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Issue 01

May 2010

Issue 01

May 2010

“The World’s Fair: My Secret Steampunk Agenda” by Jeff Mach This is an adaptation of some earlier words. It was a rant, and I wouldn’t claim otherwise-but it’s also the core of something I believe very much, and something I want to convey to others. We have a unique moment in Steampunk; we may have a unique moment in the history of subcultural movements in the West in the past two hundred years. We have the privilege and the opportunity to take this in our hands and mold it, and I, for one, plan to grab the Bos primigenius by the horns and run with it. Let me be specific: Folks, I plan to smash down genre walls with my goddamn face, and I’m going to smash them down so hard that people hundreds of years later will still be finding bits of them and selling bits of broken brick as souvenirs to the fall of unnecessary division between us folks out here on the fringe.

I’ve spent the past ten years trying to create events which would appeal for just about everyone whose tastes go beyond, or outside, the ”mainstream”-whatever the hell that is. I quit my job, lost most of an eye, damaged my wrists, and destroyed my credit; you think I’d give that away todo something which excluded you? As an event developer, I’m in an interesting position. There are still quite few Steampunk events. And a lot of people know me from my otherwork, with, say, Wicked Faire. They come up to me, or write to me, and say,”Jeff, I’m not into Steampunk/I don’t know enough about Steampunk/I don’t have fancy clothes/I’m

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May 2010

“Raising Steam in New Jersey” by Matt DeBlass The weekend of May 14, 15 and 16 marks the start of a whole new type of Steampunk event, the Steampunk World’s Fair, held in Piscataway, New Jersey. What makes this event somewhat unique, said co-organizer Jeff Mach, is that while most Steampunk gatherings are more in the mode of a convention designed to appeal mostly to Steam aficionados, the World’s Fair is a festival, welcoming to all regardless of whether they’ve had any previous retro-futuristic experience. Mr. Mach said he was first clued in to the subculture when folks in neo-Victorian garb began to appear at his other major event, the Wicked Faire. “I was fascinated by the potential in the

movement,” he said, “also, I like mechanical arms.” Mr. Mach joined forces with Josh Marks, formerly of Salon. com, and Whisper and Cap of the Penny Dreadfuls to create what may be one of the biggest Steampunk gatherings on the planet. An exciting prospect, he said, but not nearly as exciting as the chance to create an event that brings together so many elements of the Steampunk, from music to invention to intellectual discourse. Mr. Mach and his compatriots also take a broad view of what is part of the genre. “the only person who’s qualified to decide what is and isn’t Steampunk is Jules Verne,” he said, “and, as anyone who’s ever raised Jules Verne’s ghost knows, whenever you ask him about ‘Steampunk’ he just begins ranting about The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, So it appears that we can never truly say what is and is not Steampunk.” In fact, he says, one of the strengths of the genre is that it

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“Today’s News of Yesterday’s Tomorrow.”

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Issue 01 cont’d from page 1 not a super-Steampunk like you... so I guess the World’s Fair isn’t an event for me.” And I say, “You’re kidding me,right? I’m sitting here wearing a `Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ t-shirt and listening to Britney Spears’ “Piece Of Me” (shut up, it makes me happy!)-- and you think that I’ve some how got some sort of mega-Steampunkcred?”

May 2010 ing and creating things looks good to you, then regardless, you are in the right place. Should we be able to identify each other? Ideally, yes. But we shouldn’t be doing so as if we were identifying cars. And we shouldn’t need to tell people how to dress in order to include them with us. You really shouldn’t have to invent a chrono-navigator, go back in time, and become best friends with Jules Verne in order to be a Steampunk .... though if it did, you can damn well wear a Lady Gaga t-shirt and jeans, if you want. At that point, you are a Steampunk, and damn what people think.

I’m not saying that Steampunk has no guidelines you could follow, or is completely anarchic--my good friend G. D. Falksen has put out some Do you like what I excellent work on the say? Do you think I’m subject of ways to be an idiot? Let me put Steampunk, for exampleJeff’s Top 3 my argent where my -but because it has no Favorite Steampunk Movies That laughing gear is--and walls. It has no limits. It Aren’t “Wild Wild West”: I have. Everything I’ve didn’t come from a single got is invested in The source; it can’t be credited • Charlie & The Chocolate Steampunk World’s to a single time; it is limFactory Fair. Let’s see if peoited to no single place, no ple like it or hate it. single mood. Steampunk • Time Bandits And if you think you is what I’ve dreamt all my can do better, I hope life: a single movement • The Adventures of Baron you can! I’ll be glad to which will gladly incorMunchausen have a race tosee who porate other movements. can create something The World’s Fair’s first more awesome. Let’s Brian Viglione video bring more awesome “The Chess Match” - can into the world, and clearly be called Steamlet me ride my autokipunk--but I can find a natonic velocipede all the dozen themes in that one-minute-eightway there. second film. Many years ago, I created the Rutgers Rocky Horror Picture Show Club--a group which wasn’t allowed to put on Rocky Horror, and so had to find something else to do with the completely unsorted assortment of various kinds of weirdos, freaks, misfits, and oddly almost-normal people who showed up to meetings. Back then, we had a simple motto: “If you like us, we’ll probably like you.” It’s not about the clothes, it’s not about the way you talk, it’s not about whether you know or don’t know specifics of music or culture-- it’s not about whether you’re “more” or “less” Steampunk than someone else. If this movement of build-

