Apr 29, 2011

Steampunk Scholar at Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition

As this gets posted, I'm headed to the Edmonton airport to board a WestJet flight, traveling the farthest east I've ever been in Canada: Markham, Ontario, for the Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition. I've been at the Toronto airport once before, returning from Jamaica, but I don't think that counts. As with most conventions, I'll see more of the hotel than Toronto or Markham, but it's more than just tarmac and terminals.

For those who will be in attendance at some point over the weekend, or for those still looking for a reason to come out, here's my schedule for the weekend. If you come by a panel, please come over and introduce yourself! For those who visit the blog, I'll be doing my best to update via Twitter (and hoping to do a far better job than I did at Steamcon, where I didn't tweet at all.)

Friday, April 29:

4pm: What is Steampunk? – With the Steampunk Scholar -- Beaufort West Room
More than just a primer, this panel digs deep to define a working definition of steampunk from an academic perspective.
Panelists: Mike Perschon, J.M. Frey
5pm: Steam Wars, Beaufort West Room
Star Wars gets steampunked! If you’re curious about what it takes to adapt an existing property into the steampunk aesthetic, this panel is for you. Also, Star Wars makes everything cooler.
Panelists: Mike Perschon
6pm: Canuck Steampunk, Beaufort West Room
Is there a Canadian Steampunk aesthetic? What’s being produced here? What makes Steampunk Canadiana distinct? Are we afraid of incorporating our own culture? How would we steampunk Tim Hortons, anyway?
Panelists: Mike Perschon, Rob St-Martin, Lee Ann Farruga.

Saturday, April 30:

10am: Envisioning a Better Steam Society: Social Issues and Steampunk, Ellesmere, 2hrs
A discussion panel concerning taking aesthetic inspiration in a historical era rife with sexism, racism, and classist thinking. Can the steampunk subculture come to terms with its problematic past, or are we just repeating history, except with ray guns? Together with the audience, we hope to engage in an open dialogue about whether steampunk confronts or condones the historical ideas behind its inspiration, how nineteenth century thinking is re-interpreted in the present day, and what makes steampunk actually "punk."
Note: continental breakfast items will be available for purchase at this presentation.
Panelists: Jaymee Goh, Mike Perschon, J.M. Frey
6pm: Steampunk Literature, Beaufort West
What's good, what's not; what's required reading and what are some hidden gems you may have missed.  Our panel of experts shares its reading lists from the varied perspectives of an academic, a reviewer, and a writer in the genre!
Panelists: Mike Perschon, J.M. Frey, Adrienne Kress
9pm: The Steampunk Scholar’s Top Ten Reading Countdown, Consuite
The Steampunk Scholar will present samples from his list of recommended reads, in the quieter, more relaxed setting of the Consuite.
Presenter: Mike Perschon

Apr 27, 2011

Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar (2011)

Lavie Tidhar’s Camera Obscura, out this week from Angry Robot, is dreadful: penny dreadful.
This steampunk novel both evokes the cheap, serialized sensational fiction of nineteenth century Britain, and engages the aesthetic of the comic book, grandchild of the penny dreadful. While it contains more literary references than any literature/creature mashups flooding the market these days, don’t go looking for high-brow literary illumination through this Camera’s lens: Tidhar writes in the manner Michael Chabon champions in “Trickster in a Suit of Lights,” applauding the speculative writers who keep one foot in the land of “literary” fiction, while invoking “the idea of playfulness, of mockery and inversion.” Tidhar is such a writer, delivering a rollicking adventure with passages of brilliant prose, all the while wryly winking at the reader. At its core, Camera Obscura is a little bit like a Dirty Harry movie, with a young Angela Bassett replacing Clint Eastwood, and 19th century Paris standing in for San Francisco. But that hardly encompasses the dizzying array of elements Tidhar weaves together in a maelstrom of pop culture and recursive fantasy.

Read the whole review at Tor.com!
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