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Story Excerpt:


Dorothy Winterman's "African Amazon" outfit

It is day 15 of our arduous journey through the veldts of Nigeria (or are we in Cameroon yet?). Our tracker Adeola has discovered new tracks and scraps of fibers from obviously foreign cloths. She can find a single iguana track amongst a bevy of crocodiles, this one can. We listen intently that these “men” are probably several hours, if not a day away. We find evidence of them through their encampments, their excrement and their litter. Yes, litter. Can you imagine- these foreigners, these soldiers, these baby snatching, people annihilating, genocidal rapists also throw their unwanted refuse upon our beautiful, sacred ground. Well if you can march hordes of innocent groups of human beings to ships waiting to whisk them away to be enslaved, massacred and destroyed in a whole different place on this globe, throwing down unwanted garbage must not mean much. I guess it truly lies in one’s perspective, does it not?

I think to myself, “Did I travel back in time for this?”

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Elsa's steampunk'd folding walking cane, made in accordance with walking canes for the visually-impaired. Designed and crafted by Michael Salerno.

Before I can begin telling you about eyepatches in the steampunk community, I should probably explain why I'm qualified to discuss the issue. I was born with cataracts. I was fortunate enough to maintain the sight in my left eye, but I can't see anything out of my right. I would wear an eyepatch, but unfortunately since I'm not allowed to wear contact lenses the ability to accessorize with a patch is completely out of reach. Not only that, but I carry a white cane because I have no depth perception. Those of you who have worn an eyepatch probably have experienced this issue. This is what I have to talk to you about today – why on earth would someone choose to impair themselves for fashion purposes, especially given that the disability which you are using is often one that comes with serious emotional attachments. To be clear, I wear corsets, and so do a lot of other people, but rarely is the dialogue associated with a corset one in which the individual wearing it says that they wear the corset because of an injury.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Jake von Slatt's Roadster, featured at the Fair. Image courtesy of Michael Salerno.

Steampunk World's Fair-- the self-proclaimed "largest steampunk festival in the US" had a huge turnout last year and raised expectations for many steampunks for repeat success. Over the course of the year, shifts in management and staff structure sprouted rumors of uncertainty about the success of the con, but this year's Fair still held a strong and diverse showing of panels, workshops, and entertainments. Previous year's favorites, including musicians Professor Elemental, Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band, Psyche Corporation, Eli August, This Way to Egress, and Frenchy and the Punk returned, with the addition of several other newcomers such as Murder by Death, Copal, Ego Likeness, and Left Outlet.  Events expanded to include book launch parties for Tee Morris and Pip Ballentine's The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Leanna Renee Hieber's The Perilous Prophecy of the Goddess and the Guard, and Emilie P. Bush's The Gospel According to Verdu at the Library of Lost Literature, an academic track, a Tweed Ride, a Dandy Stroll, a charity fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Queen Victoria's Birthday Party. Other notable programming ranged from workshops on bartitsu and kimono-wearing to pro-union rallies and surviving the apocalypse.

Along with my own con report, which is featured on Tor.com, below is just a sampling of experiences offered by our guest reporters, including Daniel Holzman-Tweed, Austin Sirkin, Lucretia Dearfour, Sean Proper, Matt Deblass and Ekaterina Sedia. Fashion designer Kathryn Paterwic of Redfield Designs also presents her runway collection from the "Across the Universe" fashion show told in her narrated photo essay. Photography from Jessica Lilley, Babette Daniels, Michael Salerno, Monique Poirier, Philip Ng, and myself are also included.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Aetherfest took place between April 29th - May 1st, 2011 in San Antonio, making it the first steampunk convention in Texas. I've been in touch with Pablo Vazquez for about a year now, and when he hinted last fall about an upcoming convention, I was more than thrilled to make my first Texan debut at his con. I was looking forward to meeting a new community, but was a bit nervous going myself. Luckily, Lucretia Dearfour accompanied me on this adventure, and we discovered that The Emperor of the Red Fork Empire was also a featured guest here. While at Aetherfest, the three of us interviewed several of the other guests and attendees at the con. That footage is still in post, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the following reports & pictures from this event. Mr. Saturday (aka Pablo Miguel Alberto Vazquez III) is the co-chair for the event, and talks about what went on in prep for this con and how he thought it turned out. Author O. M. Grey writes about her experience as a special guest, and Lucretia Dearfour relates her con experience as well. All pictures are provided by me, unless otherwise noted.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Steampunk Industrial Revolution is New Hampshire's first steampunk convention and proclaimed to "revolutionize the way we steampunk."

