The Steampunk Tribune banner
Rafael Fabre announced earlier this month that his famed The Steampunk Tribune is suspending publication.
The blog, which has served as something of an online newspaper for the steampunk community since 2007, previously under the title The Heliograph, was not only an great place to keep up with developments relevant to the genre; it was also a good friend of The Gatehouse‘s and Rafael was kind enough to often promote our online magazine, the Gatehouse Gazette.
While real life got in the way of Rafael’s regular blogging activity, he also left us with some observations about the state of steampunk today which are worth quoting in full.
Though steampunk has received more prominence lately, even being recognized on a regular basis by the mainstream science fiction world, I do hope for the best. Seeing more visibility for the genre (the plethora of outstanding independent film makers endeavors producing amazing work), and Hollywood even tipping a bit towards recognition of steampunk (e.g. the small but appreciated winks from the Sherlock Holmes movies), is heartening.
However, my concern with the injection of political machinations of certain groups and individuals will, in my opinion, limit the acceptance of the genre. Trying to impose a template of ideologies upon the genre is self-serving and acts as an anchor towards greater futures in steampunk. I’ve seen very good writers and bloggers depart from the genre in part due to this circumstance and individuals I’ve attempted to induce into the beloved genre questioned what they saw as politically correct indoctrination shoe-horned into Steampunk. People have every right to their own opinions but this particular eddy seems juxtaposed to the free-flowing essence of steampunk.
To me, Steampunk is an opportunity to enjoy a different time, with a fictional twist — in virtual or real Life. The genre is very accepting of those who may not feel they fit into other genres — old, young, beautiful, not so beautiful (like me!), etc… Trying to dictate to others how they should act or think during their participation is simply unsatisfactory [...] but in the end, people vote with their feet with how they spend their free time… and sadly, I think many have.
Sadly, we can’t say we disagree and hope all steampunks takes Rafael’s warning to heart. We wish him well!
Welcome to the world of reknowned steampunk (amongst other things) artist Brian Kesinger, and in particular the world of two of his no doubt best known characters: Otto and Victoria.
The world of Otto and Victoria is a Victoriana world where cephalopods live on land as well as in water, and are often seen as companions to people. And it is this world we explore furture in Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod.
This lovely book isn’t just full of Mr Kesinger’s awesome art; it also informs the reader in small text features about the trials, tribulations but mostly: the rewards and friendship involved in keeping a pet octopus. As well as following Victoria from the moment she got young Otto at a pet adoption day to the point where the best friends are now.
It’s as much a tale of a girl and her octopus as a cute pet guide and lovely steampunk picture book. It effortlessly combines all these features, making it a fun read for steampunk and art fans of all ages.
It’s sure to bring a smile to the face of everyone that opens it, and even though the star is an octopus, many situations will look familiar to owners of more mundane pets such as cats and dogs, which just adds to the awesomeness of this book.
Building Beauty cover
Rachel Eliason’s Building Beauty certainly has a plot and setting that distinguish it from other steampunk stories.
Taking place during World War I, the protagonist is a young man named Alejandro (although the Amazon page says “Alexander”) serving in the Russian army who is sent to Siberia for a special assignment. When he arrives he is quickly taken to a factory that builds automatons. The officer in charge explains that there is a “social disease” of Russian soldiers frequenting brothels. Things would be so much better, he says, if the troops could be… err… serviced by an automaton in the form of a common prostitute.
In short, Alejandro’s job is to build a sex robot.
He is not thrilled with the assignment. “Of all the men in Mother Russia I must be the most ill equipped for this assignment.” Why does he feel so little confidence in his ability to do the job? You might be able to guess that before it is revealed but it becomes obvious toward the end of the story. And when the Russian Revolution begins, his job becomes dangerous as well as uncomfortable.
Building Beauty has an interesting story but could definitely have been edited better. Punctuation is a problem in this ebook and I’m not sure why the main character is named Alexander in the synopsis but called Alejandro in the story. Also, I’m torn on the subject matter but I won’t say why because of spoilers. Suffice to say, the protagonist won’t appeal to everyone. But if you want a different type of steampunk, you could do worse than pick up Building Beauty for $0.99.
Event: Emporium Vernesque
When: November 16
What: Steampunk convention
Where: Willemeen + Luxor Live – Arnhem – The Netherlands
Whilst it is true that Emporium Vernesque is a bonafide steampunk convention, one of the two held annually in The Netherlands (the other being D.E.S.C. end of July in Meppel), this convention is very welcoming to everyone interested in steampunk, whichever interest (literary, fashion, cinematographic, you name it) that may be. It comes as no surprise that you see all manner of steampunks together with people in normal clothing or outfits belonging to other subcultures gathering together at the Willemeen venue whenever the event is happening.
Once again the organisation managed to put up a well varied and very welcoming event, with a program that was bound to contain something for everyone. Continue reading