May 2010

“Giving Steampunk Music Its Definition” By Lucretia Dearfour Steampunk is a subculture, an aesthetic, and for some people a lifestyle. One of the aspects of Steampunk that makes it different from other similar cultures is that it did not initially emerge from music. Because of this we know what literature to read, we know what clothing styles to pay homage to or to completely vandalize, but we have a hard time picturing what lovely sounds may be emerging from our phonographs. While Steampunk music tends to be specific to the style of Steampunk one is trying to go for, the one common aesthetic

that Steampunks tend to cling to is a post-World War I/Brechtian-style cabaret sound with a modern twist. This is in large part thanks to the success of the Dresden Dolls. That success--which has since then become part of Steampunk's overall attractiveness--is in part due to their modernized cabaret sound, period stage makeup, and their love for theatrics. The Dresden Dolls don't incorporate staples of the steampunk motif into their music--references to the Industrial Revolution, mentions of airships and their pirate crews or even (with the exception of "Coin Operated Boy") any mention of clockwork at all. The old-fashioned 19th century entertainments, however, are strongly integral to their shows; their self proclaimed "punk cabaret" style makes them a major influence upon other Steampunk bands. For instance, they would often encouraged stilt-walkers, fire-breathers, and other off-beat performers to provide their own show outside of venues where they would be playing. While The Dresden Dolls can be considered a Steampunk influence, one cannot discuss Steampunk music without mention of Abney Park. Musically speaking, Abney Park doesn't stray too far away from its Goth/Industrial roots but what makes it a Steampunk band are the thematic elements in their song lyrics and the band members creative personas as a crew of airship pirates. In contrast with The Dresden Dolls constant experimentation, Abney Park does not push any musical boundaries; on the other hand, their influence on the Steampunk sound is huge because of their "I think Steampunk, therefore I am Steampunk"attitude. Other bands, however, reflect the Steampunk aesthetic in both their music personas. Dr. Steele is an example of a performer who fully embraces his steaminess in this style. Dr. Steel take on the persona of a mad scientist bent on world domi-

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Issue 01

May 2010

“What Steampunk Could Be” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Steampunk recently. This has been caused by the inauguration of All Things Steampunk. What specifically has been on my mind is the question: what is it? This is one of the first questions that everyone asks when they hear the term ‘steampunk’. I was all fine and dandy with this idea, creating answers with clichèd phrases and the like until I ran across this fellow name Jeff Mach. You see, the idea that I had in my brain was more about aesthetics. A kind of look, so to speak. This would imply that something else would not be SP simply because it didn’t exactly fit into the definition that I created. Mr. Mach’s idea of what SP is, but more importantly what could be, has totally blown my mind away. It has reminded me that there is a larger world out there. That many things can fit into this world and comfortably co-exist. I will continue to strive for my aesthetic design goals for SP. However, it is no longer for the purpose of segregating what is not Steampunk, but to create a container for All Things Steampunk. Joshua Kuhl

May 2010

“Today’s Best Steamreads for the Novice Steampunk” By Ay-leen the Peacemaker Steampunk is more than flaunting that bustle or tipping your top hat; it’s a movement that started off on the page. Unlike other subcultures like goth, punk, and emo, which sprung from music, Steampunk has its roots firmly in literature. Anyone interested in reading up on Steampunk works has a range of literary choices.   First, there are the nineteenth and early twentieth century classics that have inspired Steampunk, such as Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, H.G. Welles The Time Machine, H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories, or Pride and Prejudice san the zombies. Then there’s the category “proto-Steampunk” a.k.a those modern sci-fi books that came before K.W. Jeter coined the word Steampunk in 1986: examples include Michael Moorcock’s Nomad of the Time Stream series, Jeter’s Morlock Night, Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates.  And, don’t forget the watershed novel that jumpstarted the subgenre: William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine.   Well, I’m not going to talk about any of those. While they’re all great reads, Steampunk lit's growth is on the rise with emerging talent. Below are my top five must-reads in Steampunk subgenre today. So grab your mono-goggle and take a gander at the list below:   • Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio Girl Genius has become a cornerstone of modern Steampunk fiction. Created in 2000 by the talented couple Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius follows the mad science adventures of Agatha Heterodyne, the last known heir of a legendary family who discovers that she has the Spark—that is, the hereditary ability to become a scientific genius at the cost of sanity. Agatha learns how to control her abilities as a Spark while at odds with the many people who

