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This post has been been cross-posted to Beyond Victoriana's own website. Please submit all comments there.

This weekend I'll be at Wicked Faire (where will YOU be?) and so here is another edition of Odds & Ends to keep you occupied in the meantime.

The Reads

I've gotten a lot of feedback from my Black Victoriana post, including these suggestions:

Black Science Fiction Society - a community dedicated to black sci-fi on Ning

Afrikan Steam/Afrosteam: an updated Tumblr link page maintained by HuemindFantastic

Also related is the self-published book Wonderdark (also available for purchase through Tumblr). It is self-described as an "Afro-Asiatic Steampunk/FaeryPunk/Afropunk meets plant-eating (and in some cases of Anansi-kind: bookeating) tradition of thought-craft and Higher-lense opting. Like just about any book kissed with Steam ethos, it's unconventional, and will not open a door for you to the usual, the 'norm'... the 'generally accepted', etc. Instead, it will open up a door in your mind to higher possibilities, the under-reported splendor of cruelty-free alts, and hope reinstilled for your inner-child that dreams emerge because they're seeking birth. It's not just your imagination... at least not in the way you might think."

Also, there is Cory Gross's presentation about Steampunk & Anime on Crunchyroll. On his blog Voyages Extraordinaire throughout the month of February, Cory is writing a series of posts about Japan during the Victorian era. Notable posts that are especially steampunky include an overview of Japanese Scientific Romances, a tour of the Studio Ghibli museum, and feature about Hayao Miyazaki's Daydream Note.

And not that we need permission from anyone to promote non-Eurocentric steampunk, but here is an observation writer Tim Ayers made about where steampunk is going that I thought was worthy of passing on.

The Buys

Now I don't want to get into the habit of promoting vendors on this blog, but I think is exception is made here for Tess Fowler, who I interviewed about her comic The Seven. Fact is, she has new shirts featuring art from the comic available for purchase on Zazzle. Go check them out!

The Pics

Here is an oldie but goodie, and a source of personal inspiration. The Coalition of Rather Unusual Denizens or C.R.U.D in California is a multiracial group of cosplayers and they all look amazing. A full album of their pictures is at photographer Ed Pingol's site.

Check them out under the cut )
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This post has been been cross-posted to Beyond Victoriana's own website. Please submit all comments there. While gathering materials and suggestions for things to feature on Beyond Victoriana, fellow steampunks offered quite a few delicious tidbits that were interesting reads and looks, but not quite enough for a full post. So here are some Odds & Ends from the aethernets and elsewhere for you to enjoy---

The Reads:

The Effluent Engine, part of A Story for Haiti project
N.J. Jeminsin (author of One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) wrote this steampunk tale about pirates set in New Orleans, originally for a lesbian steampunk anthology. Enjoy reading it, but better yet donate, donate, donate.

Pimp My Airship
Another entertaining read featuring African steampunk by Maurice Broaddus.

Distant Deeps or Skies
This just in today -- Mexican steampunk story by Silvia Moreno-Garcia that's featured in Expanded Horizons magazine.

Moon Maiden's Mirror
An evocative steamy fairytale in an Asian setting, written by Joyce Chng as part of Semaphore Magazine. Link goes to PDF of the September 2009 issue.

Steampunk: A Mobile Device Concept for Rural India
The technology blog Adaptive Path wrote an interesting article about how engineers use concepts of steampunk technology to design mobile cell phones in India.


The Pics:



Frist mentioned by Jess Nevins (you may know him as the editor for the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana) on the speculative blog community No Fear of the Future, about Lu Shi'e's Xin Ye Sou Pu Yan (1909), with the following blurb:

"In this tale, Europe is a Chinese colony and it describes the Chinese government’s suppression of an uprising planned by European "restoration" rebels. The Chinese Emperor orders the generalissimo in charge of Europe, Wen Suchen, to suppress the rebellion with flying warships. Generalissimo Wen not only conquers all seventy-two European nations but continues on to the moon and Jupiter as well. The most marvellous part of this tale is that Jupiter is described as being covered completely with gold and abounding with flora and fauna–the perfect destination for migration. Wen is then appointed Governor of Jupiter. From then on, the means of communication and transportation between Earth and Jupiter is, naturally, by flying ship."




Sent in from Professor Von Explaino in Australia:

"Found this picture in a holiday home my wife and I were staying in and thought it would be something you'd like or have a use for.  The tattoos definitely seem Maori."




