International Question and Answer Roundtable!
This is the second part of the Q & A.
Thanks again to all of our participants!
You can find Part One of the Q & A – HERE
Do you participate in a local Steampunk group?
Sally-Ann: I’m loosely attached to the Lincoln Steampunks as I attend the major event there every year and am part of the Facebook group, but being a non-driver and 40 miles away means that I only see them annually.
Davide: No, as I said, I’m a loner, living in a very backwater small village lost in the hills. Sad sad story, what?
Karen: Initially, we were few – most local steampunk enthusiasts were members of the Australian Costumers’ Guild. Eventually we banded together to form Steampunk SA. We have a Facebook page and are organising events. There are also other steampunk groups locally.
Paulo: In my city there is no an active group meeting up very often, however if we talk about the cooperation to organize or gather in some event or so there is the creative’s collective we had formed which has people focuses on multidisciplinary areas.
In Mexico the Steampunk activities take place more in events than in regular meetings, but there are some groups in cities like Monterrey which organize monthly gatherings to hang out, workshop and exchange tips and interests beyond the social networks.
Josue: I travel all over the country every year. So, I’m in touch with a lot of local groups. I enjoy knowing more people, cities and cultures. I’d like to meet foreign groups, outside Spain.
Jaymee: I used to run a DreamWidth community called Steampunk Nusantara, a world-building community where we suggested things that could exist in a steampunk Southeast Asia, particularly the maritime region. I mean, I still run it, but not actively. Offline, however, I tend to run independently. An airship crew sounds like, but I have moved around so much in the last few years, and predict I will be moving around a bit more in the future that this isn’t something on the cards for me for a while.
Suna: When I can, I try to attend the pub meetings of the Edinburgh Steampunk Society, but I’ve managed only once so far! I have good friends in The Glasgow Ubiquitous E. Steampunk Society, who hold excellent annual events, parades and dances. It is always good to have a drink and a chat with other folk and hear what drives them, what they’re working on. Generally join in whatever shenanigans are afoot and have a good time.
Arthur: I use to be really active in the French Steampunk community but my writing activity prevents me from being as active as I want to. Some people are better than me at it 😉
Kenneth: I am very lucky. There are a number of great steam community groups in New York City.
What do you think is a quality of Steampunk that will keep it ‘alive’ going into the future?
Sally-Ann: It is the friendly and welcoming nature of the people who are drawn to this genre. I have had only good experiences and find that folk are enthusiastic, supportive, relatively open minded and tolerant. There are so many different interpretations of Steampunk and though I often se debate, there is still room for adventurous exploration!
Davide: I think steampunk’s vitality comes from the genre’s ability to expand, to bring into the fold different cultural influences and different experiences. The fact that there is no “steampunk orthodoxy”, while there are a number of coded elements, makes the genre very flexible and adaptable.
Also, it is pretty clear that steampunk has a very wide appeal through its various permutations (cosplay, gaming, fiction, music etc) – this allows the community to be very diverse, and to grow steadily, bringing in more talents, more ideas.
Karen: Flexibility, tolerance and positive outlook. Oops, that is three things. Steampunk can be interpreted in so many ways. This flexibility allows the movement to grow and change. Add tolerance for others, encouragement for their ideas and individuality, and the world is ours to explore.
Paulo: Its diversity, of course. Despite having established elements that distinguish Steampunk, the different ways that can be addressed is what keep it alive and constantly moving.
Josue: I think the future is in pushing the boundaries of Steampunk. We know how it was born and how is it now. Let’s see what we can do with it since now and how it can evolve in the future.
Jaymee: There isn’t anything in steampunk intrinsically that will keep it going—nostalgia for the past is very much a part of our current zeitgeist. However, the recovery of historical technological innovation and other such histories will always keep us interested, as well as our dreams of what could have been.
Suna: Its flexibility. The defining characteristic of a subculture or genre is that it is different from the cultural norm, of course. That is part of what makes it attractive, which for some is more important than others. But ultimately nothing is static so I am very pleased to see Steampunk evolve to be more inclusive.
Steampunk is multifaceted as well, unlike some subcultures it is very well rounded in that it has a fiction genre, a music scene, a film genre, a costuming and cosplaying aspect, a theatrical scene and a whole set of social dynamics and morés to go with it, a dedicated aesthetic which branches out in crafting and making, etceteras. You can be as much or as little involved with one or all of these elements as you choose, with as much or as little added political awareness or activism as you like.