want to control her power and her family’s legacy. The creators refer to the comic as “gaslamp fantasy” to address the more fantastical elements of Girl Genius, but many fans admit that GG was their gateway drug into Steampunk. Oh, and did I mention that the comic has won one Hugo Award and is nominated for its second? Soulless by Gail Carringer Soulless is Jane Austen meets Buffy—a witty, fun read that expands Steampunk horizons to include vampires and werewolves in Victorian England. The feisty protagonist Alexia Tarabotti doesn’t fit into proper English society, being unmarried, half-Italian, and without a soul. Not many people know about the last part though, and being soulless is an unusual power that renders the supernaturals of London powerless at Alexia’s touch. But when a string of newborn vampires start appearing (and disappearing), supernatural society starts pointing fingers at her. What’s a young woman to do? Take out her trusty parasol, hitch up her skirts, and find out the answer herself, of course (with the help of a handsome Scottish werewolf to boot!)   Boilerplate by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett An alternative history cleverly conceived and designed with wonderful coffee table treatment, Boilerplate delves into the life and times of the world’s first mechanical soldier. Boilerplate was designed in 1893 by Archibald Campion with the aid of close friends and inventors Edward Fullerton and Nikola Tesla and unveiled at the World’s Columbian Exposition. From there, Boilerplate is taken on various adventures around the world from the Boxer Rebellion in China to an Arctic exploration

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Issue 01 cont’d from page 1 has flexible borders and draws from a wide range of material. “Steampunk is a subcultural movement which doesn’t have a single common source,” he said, “and that means nobody can own it, It’s the first open-source subculture! There are no rules about who can and cannot create Steampunk, and that means that it’s incredibly vibrant.”

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to encounters with famous folk like Pancho Villa, Theodore Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia. Boilerplate succeeds in accomplishing a sense of verisimilitude with various “real” photographs and period art featuring the intrepid robot. Moreover, the book addresses the very real marginalized histories of women and minorities that, like Boilerplate’s own “history,” had been lost to time. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Sedia’s Steampunk fantasy fable is about Mattie, the mechanical girl who can see the world with alltoo-human eyes. Mattie is a “free” sentient automaton, who feels out of place in her world for being the only one. She earns her living as an alchemist and receives an unusual assignment from the mysterious gargoyles of the city: how to prevent them from turning permanently into stone. In the meantime, class tensions are rising, the rivalry between the alchemists and the mechanics is brewing, and revolutions are being planned. The Alchemy of Stone is lyrically written and touchingly told, deftly handing issues about humanity, technology, class, and race.   Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

May 2010

May 2010 A frenzied romp that shows that Steampunk doesn’t have to be set in Victoriana England—and in fact, is even better when it’s not! Set in the frontier town of Seattle, Boneshaker mixes Steampunk with Weird West and Horror. The citizens of Seattle face a zombie apocalypse when the Leviticus Blue’s Boneshaker drilling machine releases a mysterious underground gas that beings the dead back to life…and craving human flesh! Years later, Briar Wilkes, a pariah for being Blue’s widow, has to return to the shut-in downtown Seattle in order to rescue her wayward son Zeke. Boneshaker is high adventure with airship pirates, gas masks, tense fight scenes and one diabolical mad scientist, and it creates one of the best Steampunk settings outside of Europe to date.     Author Bio: Exiled from her homeland, the French-controlled colony of Tonkin, Ay-Leen the Peacemaker once joined the International Assassin’s Union only to be kicked out for never paying her dues. Now, she can be found when you least expect her, fighting the good fight in the name of justice and a free meal.  Her motto? “It’s not violence, it’s action!” She also maintains a blog about multicultural Steampunk.

example, the Boston-based Humanwine had, for a long time, fought the idea of being labeled as anything, let alone Steampunk, in spite of the fact that all the signs were there: they use a Cog and Wrench as their symbol, adorn themselves in keys, tattered and torn clothing, and wear Sepia and earth-toned fabric. They even had former Dreaden Dolls drummer Brian Viglione on their Fighting Naked album. Another example, is Voltaire, who had flown under the Goth flag for years, and still does, yet embraced his Steampunk and pirate natures for his album To the Bottom of the Sea. Other bands and styles get lumped into Steampunk without their knowledge. Rasputina, a band who consists of two cellists and a drummer, dress in Victoria undergarments and create jewelry out of pieces of their broken instruments. Though they sound like the epitome of Steampunk, they never identified with the aesthetic or were even aware of the term's existence. But that lack of knowledge about the terminology does not make them any less Steampunk to their listeners.

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Read it at beyondvictoriana.com.

cont’d from page 2 nation, a theme incorporated in songs such as "Build the Robots." but He also indulges in the theatricality of his own persona on The Dr. Steel Show, a series of long-form music videos in which Dr. Steel provides his Toy Soldiers followers with music, propaganda, and his own style of sketch comedy. All of his work can be found on YouTube, and has only increased his popularity among steampunks new and old.

Credits Editor: Matt DeBlass Publisher: Joshua Kuhl Comptroller: Doug Martin Advertising: Joshua Kuhl Copyright © 2010 by Kuhl Dreams Distributions, LLC

Oher bands have either fought the label or had no idea Steampunk even existed. For

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All Things SteamPunk - Issue 1 v5  

Subversive Steamer Artist Jeff Mach talks about SteamPunk Culture.

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