Monday, February 18, 2013

Catching Up

Sorry about the radio silence lately - life got unexpectedly complicated after SteamCon last year, and I have not had a lot of time or energy to write lately. If you know me in so-called "real life", you've already heard the story, and if not, this isn't a place where I choose to share large chunks of it - look me up at AnomalyCon, SteamCon, or on the Steampunk Cruise and I'll tell you more...

Anyway, there are things that I had wanted to talk about on here, but of course it's now just a few weeks until the Steampunk Cruise and I'm once again madly rushing around, finishing costuming projects and postponing the really cool ones. I've got a little time, however, to put down some of my thoughts about the events I've recently attended, and I've got a few more pictures of the projects I've actually finished that I can share.

So - back in October, I made it to MileHi Con, which is the local science fiction con. There's a sizable local Steampunk contingent (thus AnomalyCon, our local Steampunk event), and a fair bit of programming aimed at the Steampunks. Cherie Priest was one of the guest authors this past year, and I really enjoyed her presentations. I also made it to an author reading by Carrie Vaughn, as well as a panel discussion that she moderated. There was also a hands-on workshop on resin casting that gave me a lot of ideas for costume elements...

Cherie Priest talked about several things - her house, her characters, Steampunk in general - but the ones that stuck out to me were the ones that dovetailed with some of my own interests within Steampunk, specifically the cultural critique that Steampunk lends itself to in talking about issues of colonization, colonialism, race relations, etc. At that point, Ms. Priest's novel "Ganymede" was the most recent one out, and I really enjoyed the cast of characters. Evidently, some people complain that certain of her characters are "too unrealistic", and that this interferes with their suspension of disbelief. Zombified corpses are okay, and turning the substance that causes zombification into a street drug is fine, but they have a problem with, for example, a strong female character that functions as a highly effective spy. Insert eye roll here.

As Ms. Priest pointed out in her presentation, that particular character (not from "Ganymede", actually - this character is one of the primaries from "Clementine") is in fact based loosely on Belle Boyd, and was toned down for the novel. It certainly says something about the way some people think that a Steampunk fantasy novel in which the Civil War drags on for an extra decade or two as steam-powered war machines slug it out is somehow made less "realistic" by a Belle Boyd character - and it's probably worth noting that, in looking up Ms. Boyd's name, I immediately ran across references to articles regarding the "embellishment" of her record. Evidently, people have the same problem with a strong female character in real life as well...

And that's pretty damn sad. Plenty of male memoirs are "embellished" - and in a lot of cases, it's still the embellishments that people remember (George Washington and the cherry tree, Paul Revere's ride, Robert E. Lee's tactical brilliance).

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