Airship Ambassador Interview #100, Part Eight

aa-square300Welcome back for Part Eight of Interview #100. Here are answers to the fifth question.

Read Part One here. Current Involvement, Part one

Read Part Two here. Current Involvement, Part two

Read Part Three here. Opportunities, part one

Read Part Four here. Opportunities, part two

Read Part Five here. Changes, part one

Read Part Six here. Changes, part two

Read Part Seven here. Next in Steampunk

 

How has steampunk, the culture, and the community affected you personally?

 

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Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine: We have met some of the finest people—con organizers alight with passion for the punk, talented people like Thomas Willeford, Voltaire, Doctor Q, The Men Who Will Be Blamed for Nothing, and those voices of the movement like The Steampunk Ambassador, Suna Dasi, and Diana Pho—through this genre. It’s a wide-eyed wonderful community, some whom have read our books, some whom have heard us talk about steampunk, and we feel welcomed. The creativity is nothing less than inspiring. The community continuously keeps us driven.

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Arthur Slade: It’s curious. I’m just a writer. And I write whatever comes to mind for me. So in many ways I fell into the steampunk world by accident. But I’ve come away from the experience with loads of respect for the creativity of that community. Even though steampunk is about the “old” days, it’s also about creating something new from the old. Whether that be books, movies, clothing or really cool devices. I’ve found it to be a very welcoming community. So thanks for letting me step onto the airship.

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Jaymee Goh: I’ve met some of my most favourite people through steampunk, and had some really unique experiences that I don’t know if I could have replicated elsewhere with some other lifepath. I appreciate daily little technologies a lot more, too, and I’ve learned that working with my hands has a distinct pleasure that doesn’t contradict the life of the mind.

I’ve also learned more about history, and histories, which I was probably happier not knowing, because they’re such painful histories. But the sadness I have spurs me on to a refined sense of justice that is neither reductive nor simplistic (even though I can be a reductive and simple-minded person at times).

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Jean-Christophe Valtat: Beyond what I said about having an audience that could “get it”, I think that first and foremost, the huge amount of research one has to do has  to as a streampunk writer, has considerably enriched my own culture and made me reflect on the impact the past has upon the present. As to the community, what I found the most interesting perhaps was this drive to change your daily life, make it more harmonious, more significant, not only through reading, but also through dressing up, or surrounding yourselves with beautiful objects. I like this idea of reading seeping in real life, instead of just being a separate reality, or pure escapism. It certainly changed the way I dress…

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Nick Valentino: I guess the biggest thing for me, is that it’s opened my eyes to so much. It’s made me a more open person, and I’d like to think it’s made me a better person.I feel that interacting with so many people over the years has made me more fun, and generally happier than I ever have been. It’s been a chain of awesome that seems to exponentially compound for me. Personally, a simple Steampunk book begat friends, connections, travel,  opportunities, and meeting the most amazing person I have ever met. Who knew? It’s funny how such a seemingly small thing can change your life.

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Evan Butterfield: I’ve met some delightful, creative people, which is always nice. I’ve always had a steampunky aesthetic even when I didn’t know that’s what I had, so I can’t say it showed me The Way, but really more confirmed what I already felt. I suspect that’s not a unique experience. Mostly it’s given me a really interesting thing to explore in my photography, and keeps me from spending all my time randomly surfing the Internet.

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James Ng: It has given me a community where I could connect with other artists and fans. It has done a lot more for me than I ever expected. It is more than just work.

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Gail Carriger: Aside from changing my life? Well I just ordered a new corset, does that count? I suspect if I weren’t a steampunk author I would have long since gotten rid of most of my costuming, and likely wouldn’t still be creating, mending, and modding as much. For that, I’m grateful. I like still having an alternate creative output to writing.

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Richard Preston: I think I have had a very good experience, overall, with the steampunk community. When I published my first book I contacted both Cherie Priest and Gail Carriger with a sort of “Hi! I’m publishing a steampunk book and do you have any advice?” kind of thing and they were both so kind, supportive and full of good advice. Writing steampunk has enriched my life intellectually and also in terms of adventure and fun, and I think I’ll always keep my hand in the genre one way or another.

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Diana Pho: It’s strange to think that I’ve been active in the community for about 8 years now — a good chunk of my independent adult life. It has affected me on so many levels; I mean, looking through photos from my steampunky-Vietnamese beachhouse wedding this year says a lot. 🙂 Without being involved in steampunk, my life could have dramatically veered into a different direction — now that is a what-if to ponder!

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Mike Perschon: I’ve traveled across the world and had the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people. The greatest gift steampunk has given me is a bunch of good friends.

 

Join us tomorrow for answers to the sixth question in Part Nine of Interview #100!

 

Thanks to everyone who has participated:

Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, read the first interview here.

Evan Butterfield, read the first interview here.

Gail Carriger, read the first interview here.

