The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday, my second novel in the Airship Flamel Advenstures Series is now available!The book is a prequel to my first novel To Rule the Skies, although I think of it more as just coming first chronologically. It follows the main character from my previous novel, Nicodemus Boffin, from his boyhood to about a decade before the events in To Rule the Skies.The synopsis:Nicodemus Boffin, a uncommonly clever boy growing up in the ash heaps of East London, reaches the pinnacles of British science when he is mentored by the great scientist, Michael Faraday. When Nicodemus finds a secret laboratory notebook in which Faraday has described incomprehensible experiments, he wonders if his mentor has discovered a new science, or lost his faculties. Nicodemus’s rival, Viscount Whitehall-Barnes, seeks to gain the notebook by any means necessary to study the descriptions of a strange orange mineral with unusual properties similar to the alchemists’ Philosopher’s Stone. Realizing that the Viscount must never learn the secrets of the orange stone, Nicodemus strives to keep the knowledge hidden, protect his family, and preserve the legacy of his mentor.The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday is available from Amazon as paperback and for the Kindle, and at Smashwords (as well as other on-line bookstores) for most other ebook formats.See More
Sometimes one just has to get away. Some disappear to a monastery. Others go away to a foreign land. Some just stop doing what they were doing.
Dieselpunk Vacation PosterI’ve decided to take a two month sabbatical from writing this blog. My plans are to return sometime in September, no hard date set, and pick it back up again.
Until then, take good care of each other. Because that’s what’s life is all about.
Kevin Steil commented on Kevin Steil's blog post Airship Ambassador Interview #105 with Caress author, Eli Easton
Airship Ambassador Interview #105 with Caress author, Eli EastonAirship Ambassador Interview #105, "Caress" author, Eli Easton -https://airshipambassador.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/eli-easton-1/See More
American Epic comprises a three-part historical music documentary, a feature-length performance film, and a set of companion album releases. The project is executive-produced by Jack White, T Bone Burnett, and Robert Redford directed by Bernard MacMahon and written by Bernard MacMahon, Allison McGourty, and Duke Erikson of Lo-Max Films..
Featuring newly discovered film footage and photographs, American Epic is the result of "some eight years of research" by MacMahon. It examines the period from the 1920s when US record labels explored rural America to find new audiences for music, and recorded "a huge variety of folk, blues, country and ethnic songs", representing "the DNA of America, its raw expression". The films feature "exclusive interviews with some of the last living witnesses to that era, when the musical strands of a diverse nation first emerged".
In addition to the three-part historical documentary there is a recording session with contemporary musicians released as a DVD and CD.
The official American Epic web site
The official American Epic PBS site
The official American Epic BBC Four Arena site
There will be more information. Stay tuned.
All I will say here is that all my readers should continue to check in at Dieselpunks.org. Big news is indeed coming.
In January of 2017 Fascist writer Jared Taylor began posting perverted versions American posters from World War II. These perverted posters included one of Rosie the Riveter where here replaced the words ‘We Can Do It!’ with ‘Don’t Apologize for Being White’.
If you don’t know who Taylor is, he’s an American white nationalist who believes that intelligence and race are connected and that whites are the superior race. He founded the white supremacist organization New Century Foundation, which uses pseudoscience to promote the philosophy that whites are a superior race. In addition, he’s the editor of the Foundation’s magazine American Renaissance. He is a former member of the advisory board of The Occidental Quarterly, and a former director of the National Policy Institute, a Virginia-based white nationalist think tank. He is also a board member and spokesperson of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Taylor isn’t some uneducated hick. According to Newsweek magazine he’s Yale-educated and is trilingual in English, Japanese, and French. In addition, Traylor has a Masters of Arts in international economics at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), graduating in 1978.
So why this appearance of racist posters? When Taylor was asked why he launched his poster campaign, he response was, “We just got inspired…. The timing is good, given all of the controversy around the Trump presidency.” Such views should not be a surprise since as the Conservative newspaper Wall Street Journal reported Taylor supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and recorded robocalls to support Trump before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.
On a personal note, I find Taylor and his beliefs repugnant. This recent stunt of taking American World War II posters and twisting them into racist propaganda perverts what men and women were fighting and dying for. When Dieselpunks acknowledge the racism of the Diesel Era (circa 1920s - circa 1954) it’s to combat it, not celebrate it.
I intentionally didn’t post images of the posters. If the reader wants to see one, visit the Newsweek article. That article not only has several examples but an in depth analysis with a great video.
This intriguing production stars the internationally acclaimed, all-male dance company BalletBoyz.
According to the Great Performances web site,
"The narrative follows a young solider and his squadron’s experience of basic training, combat, and ultimately, the destruction of modern warfare. The film is shot without words, instead using the locations and carefully choreographed dance to depict the devastation of a continent. The characters themselves remain ambiguous, representative of the experiences of young men of every nation as they struggle to maintain their humanity in an unending cycle of combat and death.