Austin Sirkin opens up our reports with his discovery of a landlocked boat in the middle of the hotel; the musician Eli August gives the low-down on his experiences at the con; Miriam Rocek brings her attendee perspective; Matt Delman, chief editor of Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders reports from behind the panelist table, and modder & tinkerer Geoffrey Smith of Thee-Gartisan Works talks about the con from a vendor's side of things, including meeting other awesome modders and artists at the con, what's the name of his favorite gun mod, and the hot little item that everyone was wearing at the convention. Christopher Hayes (aka "The Haze") provides video coverage, and Geoffrey, Jessica Lilley, and Nate Buchman also feature their photos from the event.

Check this all out after the jump.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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 First stop in this Con Extravaganza series is Nova Albion, based in Santa Clara, California. This con was formerly named Steam Powered, and I first heard about it from Mike Perschon's blog years ago. This year's Nova Albion is the first steampunk convention to address a non-Western theme, and I was intrigued when they had invited me as a speaker back in the fall of 2010.  Obviously, having a theme like this was an opportunity to break a lot of ground in the community.... or it could've easily been flooded with cultural objectification (because we all know how much white people love consuming and commodifying Asian stuff & people) without any equally reciprocal interactions with, well, other Asians & Asian-Americans and our history and culture.

To be honest, this con was great in a lot of ways, but its treatment of the theme wasn't perfect. I had a bunch of fantastic experiences and a bunch of uncomfortable ones. The reports and footage from this event, then, address a lot of different aspects, and our guest reporters and myself definitely walked away with dynamically different impressions of the con.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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TempleCon, a retrofuturist gaming convention, has been running for six years, and I've been lucky enough to attend for the past two years. As a gaming convention, a majority of its programming is focused on huge, expansive gaming set-ups for all types: miniature games, card tournaments, LARPing, and tabletop RPGs. Most people usually spend their entire weekends in the gaming rooms, but for those who like to wander about, this year's TempleCon offered an array of other activities, including Tempest's bellydance workshop, costume & prop panels run by The Wandering Legion of the Thomas Tew, mulled wine & cider tastings, fashion show and costume competition, musicians such as Psyche Corporation, Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band, The Gypsy Nomads, and Eli August, and panels on writing, comics, steampunk, dueling, feminism, and of course, my own workshops on social justice issues. So, roaming the hallways as a zombie during the zombie march was equally as valid as playing Magic: The Gathering with your friends.

This convention had been particularly special for me though: on Saturday, I proposed to my fiancee. On this blog, I don't tend to talk about my queer experience as much as race & culture & steampunk, not because I don't see queer identities as relevant (in fact, understanding the intersectionality of all our experiences is an important aspect to fostering social change), but because the story, is, well, long and involved and deals with cultural (double)standards, racial exotification/invisibility in queer communities, and the ambiguous treatment of trans people and their partners in both straight and queer settings. Not to mention maintaining a level of privacy that any couple should be able to have. But the occasion like this isn't something to be taken lightly, and I really wanted to acknowledge the impact the steampunk community has had on a non-traditional couple like us. "A New Year, Another Beginning" is more of a personal reflection, concerning my ten-year journey with my partner Lucretia Dearfour and our experiences as a couple in life and as a couple within the steampunk community.

Also contributing to this con report is Monique Poirier, a previous contributor to Beyond Victoriana, who gives a run-down on her experiences on Saturday at the convention. Jeromy Foberg shares his time as a Volunteer Staff member for TempleCon, and Simon J. Berman, a game writer for Privateer Press, also stops by to relate his attendee experiences. Photographer Jessica Coen is also contributing her visual eye to our eventful weekend.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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As many know and some who may not know, Secondlife has been one of the top multimedia social platform since it's release in June of 2003. It's said that people can reinvent themselves, discover dreams, play games, and of course, make a little money. You want it, SL has it! So why would it be such a shock to have such a fun, fantastical steampunk desert world? Personally, it's the infamous world of the “Sims” on steroids of amazing measure.

Enter Cala Mondrago, a sim (plot of land in Secondlife), named and designed after the ancient culture of the Moors. The name “Cala Mondrago” comes from a city within the island of Majorca, a location full of life, color, splendor, and creativity. All things that sim owner Bianca Namori wishes to foster.