Jaymee Goh, read the first interview here.

James Ng, read the first interview here.

Mike Perschon, read the first interview here.

Diana Pho, read the first interview here.

Richard Preston, read the first interview here.

Lev AC Rosen, read the first interview here.

Arthur Slade, read the first interview here.

Nick Valentino, read the first interview here.

Jean-Christophe Valtat, read the first interview here.

 

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement!

Published in: on December 28, 2016 at 6:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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Airship Ambassador Interview #100, Part Seven

aa-square300Welcome back for Part Seven of Interview #100. Here are the answers to the fourth question.

Read Part One here. Current Involvement, Part one

Read Part Two here. Current Involvement, Part two

Read Part Three here. Opportunities, part one

Read Part Four here. Opportunities, part two

Read Part Five here. Changes, part one

Read Part Six here. Changes, part two

 

What would you like to see happen with steampunk in the next year or two?

 

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Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine: Aside from AMC, HBO, or Netflix turning our books into a series? We would love to see just that—a hit series or film, animated or live action, where the steampunk is out there, front and center.

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Jaymee Goh: That seems really short a time period to have any substantial change happen at the scale I am thinking of. I would LIKE for there to be more awareness of other histories beyond the obvious Eurocentric and American-centric stories. I would LIKE for there to be a more international presence in Asian countries that isn’t derived from Victorian forms. But this is not really a thing that could happen in a year or two. The Victorian-centric aesthetic has a great deal of cultural capital and presence across the world.

I would also like for teachers to be able to use steampunk in a resourceful way of engaging students with history: “Go find out what was real and what wasn’t in this alternate timeline!” or “how do you think this machine would work!” or “why is America still settled by white folks; is this realistic in this fantastical world!”

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Jean-Christophe Valtat: If it’s not too a harsh thing to say, I would like Steampunk to keep exploring new aspects of  the XIXth century culture (and beyond). I am well aware the pleasures of recognition are part and parcel of the experience – they are even the foundation of the genre-  but, at some point, there is no harm in taking them somewhere else.

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Nick Valentino: As always, I’m not afraid of the mainstream. I want to see a full blown high budget Steampunk movie. I want to see a dedicated steampunk drama television show. I want it to explode across more screens, book covers, and movie theaters across the world. I’m sure that ruffles the feathers of some, but this isn’t an exclusive club. What makes Steampunk great is everyone from any sex, creed, race, culture, or belief can do it and have fun with it. Steampunk’s cultural core is based on equality for all and acceptance of all. no matter how different. At conferences, you’ll see all races, literally all ages and everyone has a smile on their face. And the greatest part is that no one worth their Steampunk stripes is judging them. So I’d like to see more more more of everything from every angle.

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Evan Butterfield: I’d like to see steampunkians keep working hard to be unpopular, honestly. I mean, it’s fine to let some of the aesthetic get commercialized and broadly adopted, but it seems to me healthy to keep a little subversiveness in the subculture. The risk of not doing that, of not maintaining at least some piece of steampunk out of the mainstream, is that we’ll witness a “Trek-ification” of steampunk. Now, I’m as big a trekkie as anyone (well, maybe not anyone, but a lot), but what you see there is a “subculture” that was born from, and emulates, a pop-culture entity. In an odd way, I could see the same think inadvertently happening to steampunk: as it becomes more broadly recognized and adopted, our cons and makers will start to be seen not as original sources of creativity, but as reflections of whatever the broader commercial application of steampunk looks like. And that would be sad. Still fun, but not the same.

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James Ng: The release of my comic! haha. Though my experience with some “mainstream” production have been bad, I still hope to see Steampunk shown with respect in the media in the near future, so hopefully there will be a new production with good financial backing.

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Gail Carriger: The world is ready for a great steampunk TV show or major (well done & popular) motion picture. There have been some shows that edge on steampunk and taken on cult status, but nothing has really broken out yet. But I keep my ear to the production rumor mill in Hollywood and I haven’t heard of anything.

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Richard Preston: I’d like to see that BIG steampunk movie/book/etc. take the world by storm. I don’t see it coming, but you never see these things coming. There are so many great human themes in steampunk, themes that are still relevant today, such as industrialization vs. agriculturalism, man vs. machine (jobs), Darwin vs. creationism, etc. It isn’t going to be me, but we need that story that is able to take all the great creative aspects of sci-fi and retro-futurism and bust our world wide open like 2001: A Space Odyssey did. I also think, in the finest Jeff VanderMeer tradition, that steampunk is a perfect weapon to tackle stories about human interference in world ecology, and can be set in the Anthropocene as well as the antipodes.

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Diana Pho: It’d be awesome to have Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker to be made into a movie. Or maybe my own airship novel I’m editing could make it big. Who knows? 😉

 

Join us tomorrow for answers to the next question in Part Eight of Interview #100!