Kevin: This really goes to the heart of our community and the individuals who comprise it. We are, generally, very creative, imaginative, forward thinking, generous, helpful people. It will be these characteristics which keep bringing people of similar interests with a desire to learn more together.
Arthur: As long as the community stays open-minded (that is the most difficult part) it will be fine. Because a lot of people are coming to the Steampunk culture, bringing their own vision. Some people tend to be afraid of Steampunk changing not the way they want.
I also hope that french vaporistes (that we call ourselves in France) stay creative.
Kenneth: Victorian culture was the first global culture, so I think it will always be relevant if not fashionable.
Are you going to any Steampunk events this year? Where?
Sally-Ann: Hopefully, my brother and I will be attending a local even which last year was held on a stationary vintage train carriage! We also trade at Weekend at the Asylum, Europe’s grandest Steampunk event held in Lincoln (UK).
Davide: I’ll probably be at the two major Italian gaming faires, in Modena and in Lucca – which are not strictly steampunk events, but where a large representative of the Italian steampunkers can be usually caught in the act of being themselves. Apart from that, I have no plans at the moment.
Karen: I am looking forward to this year’s Steampunk Expo, and Steampunk SA is currently planning the first South Australian Steampunk Ball, later this year.
Paulo: I’m afraid it’s kind of impossible for me right now.
Josue: I’ll be working in EuroSteamCon. I’m invited to help in the organization of EuroSteamCon Barcelona. But I want to visit some other cities. Maybe, Zaragoza or Seville.
Jaymee: I haven’t decided yet! Gaslight Gathering, maybe. We’ll see how much pocket money and research funding I can get.
Suna: I have been trying to attend Asylum since 2009 and last year I was very sad to have to decline sitting on various panels at both Asylum and the Steampunk track at Nine Worlds. This must be the year I journey to Lincoln: one might even say…Asylum or Bust.
Kevin: It’s still early in 2015, but I know for sure that I’ll be attending Wild, Wild West Con, Steampunk Invasion, and Teslacon. Attending other conventions as a guest and speaker are still in the works, so my dance card could fill up in a hurry ☺
Arthur: I will attend Geekopolis in Paris where I will do panels with Kato and french community members , Trolls & Legendes (a belgian festival I really like ) and probably a lot of conventions to support my book.
As I said before, I will attend the Steampunk evening in Jules Verne’s House in Amiens and an event in Lille (northern France).
If you COULD go to any Steampunk event, which one would you attend?
Sally-Ann: Any that the splendid Professor Elemental is performing at! We have a young daughter, who has a Steampunk character called The Scamp. She’s made herself known to the good professor and I’d dearly love them to meet.
Davide: Hard picking just one, but I would have loved to be at the Steam Garden, in Tokyo, Japan, on the 7th oo February, because I love Japanese culture and from photos and videos I saw of the previous events, the guys in Japan really create something unique and wonderful.
Karen: The Steampunk Cruise; though I have heard this year is the final cruise. I have never been on a cruise and would love to spend an entire week immersed in steampunk – forgetting the worries of the world. Plus I would get to meet fantastic people and see some splendiferous clothes.
Paulo: EuroSteamCon definitely, any place in Spain, because it’s been celebrated during the past two years and seems people had a lot of fun; also I could hang out with very good friends over there.
Josue: Oh, I want to go to England or USA. TeslaCon would be a good choice, maybe. There’s a lot of people I’d like to meet.
Jaymee: Steampunk World’s Fair. It’s very overwhelming, what with three stages going all at once, music everywhere, performers everywhere, and the Bazaar in the Radisson, plus the Emperor Norton Stationary Marching Band randomly playing through the hotel lobby for kicks. The last time I went, Jeff brought in Victor Sierra, a French band, and Strange Artifact, a Japanese band, which was quite brilliant. Jeff is also a huge support of social justice issues, and took a strong stance on anti-harassment last year with a new and very thorough policy that cause a furor. He remained firm against the usual criticisms and I really respect him for that.
I would also like to have attended the Mahogany Masquerade that steamfunkateer Balogun Ojetade put on!
