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Fri
Mar 29 2013 12:00pm

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]

Fri
Mar 1 2013 5:15pm

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…]

Wed
Jan 30 2013 6:00pm

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)]

Thu
Jan 24 2013 12:00pm

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.]

Thu
Jan 10 2013 4:00pm

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]

Fri
Dec 21 2012 12:00pm

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]

Wed
Dec 12 2012 2:00pm

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]

Fri
Nov 30 2012 12:00pm

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.]

Thu
Nov 29 2012 1:30pm

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.]

Wed
Nov 28 2012 6:00pm

Upcoming Steampunk Events for December 2012

It seems like people fancy the 19th century the most between Halloween and New Year’s. With Victorian Christmas events popping up left and right, who would be better fitted to attend than your local troupe of time-hopping, goggle-donning retrofuturists? This December go on a cruise on the river Thames, celebrate Dickens’ big 2-0-0 in San Francisco, or rock out over the aethernetz at a steampunk holiday concert. Airship Ambassador Kevin Steil and guest contributor Matt Delman of Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders join me in celebrating the holidays with a bit of brass.

But if we have made the grievous oversight of missing your event, don’t hesitate to plug it in the comments below! And for those who want to get an early start on 2013, email me at attic.hermit@gmail.com with the details by December 15th to feature your January event.

[‘Tis the season]

Tue
Oct 30 2012 4:30pm

Max Gladstone Brings the Gods to Court in Three Parts DeadMax Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead is a fantasy that doesn’t read like a fantasy, partly because the protagonist, Tara Abernathy is an associate contracts lawyer: you don’t typically get one of those as your heroine. Except that it works, not only because Tara and her boss Elayne Kevarian are damn good at their jobs, but also because those contracts define the structure, accessibility, and use of magic, called Craft. The world also includes familiar fantasy elements–from magical boarding schools to vampires to almighty gods–but gives them a fresh take that immediately draws you in.

Gladstone’s world-building involves magical takes on fields that aren’t typically addressed in fantasy—in this case, litigation. Gods, rather than being mysterious, unknowable, and omnipotent, have direct relationships with their followers. Their abilities bring happiness and joy to believers, create rain in the desert, cure illnesses—but also fuel metropolitan transit systems, back military operations, and promote trading partnerships with multinational corporations. Like all powerful people, then, the divine are always in need of good legal representation.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 24 2012 1:00pm

Steampunk Events for November 2012As the holiday season begins, steampunks throw the best galas. Join up with ahistorical re-enactors in the Netherlands for their first steampunk convention. The yellow brick road goes brass at the Emerald City Steampunk Expo in Kansas. Take a journey to the moon (and back) at TeslaCon III in Madison, Wisconsin. Witness the ultimate steampunk smackdown as Edison duels Tesla in a battle of wits – and giant lightning coils! Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassador and guest contributor John Leavitt, the propagator of Steampunk.com, team up with me to present the most exciting alternatives to seeing those relatives you really don’t want to see for dinner at the end of the month.

Feel free to submit your events to attic.hermit@gmail.com by November 12th to be included in December’s round-up. And if you don’t see your event here, feel free to plug it in the comments below.

[Something to look forward to other than Thanksgiving leftovers]

Fri
Oct 19 2012 10:00am

Okay, for those who know me, I’m very into non-western steampunk. And I enjoy kung fu comedies. A good steampunk film isn’t just pretty-looking with quirky tech, but addresses shifting social and cultural values in light of early industrialization and urbanization. A good kung fu flick has me cheering at the melodrama, holding my breath (or my abs or my head) in sympathy to whatever punches kicks or wall-breaking tumbles the characters go through. At New York Comic Con this past weekend, I attended the screening of Tai Chi Zero, which promised the best of both.

The film certainly has a lot going for it, being from the same creative team behind Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer, and Detective Dee & the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (which I also loved), and starring almost every awesome kung fu master alive today. In terms of a sheer sense of hoopla and adventure, Tai Chi Zero just doesn’t fill a niche of a niche market, but is popcorn fare without any pretentions – and that’s what makes it so much fun. Mild spoilers ahead.

[Tai Chi, Round Zero: Fight!]

Fri
Oct 5 2012 6:00pm

Goodbye to Tor.com’s 2012 Steampunk Week

All too soon, good things must come to an end.

