The website of the Basque Steampunk Community / Steampunk Euskadi is still brand new, so there is not much to see there, yet, but I want to give it some love and exposure already.
Several reasons: The little anthropologist in me loves the Basque country for the language (an isolate) and for the history of the people. The Steampunk in me loves the website, because it is yet another example how wide-spread the phenomenon is by now and you really find it everywhere.
I wonder when we meet the first Mongolian Steampunk, who knows…
So, please pay Basque Steampunk a visit by clicking the banner and also give their Facebook Page some love!
Mantentzeko lan ona! (I hope this makes sense, I used Google Translate, it should mean: „Keep up the good work!“)
From Down Under comes this award winning jewel: Aurora, it won the award for Best Action/Adventure film at the San Francisco Comic Con, an achievement, the makers can be truly proud of.
But enough words, here is the full-length film for your viewing pleasure:
Ελπίζω να είστε εκεί έξω; Ερωτώ, επειδή δεν έχουμε καμία επαφή μαζί σας. Η ευρωπαϊκή σκηνή Steampunk εκτείνεται από τον Ατλαντικό μέχρι τα Ουράλια και από το Βόρειο Ακρωτήριο στη Μεσόγειο. Γνωρίζουμε Steampunks από όλη την Ευρώπη, αλλά δεν ακούμε τίποτα από την Ελλάδα. Eάν είστε εκεί έξω, ελάτε σε επαφή μαζί μας!
And to all those who do not speak Greek:
The text above is a call to Greek Steampunks to get in touch, because we do not hear or read anything about or from them. Maybe the scene there is only very secluded and maybe isolated.
… and she has agreed to give me an interview, which I now present to you. You will be surprised…
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a published, soon to be agency represented, petite model from London. My main interests are in modelling alternative fashion for various latex designers, corset makers, and Steampunk/gothic jewellery companies.
When did you start modelling?
I had my first taste of modelling aged 18, subsequent to doing a handful of shoots, I decided to take a hiatus and fully focus on my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. I decided to return on a part-time basis in September 2012 once I had completed my Master of Science degree.
What artists/photographers have you collaborated with?
Since returning to modelling in September 2012, I have collaborated with 17 designers and 14 photographers/artists including Rose Conway, Chris Sinn, Miss Rain Photography and Maja Stina.
I take most of my bookings on weekends as I have a full time career, so often I find myself working 7 days a week. It can get exhausting but I get to meet so many great people through modelling that I just want to keep going!
Is there a story behind „Ravina Rapture“, a particular reason you chose that name for your modelling?
Ravina means “she who possesses the beauty of the sun” in Punjabi. Of course I don’t really think that of myself! However, I do think it is a poetic and memorable name.
When did you discover the alternative side of modelling was your thing?
Alternative modelling is very much an extension of my personal lifestyle, so I guess it has been present since I began to express myself as a young woman. Many of the clothes I am styled in for photoshoots are things I would wear to a metal concert or festival. To my eye, they are “normal” clothes.
The purpose of the term alternative fashion is simply to differentiate from mainstream fashion, it in no way is supposed to undermine mainstream fashion.
How did you first hear of Steampunk?
I first became aware of the Steampunk genre when I discovered the very talented Kato. I’m sure your readers are well aware of her work, she simply blew my mind with her creativity and I became very interested in all things Steampunk.
What is your connection to Vontoon Steampunk?
The co-founders of Vontoon Steampunk and I have become very good friends over the past few months. My initial connection stemmed from a purchase I made from their Etsy store. I used one of their products in a photoshoot and they were so happy with the results that we have been collaborating ever since. I think their leatherwear is incredibly high quality and you receive such a bespoke service.
Steampunk India has featured your images, do you know Suna Dasi personally or did you thus far only meet via the web?
Suna is such an intelligent and wonderful woman. We have so much in common that I often forget I’ve never made her acquaintance in person!
I think she first saw my work on the Vontoon Steampunk website, and sent me a lovely message stating how happy she was to see an Indian Steampunk model. She was in the early stages of the Steampunk India project so she found it encouraging seeing someone share her vision.
Are you directly involved in the Steampunk India Project, or was it just the feature?
I am not directly involved in the Steampunk India project, but I do fully support what Suna is trying to achieve. There is a distinct lack of a Steampunk and alternative community in India, and those who choose to express their individuality are often unfortunately, marginalised.
Where can we find you, and your portfolio, on the web?
Contact details for publication – RavinaRapture(+)hotmail.com
Russia has steam in the boiler. I never doubted that ever since I first made contact with soome Russian Steampunks. They have been active for a while, as is proven by the fact that Aniway.org has organized a Steampunk party for the fourth time, and this is the video documenting the event.
You may not be able to understand everything which is being said in this video, but the images speak for themselves. Please enjoy:
Yo no hablo español. El texto fue creado con la ayuda de Google Translate.
