Airship Ambassador Interview #100, Part Five

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Welcome back for Part Five of Interview #100. Here is the first half of the answers to the third 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

 

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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Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine: Since the launch of our series, we have noticed more steampunk festivals, steampunk-themed bars and restaurants, and more appearances of steampunk in various media like graphic novels and video games. The question of “What is steampunk?” is being asked less and less from us, thanks to Michael’s offering a steampunk line, reality game shows like Steampunk’d, and more interest in the genre kicked up by special events like our own Steampunk Tea Event in Shepherdstown, WV.

Oh yes, and teapot races. They are happening everywhere!

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Jaymee Goh: I can’t say much about this because I’ve actually not been keeping up! =( It’s one of those sad things about academia… I don’t get to go to as many steampunk conventions as I used to, and much of what I see in my little corner of the Internet is so much the same as what it used to be that I lose interest very quickly.

In mainstream culture, though, there is now a settling of the aesthetic into just another style that one can indulge in. It got normalized fairly quickly. There is a bit more awareness of how Victorian-centric it can get once in a while, but that was always a criticism of the aesthetic from the start, so that’s not new either.

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Jean-Christophe Valtat: I might be wrong on this, but , over the last few years, I have seen the movement veering away from its original literary source to become more of a life style. The Maker movement is a case in point, for instance. I also suspect the audience became more and more Y.A- oriented, and accordingly a bit standardized, which is not good news for my work. That said, all Young Adults will eventually get older ! But I also think inroads have been made, like a certain post-colonial turn, for instance, which is totally compatible with steampunk.

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Nick Valentino: Everyone is pushing the envelope and it’s wonderful. People all around the country are constantly trying new things with steampunk. It stretches from every aspect of the culture. From costuming, to creation, writing, movies, art, photography, jewelry…. this could go on and on. There is no aspect of steampunk that isn’t constantly being improved upon, worked on, played with and added to with increasing creativity and passion. We’ve gone from the guy with the amazing looking mechanical arm to fully mobile steampunk wheelchairs, Automated rolling steampunk fortune tellers, and actual steampunked robots that serve beverages. It’s all so incredible, and is a testament to people’s ingenuity, creativity and passion to make something unique. Like any technology, even steampunk is becoming more complex as people create things that have never been done before.Everything has become more intricate, and more detailed than ever before. I imagine this will go on, and we will continue to see increasingly amazing things.

As media goes, a big change was the television show, Steampunk’d. It was the first time that Steampunk fully took center stage on a mainstream show. It’s really the first time that the culture has not been a plot device to Sean Connery, or Will Smith. The show, while only lasting one season, featured the makers, judges and the art of Steampunk, introducing countless people to the culture on an equal platform to any other “reality” show. So, since Steampunk was featured, it was put on an equal platform with surviving, modeling, clothing designing… insert any other theme of a reality show.

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Evan Butterfield: Steampunk is more and more rapidly becoming mainstream, which is of course aesthetically appealing on the one hand, and a little disappointing on the other: with any mass popularization of a once-subculture, there’s a lot of charm and idiosyncracy that gets sort of buffed over along the way to make it a little more accessible, a little more family-friendly, a little less rough-edged and quirky. Once your subculture has been the subject of a reality competition, you’re not a subculture anymore. I see a lot of steampunk aesthetics in Cirque shows and sprinkled around TV–from the obvious suspects like the lamented Penny Dreadful to little steampunky touches in Gotham, and a lot in anime.

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James Ng: I’ve seen steampunk being taken into the mainstream more often now. But I feel it is very obvious when the producer is an actual fan of the genre, or just trying to brand it as a “weird fad” to make money. And the reception of these shows really reflect the motivation. Steampunk is very centered around the creator, many things are “do it yourself” or “built it yourself” theme to it. When a show does not credit the usage of artwork from creators of the genre they are trying to exploit, it is bound to fail. However, I’ve seen more and more projects spring up on Kickstarter that is steampunk theme, and actually there are many major production that uses alot of elements of Steampunk, so I think we are on a good track.

 

Join us tomorrow for the second half of answers to this question in Part Six 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 22, 2016 at 6:54 pm  Comments (5)  
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Airship Ambassador Interview #100, Part Four

aa-square300Welcome back for Part Four 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

 

What opportunities, steampunk or not, have come your way because of your involvement and work in steampunk?

 

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James Ng: Well, like I said so many years ago in my initial interview with you. I have always been fascinated by steampunk visuals and my interest in Chinese history inspired me to create my series. But I actually didn’t know the term “steampunk” until I posted my work online. But since my involvement with steampunk, my career became tied closely with the term. I’ve received many steampunk commissions and invitations from conventions and art shows. It has brought me to Korea, California, New York, London, Moscow, Italy and many other places.

Recently I am taking part in “Mechanical Wonders” group show in Vancouver BC, and also working on 2 steampunk illustration commissions as well as a steampunk themed beer label design.

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Gail Carriger: This is a hard question for me to answer as I owe my whole career to steampunk. So… everything?

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Richard Preston: Well, it was my steampunk series that got me my first literary agent and my first publisher deal, so obviously it has opened a lot of big doors for me. It also got me involved with Jeff VanderMeer, the author of the Southern Reach series, and he is a wonderful guy who has helped my career along, on top of him being a magnificent writer. I’ve also met a lot of great people in the steampunk world due to the smaller cons, including Tayliss Forge and a whole bunch of writers, and they have all been awfully nice.

