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Among the objects in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, one of the most popular is Tipu's Tiger, an Indian automaton of a tiger mauling a European soldier.

Tipu's Tiger. Image copyrighted by the Victoria & Albert Museum. Click for source.

Tipu's Tiger was created around 1795 for the Tipu Sultan of Mysore. The tiger was the sultan's emblem and the symbolism here is quite blatant: a sign of the sultan's power over European forces.

Read more on BeyondVictoriana.com
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This weekend, I'm rockin' it out at New York Comic Con. I'm there mostly doing the Day Job thing, unfortunately (though, if I can, I might wear my steampunk for Sunday.)

For anyone who manages to recognize me in my civvies, though, you'll probably end up being filmed or photographed, if you're looking fabulous and want to flaunt it.

In the meantime, enjoy the linkspam below. This edition features lots of interesting essays, some awesome postcards, and a video of my interview with Cherie Priest.

Read on BeyondVictoriana.com
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One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had about steampunk was with Crimean Palais, who claimed steampunk was his life, but ironically, did not feel like he belonged with the steampunks he met at the Steampunk Empire community. Crimean Palais, from the Ukraine, explained why:

In fact, first I also felt myself a bit misplaced, when I joined the Empire:
You must understand: When YOU in UK or USA wear such weird glasses, its just for fun and to "play" dress-up. When people here wear such glasses, they simply WORK ;-)



The same goes for some weird instruments or machines: For people here in Ukraine, such "self-made" machines are not "a hobby", but they simply build their own apparatuses, because they don´t have the money to buy a new one... (original emphasis kept)

Another example that brought up steampunk, technology and the non-West was during the Great Steampunk Debate, where the poster Piechur pointed out an African slum as a “real-life DIY steampunk community” that he thought was quite tragic:


What both examples have in common is the fact that, while most of the steampunk community would identify as middle or upper class from highly industrialized nations, many people who actively incorporate those “steampunk values” -- re-purposing junk or found items, the importance of tactile-based technology, ingenuity based on necessity, sustaining one’s lifestyle using older technological methods -- are from places other than rich communities in highly industrialized societies. The technological nostalgia we feel lacking in our lives is the reality of many communities today.



In the steampunk community, coupled with that sense of technological nostalgia is the cherished idea of innovation. Indeed, when people talk about technology, its usually in reference to when something was invented and by whom. Interestingly enough, the technological history of innovation and the history of use (who uses these innovations and where) are not usually associated with one another, but both are embraced in steampunk subculture. What is often taken for granted in discussions about the history of technology in steampunk, however, is the premise that old technologies are so interesting because they are not generally recognized by Western-European societies as something intrinsic to our way of life. On the other hand, however, as we have seen in the two examples above, older technologies are very much in use today in the non-West and in the developing world (for those are the places where they have having their own industrial revolutions). Moreover, the history of use becomes a key perspective that reevaluates the importance of older technologies: not just from a hobbyist’s perspective, but from a greater economic and social standpoint that concerns entire populations and countries around the world.



David Edgerton, a UK historian, writes about the impact of the history of use in his book THE SHOCK OF THE OLD: Technology and Global History Since 1900.



Read on BeyondVictoriana.com
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This weekend I'll be at ConnectiCon instigating havoc with my steampunk friends and helping out with several panels. On top of that, "Steam Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana" is making a comeback! I'm wicked excited to be presenting this panel again. For all attendees, feel free to stop in--

Saturday, July 10th
7:30 - 8:30 PM
Room Location: Check your schedules


And for those of you in the area, I will also be at the Steampunk Bizarre on Sunday for the steampunk meet-up. There should be some nifty artists presenting their work, so I hope to see some of you there.

In the meantime, check out the collection of links for your viewing/reading pleasure.

Read on BeyondVictoriana.com
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Note for Ay-leen: There has been a little switch in the guest post schedule, and Michael Redturtle's post has been moved to next week.
***


Harun Ar-Raschid (also spelled as Harun Al-Raschid) was a caliph of Baghdad during the Abbasid dynasty who reigned from 786 to 809 A.D. His court was arguably the most memorable of the Abbasid dynasty, and he was the inspiration for many tales in One Thousand and One Nights.

Read the rest on beyondvictoriana.com
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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.
Image courtesy of Kory Lynn Hubbell

One of the interesting challenges non-Eurocentric steampunk faces is how technology can be re-imagined for peoples that did not develop industrialized technology during the nineteenth century. Case in point this week: First Nation peoples. There has also been the assumption that First Nation peoples “lack” technology, and so therefore what role can they play in any science fiction genre, nevermind steampunk?

Notwithstanding the imaginative block (and racist subtext) implied by those who say FN peoples didn’t have technologywhich is argued against by Kay Marie Porterfield in her article Ten Lies About Indigenous Science – How to Talk Back concepts like time travel, tech, and alternative histories aren’t confined to any particular culture. This week is a linkspam featuring discussions concerning First Nation peoples in sci-fi and reading suggestions to get those mental gears turning.

For research resources, I have included a selection of articles concerning FN sci-fi, history, and technology at hand; for reading suggestions, I’ve listed examples that can also be considered under general sci-fi, alternative history, or Weird West.

UPDATED 15 February 2010: I've updated this post with the most relevant suggestions given by readers included below. Enjoy!

Read more below the cut )
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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.

December 2012

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