La razón de este artículo es:
Mis amigos de El Investigador acaban de publicar su edición número 25. ¡Felicitaciones! Espero que habrá otro 25 o más.
Y esta es la edición de aniversario:
As promised in the podcast a few days ago, here is the interview Suna Dasi of Steampunk India was kind enough to give me.
It turned out to be even more of an education than I expected and hoped for. So it is with great pleasure I present the interview:
Is Gita Rohini your Steampunk persona?
Gita Rohini was a haphazard accident. She emerged almost fully fledged during a three day Steampunk event I helped organise for some very dear friends and I realised she had a story to tell.
If you have read about Gan’s misadventures, you have already met her.
I would happily depict, and identify with, most of the female characters which are about to emerge in my fiction in some way, but Captain Rohini was a character who made herself known in my imagination very early on and quite pressingly demanded to be fleshed out. She’s a high-spirited individual…!
As to the Airship Devadasi‘s backstory, she certainly has one. Some of it will feature in Makara Wakes.
What got you into steampunk?
One day a whole swathe of folk looked up and found that the world had kindly amalgamated most of their lifelong interests and pursuits into one convenient genre. I was one of them. I was always fascinated by all things Victorian and have always loved Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, H.R. Haggard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to name but a few. One of my favourite books is Michael Moorcock’sDancers at the End of Time. In retrospect you could certainly call this early modern Steampunk. I have had a lifelong love affair with science fiction and the macabre; mixed with a continuous gravitation towards alternative modes of thought and living. Steampunk is a marvellous platform for expressing all of the above and aesthetically the most pleasing genre to express it in.
How long have you been in the scene?
I consider myself a writer first and foremost and I can’t say I’ve been in ‚the scene‘, as such, if I take your meaning right.
I don’t have an overly prolific or diverse Internet presence for instance, though I am a member of S.W.A.G and Steampunk India has a Facebook page.
How old is the idea of „Steampunk India“? Is this something you wanted to do ever since you first had contact with steampunk?
Steampunk India became a burning desire to carry out over the course of two years or so. I have always written and the alternate Indian fiction is what I wished to do first and foremost. I did some research as I was curious to see what was already out there. At this time, there was very little imagery of Indian based Steampunk to be found. There are some lovely Pinterest boards with great images to peruse if you Google ‚Steampunk India‘ , but imagery of actual characters combining Steampunk and Indian culture were few and far between.
The exceptions are to be found below and the two first ones clearly grapple with reconciling a sense of politically correct dread about touching the multicultural subject in the first place:
These days, projects like The Clockwork Watch have a strong Indian storyline to their universe, but two years ago I came away disappointed.
It truly all started for me with Alan Moore and Kev O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 1999. I absolutely adored the comic, its satirical tone, its irreverence and the morally ambivalent characters. Moore and O’Neill’s take on Nemo is a fictional triumph and I couldn’t have been more pleased when a daughter emerged in LOEG:1910.
But it became gradually apparent when I looked into the actual fictional genre of Steampunk quite a few years later, that there weren’t many other characters to be found.
I continually found myself wishing for more diversely native Indian characters, especially women, as the possibilities seemed endless to me. The more this wish grew the more I started to consider possible storylines, characters and costumes I would like to see, until I inexorably fell into doing something about it.
Do you think „glossy colonialism“ (i.e. focusing exclusively on the glamour parts of the British Empire) is prevalent in the UK Steampunk scene?
I don’t actually think many people emulate a truly one-sided ‚glamour version‘ of the British Empire. Most Steampunks appear to be educated, switched on people who have a well rounded perception of the world around them and are already in some way used to thinking alternatively. Though there does seem to be a proclivity for classism in the choice of alter ego among white Westerners, even there most people who pick a type of upper class character tend to also give him or her a personal twist. They are ‚rogue‘ in some way that makes them stand out from the standard society damsel, foppish lordling or elitist Nabob.
Having said that, I personally have nothing against anyone who would choose to be the latter, as long one follows through and embodies the persona to the absolute hilt!
The whole beauty of Steampunk is that there is room for all of it, with the addendum that each and every one of us envisions that little something extra. In Steampunk’s recent upsurge into the mainstream, there will inevitably be folk who have a less three-dimensional approach, but I perceive there exists enough awareness in the movement itself to deter a racist, homophobic ignoramus who simply wants to prance about wearing a pith helmet.
I think it’s foolish and damaging to be too extremist either way: One can’t fly into a blind panic anytime someone touches upon something culturally exotic in case it might hurt someone somewhere. Politically correct fears can kill joy and honest creativity faster than anything else. Neither can one be too callous in their choice of character, but if one has solidly thought out reasons anything should be possible and acceptable.
Common sense is something I’ll fly a banner for any day.