This week has always been a highlight of my Tor.com bloggery, and this year did not disappoint. So, here comes the Big Appreciation Post to everyone who helped make this happen!

[Thanks go out to]

Fri
Oct 5 2012 4:00pm

Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City is Steampunk TV with a Can-Do, Fan-Fueled Attitude

Steampunk has been hitting books, films, video games, and RPGs for the last few years – but can it finally work on the small screen today? We have had steampunk shows in the past (many point to the 1960s television-run of Wild Wild West as an example), shows that have steampunk elements to them (like the Chinese-tinged space western Firefly, the props in Warehouse 13, or the last couple of seasons of Doctor Who), and the occasional brass & cog cameo episodes in TV series of other genres (such as the episode “Punked” in season 3 of Castle or that terribly mediocre one from NCIS). We’ve seen steampunk done great, done haphazardly, or done, well, blah. So far, though, according to community consensus, nothing on current television has ever been done 100% right.

[Meet the creative team behind Lantern City]

Wed
Oct 3 2012 4:00pm

The Crystal HerbalistFour years ago, James Ng was a digital artist with an interesting project that caught the eye of the steampunk community. His “Imperial Steamworks” series recreated an alternate world where the Qing dynasty was the leader of the 19th century Industrial Revolution. We featured him once on Tor back in 2009, and since then, James, who spends most of his time between Hong Kong and Vancouver, has been successful both in the art world and in the science fiction/fantasy community. His work has been featured in multiple magazines like OnSpec and Spectrum 18, books including The Steampunk Bible and Steampunk: The Art of Victorian Futurism, and art festivals in cities such as Moscow, Vancouver, Seattle, and Sydney.

I got the opportunity to touch base with James about his newest works and picked his brain for his thoughts about how his time with the steampunk community has influenced his artwork, and new turns he is taking professionally and artistically.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 1 2012 10:00am

Steampunk Week 2012 on Tor.com

One of the first major blogging events we’ve done on Tor.com was for steampunk, and every autumn with the turning of the leaves, the H.M.S. Stubbington gets its engines stoked for another bout of gears, cogs, and 19th-century know-how. Now, Year Four into this brass madness, the question comes to mind: “Why does steampunk still matter?”

[Read more about what we’re featuring this week]

Fri
Sep 21 2012 3:00pm

Steampunk Events for October 2012

Autumn has settled in to roost, and you know what that means: layers! Steampunks can strut their stuff for the new season at a variety of events this month. Watch a musical at the 92nd Street Y performed by The Lisps. Scare up some fun at SteamCon IV, the oldest running steampunk convention in the United States, or celebrate everything Jules Verne at a festival dedicated solely to him in Paris! All these events and more have been gathered up with the help of Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador and our guest contributor Simon Berman of Privateer Press.  

Folks who want to see their events posted here can contact me at attic.hermit@gmail.com. I’ll be taking November events between now until October 15th. And feel free to signal-boost yours in the comments thread too!

[Fall into steampunk]

Wed
Aug 22 2012 6:00pm

Asylum in the UK

This month, school starts and steampunks come out to play. Downtown Atlanta becomes a retronauts’ paradise, a museum doubles as a premiere concert venue in Texas, and convention-hopping becomes all the rage throughout Europe. Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, and our guest contributor, Michael (aka “The Mad Hatter”) of The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review join me to give us some steampunk shenanigans to kick off the autumn season.

Plugging additional events in our comments is welcomed. And, as always, if you want to see your event advertised here, just drop me a line at attic.hermit@gmail.com by September 17th to be included for October.

[Events happening, there and back again]

Tue
Jul 24 2012 5:00pm

“What is the meaning of life?” is one of those questions that every author addresses at some point in their work. In his short story collection Sorry Please Thank You, Charles Yu takes this inquiry and breaks it down even further: “What is meaning?”, “What is life?”, and even “What is ‘is’?” As intellectually heady as these questions are, the stories are told in beguilingly simple prose. Yu has been compared to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams for his playful meta-narrative style, and I’ll add that this book takes after Being John Malkovich and The Truman Show too. Perhaps Sorry Please Thank You can be considered Yu’s personal (or possible, or one of multiple) series of answers to Life, the Universe and Everything.

[It’s not 42, though.]