk Convention Listing

2013 is the year to get ready for some pseudo-time-travelling, what-if wanderings, and speculative festivities of the dapper variety. I have a list of 39 steampunk and steam-friendly conventions and one-day events from around the world, gathered with help from Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador.

Since new steampunk cons spring out of the gearwork every so often, if I had missed yours, please drop a comment (and email me about featuring it for my monthly steampunk events roundup).

All descriptions taken from the convention website or Facebook page.

[Steampunk conventions worldwide]

Dec 21 2012 11:00am

Steampunk Events for January 2013

Steampunk Events for January 2013After you’ve survived the holiday revelries of 2012 (and one apocalypse false alarm... for now), is it too soon to start off 2013 with even more chronologically-askew entertainments? Attend a voyage into the past-that-never-was onboard The Queen Mary. Delve into a delectable brunch at the steampunk-esque diner in Newton, MA, or purview the artistic creations of international artists in Barcelona. Accompanying myself and Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador this month is Jeff Mach, the infamous bearded and bespectacled gentleman behind steampunk events such as Steampunk World’s Fair and the Anachronism.

Anyone we have missed out are welcome to shout-out their event in the comments.  Folks interested in having their event featured for February can drop me a line at attic.hermit@gmail.com with the details by January 15th.

[Ring in the New Year]

Dec 12 2012 1:00pm

Collecting Lucid Nightmares and Nostalgic Reveries in Ekaterina Sedia’s Moscow But Dreaming

A book review of Moscow But Dreaming by Ekaterina SediaEkaterina Sedia’s Moscow But Dreaming draws upon the inner lives and outer terrors threatening her characters. In her first collection of short fiction, gathering together works that date back to 2005, the weight of history falls upon people’s shoulders as they struggle against cultural forces greater than they themselves can fully comprehend.

It’s easy to brand this collection as a melancholic book because Sedia is tapping into some sort of Russian national psyche. Many of these stories contain tantalizing and evocative references about the country’s national history and culture. These twenty-one stories, however, transcend national boundaries as Moscow But Dreaming addresses the themes of misplacement, loss, and yearning. Again and again, her characters cope with being stuck in places they did not choose to be in, or they wish to be in another elsewhere that they cannot access anymore. They become lost in the past and anxious about the future. Their emotional precariousness manifests itself in a myriad of ways, psychologically and literally. Monsters lurk under children’s beds and zombie Lenin stalks university hallways. Mythological heroes become office workers and long for noble deaths. A sock puppet rebels against its manipulated nature and peasant girls change into dormice.

Surreal and haunting, Moscow But Dreaming are fantasies that create a menacing and occasionally darkly comic vision of how people’s lives become infused by nightmares.

[Lives that they cannot wake from]

Nov 30 2012 11:00am

What is to Be Done?: Ann Vandermeer’s Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution

What is to be Done? Ann Vandermeer’s new Steampunk anthology Steampunk III: Steampunk RevolutionGood story anthologies aren’t a ramshackle bunch of pieces crammed in any order—like CD albums, there should be a flow, a greater focus beyond the individual stories. These anthologies conduct conversations inside of them: selections that tease, question, argue back and forth with each other, as well as tie together key themes and concepts. Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, moreso than the previous volumes in Tachyon Publications’ well-known retrofuturist series, demonstrates the power of a well-orchestrated collection.

Steampunk has proven to be particularly popular in short form, and for round three, Ann Vandermeer acts as the sole editor to select from the subgenre’s rich offerings. Full disclosure here: Ann is one of our newest additions to the short story acquisitions staff on Tor.com, and the introduction to this anthology was also featured here on Tor as part of our recent Steampunk Week. So I already knew a bit about what to expect when the book arrived.

What distinguishes this volume from the previous two is its sharpened sociopolitical focus. Namely, how can literature instigate revolution? Is that even possible anymore? Many old-school methods of communication to the masses aren’t as effective in our global, digital era. Twitter can organize better than handing out radical pamphlets on the street. TV shows and websites alert us to social causes faster than books written in the vein of Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo. Even pizza can be ordered from across the globe to support another country’s protest. So how can steampunk play a part in social change? Ann argues in her introduction: “In the Steampunk context, it means to examine our relationship with technology, with each other, and with the world around us. And by doing that through the lens of Steampunk, it allows our imaginations to take off. Let’s use creative play to look at creation, invention.”

This collection addresses the dynamic facets of revolution: industrial, political, social, and historical. Not all of these stories are about the flash-and-bang, the anarchist bomb, the topping of statues. Instead, revolution is framed as acts of personal action in the face of social pressure, for good or for ill, which are possible because of that world’s innovative technology.

[This revolution will not be telegraphed. Neither will this book.]

Nov 29 2012 12:30pm

The Battle for Seattle Continues in The Inexplicables

The battle for Seattle continues in Cherie Priest’s new novel The InexplicablesThe Inexplicables, Cherie Priest’s fourth novel in the Clockwork Century series, breaks from her previous books in several ways. Most significantly, instead of being set in a new location in her Civil War-torn US, we return to Seattle with a new perspective: that of the drug-addled Rector Sherman, the kid who had a brief appearance in Boneshaker as the boy who showed Zeke Wilkes how to enter the city. This is the first full-length novel with only a male protagonist (though she did have Captain Hainey starring in her novella Clementine, and Andan Cly shared the spotlight with Josephine Early in Ganymede). There isn’t a mechanical showpiece that serves as the title’s namesake, either–though discovering exactly what the “Inexplicables” are surprised me.

The breaks from her previous storytelling don’t hinder her, however. In fact, The Inexplicables doesn’t rehash as much as it refocuses on the aspects that got readers to love her world in the first place: a gritty survival tale where gas masks and goggles are necessary to live another day, and the aesthetic’s rough edges feel natural and real. Like all of the books in the Clockwork Century, The Inexplicables is a stand-alone novel, but is accessible enough to pull in new readers while giving nods to longstanding fans.

[Zombie Redux. Mild spoilers ahead.]