Which inventions and other scientific phenomena in Indian history go well with Steampunk?
I really like this question!
There are a few that instantly spring to mind:
The art of navigation was developed India 6000 years ago. The words ’navigation‘ and ’navy‘ are derived from the Sanskrit words ’navgath‘ and ’nau‘ respectively.
The Jantar Manta observatory in Jaipur (Rajasthan), which was built in the Mughal period (1700s). It is a set of huge astronomical instruments, such as giant sundials. I could easily see where such a thing might feature in an adventure story about some intrepid explorers needing to do some calculations, for instance.
The late Victorian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan was self-taught, and worked out many proofs independently of the international mathematical community at the time. This meant he sometimes worked out things which were already widely known, but as recent as ten years, mathematicians uncovered functions worked out by Ramanujan to be completely correct, so he was ahead of his time in some ways, too. His life was very interesting and would lend itself well for some kind of Steampunk fictional homage.
Tipu Sultan, who was the ruler of Mysore in South India and his father Hyder Ali, together developed the first iron cased and metal-cylinder rockets. I can see a use for such inventors in Steampunk fiction…
India was foremost in many fields of science in ancient times: The first record of any kind of plastic surgery, for instance, was found in India and dates from 2000BC. The concept of indentity altering surgery and body modification would fit well with certain military bio-mechanical Steampunk tropes.
There are a great many examples of India’s inventions and innovations, including an early form of chess, but I shall not list them all here!
For those interested in exploring this further, there are books on the subject such as: A History of Science and Technology in Ancient India by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya.
Women in Science and invention had a harder time of it and only rose to prominence when higher education for women in India became more culturally acceptable. This in itself is something I am making use of in my fiction. The beauty of alternate worlds and histories is the freedom to create aspects of the society you are building on a more gender equal footing.
Wow! That was really enlightening, thank you very much!
What do you think is missing in the Steampunk scene in general?
In general, I think I’d like to see a bit more boldness in Steampunk: As I’ve said, I believe an overabundance of political correctness can be as socially crippling as being completely insensitive.
I believe that the space between these two extremes still leaves a wide enough margin in Steampunk for unbridled creativity and cultural interpretation that is colourful, empowering and truly alternative.
Can you give us a description of your vision of a steampunk India (be as brief or detailed as you like)?
I was recently asked in another interview what inspired me personally and I shall repeat my answer here: Imbalance, subversion, insolence and being a woman!
I consider myself a direct product of the British Empire as my great grandfather was shipped out of Madras by an East India Company ship in the 1800s to work as an indentured servant on a coconut plantation in the Caribbean. The convoluted story of the three generations that preceded mine played a very significant role in me specifically wanting to write Steampunk.
Translated to this project; I have created an alternate India where the issues that come into to play, if I choose to address them, are not the main point, but part of the spectrum that makes up the world as a whole. This isn’t a major campaign to absolve the historical, political and cultural failings of either nation, nor to view their history through a soft-focus lens. My primary object is to tell the story, to tell it well and to use all ingredients at my disposal.
Within that there is a lot of room for interesting social and political scrutiny without either integrity or enjoyment falling by the wayside, or becoming a polemical bore.
A basic aspect of my vision of Steampunk India is that in this world, the Mutiny has come and gone but has had a very different outcome from the one we are familiar with in our own history, resulting in a very different geographical division, a different role for the British depending on the region and deep repercussions for international trade.
Certain things in my alternate universe are a given, for instance in certain regions women are on a more equal footing in fields of study, can pursue professional careers and choose their relationships, including same-sex ones.
In the true spirit of independent atelier puttering and building a fictional universe, I have modified and bent things, yet there are still nasty British Ruling Classes and unpleasant patriarchal Indian modes of thought to be found here, as well as more liberated, bohemian and forward thinking characters.
It takes all kinds to make a world, after all.
Thank you so much for your time and effort to make this interview happen. It has been a real pleasure.
As I mentioned in my last podcast, there is an awful lot going on in Spain. Case in point, in a few days the Semana Retrofuturista is happening in Spain. My friends there were kind enough to give me an English synopsis of the details:
From 11th to 16th February, Retrofuturisms, Steampunk, Dieselpunk and related genres, will invade the ancient city of Barcelona with lectures, presentations, games, contests such as the II Retro & Futuristic Beard Competition, and more.
The Retrofuturistic Week I is a project by the Spanish Steampunk Convention, which has been going on since 2009; one of the most important Steampunk events on Spain, with about 500 attendants from all over Spain.
We like focusing on new horizons, and new goals. We wanted to transform the event not only for all kind of followers of Steampunk, but also turn it into a space for the different Retrofuturistic movements and trends, Steampunk being the prevailing one. Focus on different kinds of attendees, and create links and synergies between different creators and artists, institutions, businesses, and everybody. In Spain we need some kind of bridges for that, and the Conventions weren’t working on this goal.