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Diana Pho: Well, I could say that steampunk helped get my current job as an editor, because it if weren’t for my involvement for Tor.com’s steampunk blogging events, I don’t think I would’ve landed in Editorial. And the best part is making the jump from being a creator of artworks to becoming a facilitator of others’ steampunk (and SFF) works! I’m in a position to see the fiction I want to see come out into the world; Steeplejack and A Dead Djinn in Cairo are just two examples of the type of diverse stories I want to support.

Additionally, though I decided not to go the PhD route, my academic studies has been an exciting journey that has helped me get in touch with many fellow geek academics over the years. I’m still interested in academia — particularly digital humanities and media studies — and neither would’ve been on my radar if it wasn’t for the interdisciplinary nature of steampunk and the wide variety of intellectuals it draws in.

And, not the least, I’ve met some of my closest friends through steampunk (including you, Ambassador! 😉  The community has helped me during times in my life where I left the lowest; it has been a chosen family when I felt estranged from my birth one.

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Mike Perschon: I would say just about everything I’ve done in academia since 2010 is because of my involvement and work in steampunk. I’ve not had to work hard to get publications – they come my way. Even this book opportunity fell into my lap, so to speak. Being one of the only people on the planet taking steampunk seriously has been very, very good for my career.

 

Join us tomorrow for answers to the next question in Part Five 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 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm  Comments (6)  
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Airship Ambassador Interview #100, Part Three

aa-square300Welcome back for Part Three of Interview #100. Here is the first half of the answers to the second question.

Read Part One here. Current Involvement, Part one

Read Part Two here. Current Involvement, Part two

 

What opportunities, steampunk or not, have come your way because of your involvement and work in steampunk?

 

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Lev AC Rosen: I got to read and talk about Ada Byron at the New York Victorian Society’s Ada Lovelace day, which was excellent.  Apparently, the depiction of Ada in All Men of Genius has been written about in various essays and books, which is awesome.  I didn’t realize I was so academic.

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Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine: We have received more invitations for works in anthologies, both in the United States and overseas, on account of our work in the Ministry. We were also approached to have our universe turned into a FATE-Core roleplaying game, The Ministry Initiative by Galileo Games.

Finally, we were featured VIP guests alongside NYT Bestseller Gail Carriger at Reconnaissance, the official Science Fiction convention of New Zealand; and VIP guests of Steampunk H.Q., the modern art-hands on museum in Steampunk Oamaru, New Zealand.

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Arthur Slade: Well, I continue to publish books with a variety of publishers and my latest book, Flickers, came out in May (2016). The Hunchback Assignments was my first series of books to find international acclaim and that opened the door for me to work with several publishers in other countries. The series also brought my work to the attention of two film companies, who I’m working with right now to develop the series into a movie. I will admit that I have a background role. I’m not a script writer and wanted the pros to handle that.

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Jaymee Goh: Hrm, most of my opportunities have come from being very vocal on social media. Definitely The Sea Is Ours is a result of the publisher liking what I do in steampunk. I’ve also been able to present at conferences and met some very excellent people, and been invited to present at conventions, too. My paper on mad science in steampunk at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts, for example, led to a reading invitation. I’m also editing this year’s WisCon Chronicles, an anthology series which records and explores the ongoing discourses happening at WisCon, a feminist science fiction convention in Madison, WI. Vintage Tomorrows, a documentary on steampunk that interviewed me, was just released.

But I’ve also been invited as a guest to conventions which have led me to meet people I never would have met otherwise. My first GearCon in Portland put me in the immediate vicinity of James Carrott and the Vintage Tomorrows film crew, and about 5 years after, the documentary is now on Netflix.

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Jean-Christophe Valtat: It has been a boon for my books, giving them an audience able to relate to what I was doing, however strange it was.

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Nick Valentino: There are too many to name. I’ve found a new group of friends, even some I consider family from nearly every state in the country and in Canada. When I went on the year long book tour for Thomas Riley, I met more amazing people than I could ever have imagined. (Including my wife) In meeting those people, I have gotten connected with literally hundreds of awesome opportunities. I’ve been a part of 4 steampunk anthologies, been in an issue of Steampunk Magazine, done hundreds of panels, been a guest or guest of honor at conferences all across the country and gotten the opportunity to tour Canada with my books. I was part of NAIBA (New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association in Atlantic City. I’ve been able to be a part of Book Festivals from San Diego to Maryland. All of this because I decided to write a “niche” steampunk book and get involved with the fandom, the culture, and the people. I now have the most creative and wonderful friends all over the place and it’s something I wouldn’t trade from the world.

The biggest thing to come from writing this book and getting involved with Steampunk, is the fact that I met my wife at The World Steam Expo in Dearborn Michigan. That changed my life in the most amazing ways. I’m a better person than I used to be because of that one conference. Literally, I owe the community of steampunk everything just for that chance encounter.

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Evan Butterfield: My steampunk shoots have gotten me connected with professional models, and I’ve worked with a number of them on steampunk- and non-steampunk-related shoots.

 

Join us tomorrow for the second half of answers to this question in Part Four 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 20, 2016 at 7:20 pm  Comments (8)  
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