"Punk Tribe" by 343GuiltySpark

And, as always, any suggestions for this blog are welcome! Drop me a link on the announcement page or send me a email. ^-^

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This post has been been cross-posted to Beyond Victoriana's own website. Please submit all comments there.

 

When Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was published in Japan in 1878, science fiction fever infected Japanese writers, and within a few years, imitations of Verne's mysterious submarine and its Captain Nemo cropped up in their adventure stories. The most famous is Captain Sakuragi from Oshikawa Shunro’s six-part series Kaitei Gunkan (The Underwater Warship, 1900-1907).

 

Like much of Japanese sci-fi literature at the time, one of the prevailing themes of the Captain Sakuragi series reflected Japan’s rising nationalism and its own imperialist goals to defeat foreign threats in order to safeguard Japanese interests.

 

The premise of the first novel begins with a frustrated Captain Sukuragi leaving the Japanese navy when he decides his country is weak against the potential threat of Western governments. Moreover, he considers the West in competition with Japan’s expansion into Asia. With a group of fellow scientists, he flees to a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean and builds the Denkotei (also translated as denkopan): an underwater battleship similar to the Nautilus in design, complete with its own rotating screwdriver-like horn.  The Denkotei is decked out with torpedoes and bombs, and, on a private martial mission, Captain Sukuragi and his crew set off to confront those set against Japan. In the first novel, they successfully fight pirates interfering with Japanese shipping, but later confront British, the French, and Russian forces, defeating them all. Later on, the Denkotei even fights alongside Filipino nationals against American occupation.  

 

This series was highly popular in Japan, especially when the novel’s battles against the Russians predicted the country’s own victory in the Russo-Japanese War. The unintended irony in the captain’s battling the “foreign imperialists” is how the books stridently promoted Japanese imperialism over others’. As Owen Griffith’s notes in his academic article Militarizing Japan: Patriotism, Profit, and Children’s Print Media, 1894-1925:

 

“Oshikawa’s purpose was to ‘oppose those who oppressed freedom’ and to inculcate in young readers ‘the spirit of resistance at all costs.’ Yet neither Ito nor Oshikawa himself acknowledged Japan’s own imperialist endeavours or its brutal treatment of its own subject peoples. The tendency to lionize one’s own and demonize the other has many antecedents in Japan and elsewhere.”

 

Later, Captain Sukuragi’s underwater warship inspired a live action film in 1963 (titled “Atragon” in the US) and the anime OVA series Shin Kaitei Gunkan in 1995.


 

Linkspam:

 

Oshikawa Shunro on Wikipedia

 

Atragon on Wikipedia

 

Kaitei Gunkan’s trailer and info page on IMDB.com

 

Shin Kaitei Gunkan on IMDB.com

dmp: Taking a stroll in my finery (Default)
This post has been been cross-posted to Beyond Victoriana's own website. Please submit all comments there. A few weeks ago, Jha Goh wrote a post about whether steampunk Westerns could be considered non-Eurocentric, arguing that as long as the narrative is in the hands of the “neo-Europeans” aka, those people whose culture had derived from Europe, then these narratives are still “Eurocentric,” even if they take place outside of Europe.

Taking this into consideration, I’d argue that although Western narratives can be considered “Eurocentric,” the themes that are within the Western genre are non-Eurocentric and has evolved to become less Eurocentric. For this argument, I’ll examine Western filmmaking in particular, although other forms of Western genre exist in books, games, and other media.

The themes of Westerns include a focus on frontier lawlessness, the struggle for survival, vigilante justice, the struggle of good versus evil, the conflicts that occur during the process of industrialization, and the fight for independent living—these themes that have occurred in many places and times in history. Thus, the Western genre over time became co-opted by other filmmaking cultures which then created their own forms of “westerns.” Examples include Russian “Osterns,” which focused mainly on the Russian Civil War era after the Russian Revolution and took place in the steppes of Siberia and central Asia; interestingly enough, they are also Stalin’s favorite film genre (I consider Russia not a European, but a Eurasian country). Another is the recent Indian film Sholay that has been dubbed a “Curry Western.”

Moreover, as the Western genre evolved, its influences have drawn upon non-Eurocentric sources. One of the biggest ones upon the genre (and an influence for many other filmmakers in general) is Japanese cinema icon Akira Kurosawa and his samurai films. Kurosawa had a love for American westerns, which directly influenced several of his films. The Western motif is prominent in Seven Samurai, which, in turn, directly spawned The Magnificent Seven. Also, Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and the sequel Sanjuro with its “no name” protagonist influenced Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing, featuring Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” character. There is even a listing dubbed “Kurosawa westerns” that feature several major films and their Kurosawa influences.