Read More on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories is a very unique anthology for a variety of reasons. By unique, I'm not stating that this anthology is tailor-made for only a specific target audience (though it may scream "niche" to the average reader.) Still, upon first impression, a reader might wonder: would someone who isn't queer or female or a romance lover still enjoy this book? Torquere Books, known for its queer and alternative literature, may be jumping onto the growing steampunk bandwagon that is gaining speed in the publishing world. And, some people might fear the worst after steampunk Palin-- is Steam-Powered just another trend-hopper?

No, it is not. To think so would do a great disservice to the quality of work contained within this volume, and the literary thoughtfulness from both the contributing authors and Steam-Powered's editor JoSelle Vanderhooft.

These stories feature the work of several prominent and up-and-coming writers in the SF/F world. It starts off strong with N.K. Jeminsin's "The Effluent Engine," previously published on her blog for the A Story for Haiti fund-raising campaign, and also includes the work of Georgina Bruce, D.L. MacInnes, Sara M. Harvey, Beth Wodzinski, Rachel Manija Brown, Shira Lipkin, Matthew Kressel, Meredith Holmes, Teresa Wymore, Tara Sommers, Mikki Kendall, Shweta Narayan, Mike Allen, and Amal El-Mohtar.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Note: Cross-posted with permission from Yakoub Islam from his website The Muslim Age of Steam on The Steampunk Shariah.

Middle Eastern Astrolobe. 1291.
Middle Eastern Astrolobe. 1291.

In Summer 2009, I made the bold decision to write a full-length novel. It seemed like the perfect solution to a troubled and difficult decade, which had largely centred around caring for my autistic son: a return to an old passion – creative writing; a therapeutic outlet following a period of mental and physical illness; and perhaps a means of drawing together the various intellectual and spiritual threads that have informed my faith and eclectic reading over the last 20-odd years. I began by exploring the imaginative possibilities surrounding the first recorded Muslim visit to England, allegedly made by the twelfth century geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi. A small cast of characters was assembled, along with possible subplots, themes and a couple of draft chapters. Yet after twelve months of research and writing, the various elements of my intended novel remained disparate, and I almost gave it up.

I wondered whether the problem wasn’t down to a contradiction that I’m sure many writers have experienced – between creative and publishing ambitions. I wanted to write a one of a kind book, but who would want to read it?

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Monique in her steampunk attire. Image courtesy of author

I'm not one for preambles, so let's get down to brass tacks here. I'm Monique Poirier. I'm a member of the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe. I'm a Steampunk.

When I got into Steampunk several years ago, it didn't really occur to me to even try to incorporate my cultural identity into my Steampunk presentation; my first Steampunk outfit (worn to Templecon 2009) was cobbled together from my existent goth attire, stuff from the renfaire costume trunk, and a duct-tape corset.

Then I read Jha's articles at Tor.com. Then I started reading Beyond Victoriana. It was powwow season... and everything just -clicked-. When I attended The Steampunk World's Fair in May 2010, I made an active effort to incorporate my ethnic identity more visibly in my Steampunk attire.

That's where things get complicated.

Read on BeyondVictoriana.com
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One of the difficult things about writing con reports for Beyond Victoriana is that I've always missed something. Whether it be a panel, a cosplay, or The Biggest Story from the con, I know that since I'm only one person, I can't be everywhere at once to record it for the blog. Not to mention all of those great con events in the community that go on that I can't attend. So for future conventions, Beyond Victoriana will be extending its con coverage to include features from on-staff and on the ground.



TeslaCon is the first event we're trying out with this new format, and justly so. What makes this con stand out from previous ones is its mission as steampunk's first "immersive convention'. " Organized by Eric Larson (Lord Hastings R. Bobbins) as an elaborate role-playing convention, TeslaCon featured not only the usual panels, vending, fashion show and other events, but was built around a central murder mystery storyline and run by a crew of dedicated actors on staff.



Panelist Austin Sirkin talks about his impressions of the con, staff member Wendy Zdrodowski unravels TeslaCon's murder mystery run by Steampunk Chicago, and Captain Anthony LaGrange of The Airship Archon gives an attendee report. Photo coverage is also provided by Jessica Coen and Shannon Sofian, featured in the articles and after the jump.



So even if you were stuck at home like me, you can still get a taste of the TeslaCon experience, thanks for the dedication of our reporters and photographers.