I really should make it out to Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium sometime as well, since it’s close to me, but that requires driving, and I can’t drive.
Suna: Have I mentioned Asylum? The organisers are a wonderfully kind, mixed group who are very keen to promote diversity within the genre, on many different levels.
Kevin: It would be great to travel around the world, so I would love to attend the events outside the United States. ESC – European Steampunk Convention happens in multiple locations around Europe, all on the same day. I would love to be in Vienna, Austria, but it seems like the group in Barcelona, Spain, really knows how to throw a party.
There’s also Steampunk Fest Roma, and not just because the Italians have some of THE. MOST. AMAZING. OUTFITS. EVER.
There’s so many more to list – England, Iceland, Sweden, Japan, Australia – I could be easily kept busy traveling to a convention slightly more than every other weekend around the whole world.
Arthur: Definitely the Steampunk World’s Faire with my friends of Steampunk band Victor Sierra! To me it is the center of the steampunk world for a couple of days. I would love to go to european cons like what they do in Luxemburg or Barcelona. I would also love to see Poison Garden live in Italy.
What aspect of Steampunk do you think should be explored/explored more?
Sally-Ann: Steampunk music. Aside from the Prof. (whose humorous take on the genre is the first music I reach for when needing to get in the mood for creating neo-Victorian inspired pieces) I really cannot find much to listen to that expresses the spirit of Steampunk for me. There are a lot of really good visuals – costumes and sets – and the lyrics are often very ‘Steampunk’… yet when I hear the music, it all seems rather too up to date. I’d like to hear an exploration of more Victorian sounds and melodies, reshaped as many are skilled at doing physically in 3D with costumes and props. Lindsey Stirling has done two wonderful tracks – Shatter Me and Roundtable Rival – that have wonderful videos but the first is very modern and the second is definitely Western style Steampunk. I love them both, but I’m still looking for that more serious Steampunk sound.
Davide: Ethnic influences should probably take center stage more often – but there’s a lot of writers working in that directions right now, so I think we’ll see the topic explored more deeply in the next few years. Also, this being a personal interest of mine, I’d like to see more transmediatic projects: the fusion of art, music and narrative, for instance, across multiple media. It’s the sort of thing that I feel is in the nature of steampunk itself, and I’d really love to see it happen.
Karen: The steampunk aesthetic and mindset of handmade crafts, often individual and practical pieces meshing science and art. This also encompasses the philosophy of recycle, reuse, repair; a philosophy that could immensely benefit the world and its environment.
Paulo: Movies, I guess. There are not so much Steampunk films, also could be great they touch the multicultural aspect. There are a lot of people limited to Victorian England and sometimes a little of Western. The world has different and wonderful cultures that could give a lot for a speculative fiction in a Steampunk world.
Josue: Steampunk outside England or the Old West. In exotic places. Even in a lost colony at the other side of the universe. We should escape from clichés.
Jaymee: I think the literature always gets sidelined; lots of us know of several big-name Steampunk books, but there’re so much other works that I find people are not aware of (Virtuoso, for example, or the Spiritwalker series by Kate Elliott, or the Steam-Powered series edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft). And come on, the first all-Steampunk bookstore is struggling to survive! Given that the literary side gave us the name under which we rally, we ought to support those who keep that side alive.
Everyone should also be aware that there’s some serious academic work happening! Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology has got some great essays by some familiar names and then some. Some other names to look out for include: Catherine Siemann, Roger Whitson, Brian Croxall
I also think there’re some histories people ignore, because it’s easier to assume there’s no escapism in being true to history or there is a certain kind of voyeurism in re-casting the oppression of the past, which totally sidelines the “alternate-history” part of Steampunk. If you want to do an alternate history, why not go really alternate and see what happens to your corsets and goggles? But part of this has to do with what we “recognize” as Steampunk (which is part of my dissertation project) and the need to keep treading familiar ground. For example, “The Path Without End” by Elizabeth LaPenseè is a steampunk short film, but I doubt it immediately gets recognized as such because she uses natural materials, and she’s telling an Anishinaabe story.