This cross-cultural cinematic relationship continues today. This week, I’ll review three “Asian westerns” that have come out in the past couple of years and examine how each film puts its own cultural spin on the traditional Westerns. And, of course, I think each one has its own potential for qualifying as Asian “Weird West.”

Spoilers ahead for Sukiyaki Western Django, The Good, the Bad and the Weird, and Dynamite Warrior )

Linkspam:

Overview of the Western film genre on filmsite.org

Western genre on Wikipedia

Scholarly information and analysis of the Tale of Heike - A website dedicated to the tale of Heike created by Stanford alumni John Wallace

Syllabus for the class Samurai, Cowboy, Shaolin Monk: National Myths and Transnational Forms in Literature and Film A class that was part of the Expanding East Asian Studies program at Columbia University. If I had gone to Columbia University in four years ago, I would’ve totally signed up.

Kurosawa’s samurais Article on flickerfilm’s Blogspot

Kurosawa’s Lasting Impact on Western Film - Article about the directors influences in Western cinema on Buzzle.com
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This post has been been cross-posted to Beyond Victoriana's own website. Please submit all comments there.

Technology Eastward—A steampunk exploration
The Industrial Revolution (And How It Ruined My Sci-Fi)

(props if you get the song reference)

One of the big differences between neo-Victorian and steampunk is the level of technology incorporated in the aesthetic. Steampunk’s historical literary origins include both Victorian pulp fiction tropes and glorification of the Edisonade, the young inventor and his machinery. Perhaps, then, this is why steampunk, since its conception, has always been associated with Victorian England, and, by extension, the West: because of the apparent dearth of non-Western technological advancement. This advancement, of course, associated with the two Industrial Revolutions. (Note: There isn’t only *one* Industrial Revolution, but two historical periods of industrialization that came one after the other. The first Industrial Revolution occurred primarily in England starting as early at 1730—the dates are still up for debate—and lasting until 1850, and the Second Industrial Revolution emerged from that and lasted from 1850 through the 19th century and until the early 20th, spreading through Europe and the United States. The term “industrial revolution” itself is not limited to those historical periods either, but is a term that can be applied to any country going though industrialization. Later the 20th century, for instance, China and India went through their own industrial revolutions, and developing countries are going through their own as we speak.)

The issue isn’t the fact that these Industrial Revolutions had occurred; I’m not debating the reasons how or why modern technology developed first in the West (both questions however, have been interesting matters of academic scholarship in technology transference, history, and economics).

The issue I’m interested in exploring is the two-pronged legacy that these Industrial Revolutions created–and its effect on how we conceptualize technology in steampunk:

1) Historically, the Industrial Revolution started in Europe and spread throughout the world through Western expansion. This resulted in the spread of these technologies in the lands under European influence/dominance—which, in some cases, lead to the destruction of indigenous technology in favor of Western forms. On the other hand, however, industrialization also instigated the cross-fertilization of non-Western technology with Western tech. And, of course, this technological transference isn’t something that happened exclusively during this period of time or was exclusively one-way stemming from Europe, but had been evident throughout the history of technology between various parts of the globe.

2) Culturally, because it had come from the West under the auspices of European superiority (white man’s burden) the effects of industrialization contributed to the notion held by Westerners at the time that non-Western civilizations had to be taught how to be civilized. Moreover, it implanted the idea that Westernization equals industrialization—one that lingers on today.

That, in turn, effects how artists and writers conceptualize alternative historical civilizations and their technology. Because most writers have been introduced to tech and their trappings from a perspective of Western dominance, imaginative tech implies a Eurocentric feeling, or else they are not “legitimate” technology. And—at least for Western artists and their audiences—it is challenging to conceptualize possibilities when all of the most prominent historical examples are from the West, which contributes to the invisibility of non-European cultures in the spheres of sci-fi (and steampunk!)

So let’s spin the dial back from West to East and, in this post, start off with tech examples from China (in later posts tech from other parts of the world will be covered too). Because not only did it exist, but many iconic symbols of steampunk technology actually have their roots in the Middle Kingdom. Read more... )


Hope you enjoyed reading!

Want to see a topic featured on Beyond Victoriana? Drop your suggestion on the announcement page here.

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