 

Thanks to everyone who has participated:

Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, read the first interview here.

Evan Butterfield, read the first interview here.

Gail Carriger, read the first interview here.

Jaymee Goh, read the first interview here.

James Ng, read the first interview here.

Mike Perschon, read the first interview here.

Diana Pho, read the first interview here.

Richard Preston, read the first interview here.

Lev AC Rosen, read the first interview here.

Arthur Slade, read the first interview here.

Nick Valentino, read the first interview here.

Jean-Christophe Valtat, read the first interview here.

 

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement!

 

Published in: on December 27, 2016 at 8:57 pm  Comments (3)  
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Airship Ambassador Interview #100, Part Six

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Welcome back for Part Six of Interview #100. Here is the second half of the answers to the second question.

Read Part One here. Current Involvement, Part one

Read Part Two here. Current Involvement, Part two

Read Part Three here. Opportunities, part one

Read Part Four here. Opportunities, part two

Read Part Five here. Changes, part one

 

What are some changes you’ve seen in the expressions and use of steampunk within the community and in mainstream culture?

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Gail Carriger: It seems to be fading a bit. I think people still love the aesthetic a great deal, but publishing has kind of left it behind.

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Richard Preston: I’m pretty much a newb in steampunk, having not been involved until I decided upon the genre for my book series, but I do think I’ve seen some changes in the last 3-4 years, much of it expressed by people I’ve met who have been part of the culture for much longer that I. For the most part, I think the core steampunk fans and their events are in a healthy place, but I also think that steampunk as a whole might have lost some steam (no pun intended) when we all expected it to sort of explode into mainstream culture in the last few years. Cherie Priest’s wonderful Boneshaker had a shot at life as a Hollywood film but the project never materialized. There were articles in many mainstream magazines announcing the arrival of steampunk as a driving force in modern art, clothing and culture, and I don’t think it hit that very high bar. Like I said, I think steampunk is in a good place, but it hasn’t managed to cross over into the mainstream and grown in the way we all sort of expected and hoped.

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Diana Pho:  “Is it mainstream yet?” , “Did steampunk sellout?” or “Are we still a subculture?” are questions that have been such an on-again off-again source of anxiety for the community that at this point, I have accepted the idea that the real answer (or at least as real as it is to my understanding of it) to these questions is that, “Steampunk will always reflect the greater ideas that its participants brought into steampunk and isn’t one centralized group of people or ideology.” Which pretty much means that steampunk serves as a microcosm that reflects the macro of greater society.

People find the messages they want to find in steampunk subculture that personally resonate with them and claims that these messages is what makes it apart from the mainstream. What makes steampunk apart of the mainstream, in a way, is the interests that all of these steampunks have in common: in the past, in technological evolution, in retofuturism.  But interest in these things are not strictly separate from mainstream’s current conversation about these topics, either. Neither can one assume a group of steampunks have a self-contained radical ideology; many may be progressive, but many others may be opposite of that too.

Right now the legacy of history has been big in conversation. The role of representation. The fulfillment of lost histories and “what-if”s. The draw towards nostalgia. Confronting the ghosts of oppression. You see bits of these ideas come out in pop culture — from the fervor of the musical Hamilton to the subversion of a romanticised frontier in Westworld to the time travel adventures of Timeless — and in, of course, our current political climate. A bit of all of this has echoes in steampunk.

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Mike Perschon: Thankfully, the dominant expression of second-wave-steampunk (distressed metal, leather, and wood + Victoriana) has been overcome, and we’re back to seeing the range of steampunk expression that existed before 2007, when steampunk went mainstream enough to have a somewhat unified aesthetic. The expressions since 2012 have been more of a “I don’t give a shit what you say it should look like, here’s my take on steampunk” vibe. There aren’t as many noisy gatekeepers messing up the fun. If you look at Japanese steampunk in the 1980s, you can really see that diversity. And if you look at Japanese steampunk in the ’00s, you can see why people thought steampunk was when goths discovered brown. But look at Japanese steampunk today and you’re going to see that, once again, there’s something new, and it ain’t brown. Lots of colour in anime like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. And it’s not just Victoriana.

 

Join us tomorrow for answers to the next question in Part Seven of Interview #100!

 

Thanks to everyone who has participated:

Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, read the first interview here.

Evan Butterfield, read the first interview here.

Gail Carriger, read the first interview here.

Jaymee Goh, read the first interview here.

James Ng, read the first interview here.

Mike Perschon, read the first interview here.

Diana Pho, read the first interview here.

Richard Preston, read the first interview here.

Lev AC Rosen, read the first interview here.

Arthur Slade, read the first interview here.

Nick Valentino, read the first interview here.

Jean-Christophe Valtat, read the first interview here.

 

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement!

 

Published in: on December 26, 2016 at 6:45 pm  Comments (4)  
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