But, most importantly, we want to show all kind of aspects that Steampunk and the other retrofuturisms scenes cover, from literature to kinetic art, from Do It Yourself to the games, and think about the meaning Retrofuturisms has, what it offers to society, and to explain why Steampunk is so attractive.
We have a free lecture to introduce the attendees to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Atompunk, Clockpunk at FNAC (Monday 11th), a literary gathering for all fantasy and science-fiction literature lovers in a bookstore (Tueday 12th), visit of the exhibition “Steampunk: the future that never was” by the curator, at Museum of Inventions of Barcelona (MIBA), where the visitors (from 9th November) can discover what this movement is through works from Spanish artists and tinkerers like Cornelius Sagan or Decimononic, and international artists such as the photographer Libby Bullof. That will be Wednesday 13th.
Thursday 14th we will offer some online activities, Friday 15th we will listen to lecture from Jordi Ojeda, a curator specializing in Comic, Science and Technology, about “Future tech anticipation in 1950s comics”, followed by a Retrofuturistic Cinema Night.
Finally, Saturday 16th we will have the “heavy” day with lectures and presentations of books and brands, like the first Steampunk novel in Catalan “La febre del vapor” (Jordi Font-Agustí), inspired directly by the industrialization of Catalonia -which was one of the first areas of Spain to be industrialized – and a uchronia based on an anticipated independence of this land. We will also have games, showrooms for crafts and independent publishers, contests, and a dance show.
We are very surprised because from the beginning, from changing the Convention model to something more adapted to the goals, the circumstances (the economic crisis was rather hindering), and to different kind of publics who are interested on different aspects of Retrofuturisms, we have known many people who were working on Paleofuturisms, Science fiction History, and other kinds of Retrofuturisms. From scholars to artists, publishers, even many fans who “doesn’t knew that this I liked for a long time had a name”. And the national press have begun to understand that Steampunk is not an “urban tribe” as they usually said, or a geek fashion only, they have begun to see it on the literary and cultural side too. We are excited how it will be developing!
And thinking of the next edition, we will begin to reach out to the international scene!
More info at www.semanaretrofuturista.tk (sorry, this edition doesn’t have an English version!) and at email@example.com
I very strongly suggest you go and pay the site a visit. It is still brand new, it went online yesterday, actually, but it promises a very different view on the whole thing with Steampunk and history. You know what I mean: The British Empire, a glossed-over take on colonialism and related topics. For one, there is the very illustrious Captain Gita Rohini of the Airship Devadasi.
In case you wonder what the name of the airship means:
Although there is little material online yet, the image gallery offers a glimpse on upcoming material. I am looking forward to learning more about Captain Gita Rohini and her adventures and I want to have the following questions answered rather sooner than later:
What happens when a Maharani loses her Raj?
What happens when less emancipated regions and foreign nations refuse to trade with her, solely because she is female?
What happens when our Maharani just happens to be an accomplished scientist?
Today, I have the great pleasure to point your attention to the first issue of the first in a series of Spanish Steampunk anthologies, Planes B.
So here’s the story behind the anthology:
A year ago, Josué Ramos from Spain, and Negro Inmunsapá from Mexico (both friends of mine) had the idea to create the first Steampunk anthology in Spanish, written by people from Spain and America. From the first rough concept, more ideas sprang. One of them was the creation of a collection of books made to promote new writers. Its name is “Planes B”. It was officially introduced on the recent EuroSteamCon in Madrid, on the 28thof September.
And now the people behind Planes B are glad to announce that the volume #1 is done!
Josué Ramos aka Schnabel and Simón Bellido, from Spain; and Negro Inmunsapá and Miss von Marmalade, from Mexico are the chief editors of the project. They are all part of the group of artist known as Mercenarios de Dios, which also publishes the retrofuturistic magazine “El Investigador” once a month.
Each volume of Planes B will include one short story by a famous writer the other stories will be written by new and unknown authors.
They are very proud to announce that the guest author of volume #1 is Jeff VanderMeer. His tale is “Fixing Hanover” translated by Jason Burrows as “Arreglando a Hanover”, and originally published in the Extraordinary Engines anthology (edited by Nick Gevers) in 2008.
In addition, this first book includes five more short stories written by Simón Bellido, María Eijo, Rafael di Ferro, Ricardo Montesinos and Janacek Jadehierro. The illustrations are by Tamarindo Conde from Spain and Karina Denisse “Kadeco” from Mexico. The cover image was made by Alexandra Galeano and the model is Vito, both from Argentina.
We (the team behind Planes B and me) all hope this will be the beginning of something great! And we want you to enjoy reading it, of course.
If you want to see more, visit their website web: planesb.es