Read on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Myself with Viceroy Chang in his place of honor. Don't we look so dapper? Image courtesy of Holly Hickerson

Note as of 9/21/2010: Since the posting of this report, I have received feedback that a reader had been offended by my comments below for ignoring the presence of mixed race and Native steampunks at Dragon*Con. I take full responsibility for the offense made and apologize for my oversight. As noted in the comments of this post, I don’t wish to make a marginalized person feel that they have been rendered invisible when they visit this site. The lightheartedness in which I made the comments below in “The Count” about race, representation, and physical appearance ignores the very painful experience of being a person of mixed race/Native descent/light complexion who passes for white, but does not share the same experiences as someone from the dominant culture. I won’t change my initial comments in the post–because it would be hypocritical of me to cover up my mistakes–and I hope to receive further feedback about how to improve upon my reflections –and in turn, the content of this site– to be more open and welcoming in the future.

My first Dragon*Con experience can be described in one word: overwhelming. Not surprising, since an estimated 60,000 attendees come to this convention every year. Since its humble beginnings in 1987, Dragon*Con has become one of the largest multi-media & pop culture conventions in the US, and there's frequent debate in the geek world about whether Dragon*Con outmatches San Diego Comic Con.

Though I've heard about Dragon*Con, I never considered going because of distance and cost. Outland Armour begged the Wandering Legion of the Thomas Tew to attend this year, however, and so I decided to tag along with my ruffians-in-arms for the journey.



Thus, unlike other conventions I had attended, I had no set plans and didn't intend to actively scout out the con specifically for steampunkery. I had plans on attending some of the panels listed on the alternative history track, and some other events, like the dark fantasy panels and seeing a couple of performers.



My initial schedule plans shifted, when Austin Sirkin contacted me about speaking on the Race & Gender panel, and Emilie P. Bush (who I worked with for the Race, Class & Gender roundtable at the Steampunk World's Fair) touched base with me about speaking on the Women in Steampunk panel.



Another twist was added when the Day Job requested that I cover the convention once I told them I was attending. I try to keep a professional distance between my Day Job and my steampunk, especially since the two have so much relevance to each other. My plans for Sunday, though, changed entirely when I was scheduled to interview several authors and film the con. I was psyched about the people I got to interview (most relevant to this blog being Cherie Priest). Because of filming, I missed out on a couple of steampunk events I wanted to go to-- most notably, the Steampunk Exposition (though the Peacemaker ended up being displayed in my absence). Sticking to the premise of the blog, though, I'll only mention the steam events. ^-^



So I had two panels to prep for, along with making arrangements for work, in order to tackle a con I've never gone to before (and somehow figuring how to get down to Georgia at a reasonable price!) In the end, my experience was less steam-focused than I intended, but I did learn several valuable lessons about attending Dragon*Con. My list, plus the rest of the report after the jump.





Read the rest on BeyondVictoriana.com
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My work also looks at the ideals of beauty and femininity represented by examples of privileged members of society, and the aspirations of the less fortunate women to be like them. - Mary Sibande (source)



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I'm preparing for some big events in May (like co-hosting two panels at the Steampunk World's Fair. Will you be coming? It's bound to be INTELLECTUALLY STIMULATING and IMMENSELY ENTERTAINING.) Thus, the next post will be delayed. But never fear, I have some nifty reads that have been building up in my inbox for you to check out after the cut.



Read more on beyondvictoriana.com
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Note from Ay-leen: I got in touch with Michael Redturtle—a steampunk enthusiast from the Southern US—a few months back and we've chatted about how steampunk can become integrated with someone's personal and cultural identity. He offered to pen a few thoughts about his Native ancestry, the journey he took to discover it, and what that has to do with how he steampunks.

***

Michael RedTurtle

Michael RedTurtle dancing at a Pow Wow

Since you’re reading this, you’re aware that there are many of us who prefer to look at steampunk from the viewpoint of outside neo-Victoriana. I was asked by Ay-leen to talk about my preference: that being Native American steampunk.

My name is Michael Redturtle. This is not the name of my “character/persona/whatever”; it is my actual name (some of you may know me on LiveJournal and other similar sites as Lucv_Cate, or LocaCate: which is Redturtle in two different Mvskoke dialects). I know one question that you probably have is: “is that your ‘real name’?” Well, it depends on what you call a "real name."

Read on BeyondVictoriana.com

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