These young men succumb to the terror of their situation in a myriad of ways. War takes its mental and bodily toll on these comrades, as they struggle to survive one day’s destruction, only to wake to another’s mortal threats. A potent combination of music and choreography, the film is an immersive emotional journey into the reality facing young men at the extremes of human experience."
This production originally aired April 7th. If you missed this you can see it online at the official Great Performances web site.
Rounding out this year, University of Minnesota Press came out with a new academic anthology that I’m proud to be a contributor for—Like Clockwork: Steampunk Pasts, Presents, and Futures. This anthology tackles the cultural influences that lead to the rise in popularity of steampunk from the early Naughts onward; as its website description states, “From disability and queerness to ethos and digital humanities, Like Clockwork offers wide-ranging perspectives on steampunk’s history and its place in contemporary culture, all while speaking to the ‛why’ and ‛why now’ of the genre.”
My contribution, “Punking the Other: On the Performance of Racial and National Identities in Steampunk” had a long journey from grad school paper to publication, and finally seeing this in print has made me reflect about how much has changed since the article was first written, and how much of its commentary has become hauntingly relevant today.
The premise of Like Clockwork posits that the traumas of a post-9/11 affected our social and cultural understanding of time, technology, and the individual’s role in the historical narrative. Steampunk is fun and imaginative, but it is also ironic and critical of the past it draws from (and the future it mashes up with). The genre is about humor and pulp storytelling, about fashion and maker culture, about cosplay, satire, and pastiche. “Steampunking” became a cute catchphrase meaning how can one retrofit an object, an idea, or a narrative: a verb to ignite creative re-imagination. But steampunk is also passionate, critical, and serious in its performance.
The Past — What I was interested in back in 2012 was how people constructed their creative identities around imagined retrofuturist self, combined with current pop culture. These identities, made for play and entertainment, also speak about the political self. In the essay, I state that “A postcolonial view of steampunk posits the reexamination of dominant historical narratives in Western canon to embrace cultural hybridity and challenge the traditional power dynamics of national identity. It asks, ‘What groups are seen as part of the ‘nation’?’ and ‘Who gains the rights and privileges of citizenship?’, questions that have been increasingly defined against racial and cultural difference.”
Back then, I was thinking about who was seen as the explorers and who the savages, who had the honor of serving the Queen versus who slaved under Her, who held the power and what did they do with it. It makes for great games of wish-fulfillment and subversion, or wistful explorations of nostalgic superiority. Or a lot of creative works that fall in the gray in-between (good art never asks simple, binary questions). Art can be empowering; it can unintentionally or actively endorse problematic messages; it can be catchy and have great hooks and beautiful aesthetics, and it is never, ever amoral. These were the questions I kept asking when I critiqued the artists and performers I wrote about.
The Present — The anthology, written to address a post-9/11 world, now is out in a post-Brexit, pre-Trump world. It is a darker world, one where a whimsical longing for a “historical past that never was” rubs up against slogans about building walls, registering religious minorities, and Making America Great Again. It is a more nationalistic world in a frightening way, where playacting as fascists comes too close to the swastikas and hate speech I see graffitied on the streets of the city I love.
Many people did not foresee the stuff of our worst imaginations and in our moral selves being brought to light. Society wanted to sanitize our histories for modern consumption, and in doing so, we forgot how easy it is to repeat history’s mistakes.
Are you seen as part of our future nation? Do you deserve the rights and privileges of citizenship? You might, but do they?
And what will you do about that?
The Future — Over the past few weeks, I’ve overheard and participated in conversations all asking the same question, “What is my duty as an artist now?” More questions: Does my art mean anything anymore? Should I be doing something different with my life? What can I do to protect the most vulnerable, the people I love?
I don’t have easy answers to these questions. No one does. But there are many, many acts happening right now that will show what the future holds.
Steampunk has typically been seen as a positivist, optimistic genre, under the premise that we still have the opportunity to make things better as long as there are ways we can put dreams into action. To make things into reality. To question our pasts in order to stop terrible futures looming in our present.
Because, we must remember that steampunk subculture is performative. It is an action and not a static identity. Steampunk is a verb.
Featuring work by: Kathryn Crowther, Perimeter College at Georgia State University; Shaun Duke, University of Florida; Stefania Forlini, University of Calgary (Canada); Lisa Hager, University of Wisconsin–Waukesha; Mike Perschon, MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta; Diana M. Pho; David Pike, American University; Catherine Siemann, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Joseph Weakland, Georgia Institute of Technology; Roger Whitson, Washington State University.
Filed under: Announcement, Essays Tagged: academia, books, Like Clockwork, University of Minnesota Press