Suna: More open and accepting sexuality. The Victorian Age had enormous constraints upon it, though of course the flip side was that there was much debauchery and naughtiness behind closed doors. One only has to read saucy publications like The Pearl, besides the more serious literature and historical accounts of known gay and lesbian couples, to know the Victorians didn’t lack in sexual appetite, or same sex proclivities, however much the culture tried to suppress it. So I would like to see an expansion on that in the same way that Steampunk is such a glorious platform on which colonialism is being reframed, or classism.
Books like Joselle Vanderhooft’s Lesbian ‘Steam-Powered’ anthologies and fictional characters like Gail Carriger’s excessively flamboyant Lord Akeldama show that it is present and in demand. Like multiculturalism, it is part of the world and there are strong LGBT voices in Steampunk already.
In my own experience, the love of Victorian etiquette and mannerisms in Steampunk can make for a slightly prissy social environment sometimes. A little bit too much of ‘You say that now, Sir.” , “Ho, madam, contain yourself!”
Call me idealistic, but we can have cake and eat it. Where a better form of manners and etiquette than is currently prevalent in our society is wedded to a fantastically inclusive, free-flowing culture of all colours, persuasions and delicious sauciness in Steampunk. We’ve gained marriage equality and same-sex acceptance in so many areas of modern life, that I would hate to see Steampunk standing around, uncertain on these issues.
Kevin: Aside from being an avid reader, I love film and tv, so I would like to see more quality professionally produced visual media – web series, television shows, and movies. There are so many great steampunk stories to tell and it would be wonderful to add these to our resources.
Arthur: Definitely, there should be more multicultural aspects added to steampunk. I think that we should little by little get off the victorian aesthetic to explore our local culture and steampunk it !
For example, just look at what they do in Japan (Steam Garden), mixing traditional japanese aspect and XiXth century’s features. It looks so cool !
Kenneth: Lifestyle and community!
What other events are you participating in during Steampunk – Hands Around the World 2015?
Sally-Ann: I shall be writing a blog article or two, due to be published on 14th February as that happens to be my shop’s anniversary also!
Davide: None strictly related to Steampunk, but I am actually taking part in a MOOC (a massive open online course, hosted by the University of Exeter) about the British Empire and Colonialism, which is quite on-topic, I think. History, society and what-ifs are all part of the course curriculum, and are also the basis of a lot of what we call Steampunk.
Karen: None this month, unfortunately. Steampunk Expo is in May, Steampunk Ball is proposed for September. The Time Travellers’ Picnic is not until December. Local conventions (non-genre specific) are in April and November. February is writing month for me (and my hubby’s birthday).
Paulo: Because of geographical circumstances and thigh schedule, I can’t participate in any event, but I’ll be sharing links and write a few posts in El Investigador’s blog.
Josue: I work with Paulo César Ramírez as editor in the series of anthologies Ácronos. The publishers are going to release the third book of the series (dedicated to multicultural Steampunk) in an event called “Retro Day” in Barcelona. Paulo can’t go but there will be some other famous Steampunks from Barcelona there with me. I hope everybody likes what we are preparing.
Jaymee: I have a running series of roundtable questions for my writers of The Sea Is Ours, and will probably be posting a bit on writing Southeast Asian steampunk and writing as a postcolonial subject.
Suna: On the Steampunk India blog there are contributing articles that highlight the educational aspect of Steampunk, talking about my involvement in the Maritime Museum events. I will be exclusively publishing the fiction I wrote for these events.
It’s part of a ‘found’ a diary kept by aThe Clockwork Watch character, Tinku Ranbir, an Indian woman. The diary is close to my heart as it forms an element in the multicultural aspect of the Greenwich events, as organised by Yomi Ayeni and I have a fondness for the character herself.
A forthcoming article will explain the background of the diary. The fiction itself will be available to read on the Steampunk India website at the end of the Steampunk Hands month.
Kevin: Mostly running the show ☺
And adding in some of my own blogs along the way.
I hope everyone will follow along this month with the Official Link List, and they favorite online language translation service.
Arthur: Being in the rush of my upcoming book, I cannot really take part this year. But What people are doing in Steampunk Hands is great !
Kenneth: As a writer, mostly I just hide.
Links to Visit for more on our panelists!
My current steampunk project is one of the main topics of my gaming blog, GreyWorld
My blog (English/Spanish): http://www.mundosteampunk.net/
Main website and blog: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net