Tag Archives: steampunk

A Fantasy Short Story Inspired by Rajasthan, India

Last month, Turtleduck Press released this anthology:

Under Her Protection edited by Siri Paulson

My contribution (besides editing the anthology) was a story about a maidservant and an inventor, set in a fantasy/clockpunk version of Mughal-era India. I spent six weeks in India last year and fell in love with…well, many things, but especially the historical architecture. So writing about it was a no-brainer. And as a bonus, that means I can put up related photos…

The story opens at Amber Fort (also called Amer Fort), a fortified palace in Rajasthan, which looks like this. Click to enlarge any of the photos (all copyright 2013 Siri Paulson).

Amber or Amer Fort

Amber or Amer Fort

Gateway in Amer Fort

Gateway in Amber Fort

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Convention Report: FanExpo 2014

Fair warning: I’ll start with some explanations, but I can’t explain every reference. This post will get geekier as it goes on…

What Is FanExpo?

Yes, that's a person in the Stormtrooper suit. Photo by Louise Kiner.

Yes, that’s a person in the Stormtrooper suit. Photo by Louise Kiner.

Labo(u)r Day weekend saw Toronto’s biggest fan convention — FanExpo. It’s a comic-con for people who like comics, anime, gaming, anything to do with science fiction and fantasy and horror (mostly TV and movies), and related activities such as steampunk and LARPing. Actors show up and sign autographs and do photo ops. (This year’s celebrity guests included Elijah Wood, several actors from Doctor Who, William Shatner, and Patrick Stewart.) Hundreds of thousands of people flood the convention centre. It’s crazy and geeky and overwhelming and exciting all at once.

This year I didn’t go to any of the panels or Q&As. My geekery tends to revolve around books, and although I do watch genre movies and TV, I’m not terribly interested in seeing the actors involved. (I tend to be disappointed when they’re less articulate than their characters — probably the fault of the sharp dialogue that’s in vogue these days. Plus you have to pay extra for autographs and photo ops, and it’s not cheap.) However…

The Cosplay

Star Wars cosplayers

Star Wars cosplayers. Photo by me.

One of the biggest parts of FanExpo is cosplay — people dressing up as their favourite characters. Part of the fun is watching the effort that people put into their costumes, either replicating the originals with as much attention to detail as they possibly can, or putting a twist on them (like genderswapping). For more on cosplay, see Kit Campbell’s Introductory Guide to Cosplay and my own post from last year’s FanExpo.

Many years ago, I used to cosplay as Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I haven’t done it in a long time. But this year, my two partners in FanExpo crime decided to dress up as two of the Doctors from Doctor Who. So I pulled together a last-minute Amy Pond costume (based on this outfit).

Me, Ninth Doctor, and Fifth Doctor. Photo by a kind Doctor Who Society of Canada volunteer.

Me (left) and my partners in crime, Ninth Doctor (kneeling) and Fifth Doctor. (Why yes, that is celery in his lapel.) Photo by a kind Doctor Who Society of Canada volunteer.

It wasn’t a total success — for one thing, my hair isn’t red enough to be noticeable anymore — but it was fun. I don’t think I’m going to be hooked into cosplaying again (I have too many hobbies already) but I did enjoy taking pictures with — and of — all the Doctor Who paraphernalia and the other Whovian cosplayers.

(And then I bought a T-shirt with some Game of Thrones snark, but I digress.)

Even more fun was drooling at all the other cosplay. I saw:

  • lots and lots of Doctors (mostly Eleven since Matt Smith was there — saw an excellent Ten and several Nines, and one of my companions went as Five, but no Twelves), Amy Ponds, and River Songs
  • also lots and lots of anime cosplay that went over my head (since that’s not my preferred style of geekery), and video game cosplay ditto
  • a fair number of superheroes and other comics characters, though fewer than last year (I guess because it’s been a few years since the last really major superhero movie)
  • lots of Stormtroopers (but not much else from Star Wars)
  • several great steampunk outfits
  • genderswapped Mal Reynolds and several Jayne hats (but not much else from Firefly)
  • one Ms. Marvel / Kamala Khan in hijab — didn’t get a picture, but more power to you, lady!

(Warning: more large photos after the jump.)

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Writing a Short Story for Seasons Eternal

Seasons EternalToday I’m talking a little bit more about Seasons Eternal, the second SF&F anthology from Turtleduck Press. (The first one is here.) I’m the editor there, and I also publish short stories through them. When we put together an anthology, I get to do both at the same time.

For this year’s anthology, we chose a shared premise — what might happen to a world where the seasons stopped changing? Each side of the planet is frozen in a different season. A century later, various societies have evolved to cope, but they’re still struggling under the pressures of the change.

But you can’t write a story about a society. Stories are about people.

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Friday Link: Free Short Story

Happy Friday! This week, I’m pointing you to Turtleduck Press because I have a new short story out, and you can read it for free online. It’s a Halloween-ish, steampunk-y, Gothic sort of tale called “The Dangers of Creation; or, A Machine to Rival Man”.

Here’s a teaser….

It is a sad and peculiar tale that I set to paper today, in this year of Our Lord 18–. In this modern age of science and industry, such events as I am about to relate could not have occurred. But pray cast your mind back to an earlier time, when Her Majesty was just beginning her reign and all the realms of possibility seemed open to us.

I was a young man then, a student of music at an ancient and esteemed university that you would know if I said its name, eager for knowledge and mastery of my art, and I chose as my companions those who had a similar thirst. One of them was a Mr. L—, a peculiar gentleman who was fixated on the philosophy of music with a fervour that even I could barely match. Still, he was a pleasant enough conversationalist, and when he invited me to take dinner at his home, I accepted readily with thoughts of passing the evening in stimulating discourse.

The directions he gave led me out of the university town proper and into the countryside, a charming walk. When I reached the gates he had described and passed into a dark tangled wood, I felt some hesitation. However, he had mentioned wanting to show me a most curious instrument he kept at home, and this prospect drew me onward.

Read the rest at Turtleduck Press.

That’s it for this week. Have a lovely weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Convention Report: Fan Expo 2012

Usually Mondays on this blog are devoted to books, sometimes movies. But in my head, the theme is “Media Mondays”, so today I’m going to write about something media-related that hasn’t been featured on this blog before.

You Must Be Over 18

Photo by Louise K. (link at bottom of post)

I’m talking about a con — a science fiction/fantasy convention.

First, a brief primer on cons. There are two main types. The first is literature-oriented, focusing on books and book-related discussions. Guests tend to be authors and editors. The second is all about visual media — movies, TV, comics, anime/manga, gaming. Guests tend to be TV stars and comic book artists. This is the kind of con where people dress up in costume (cosplay). It’s much larger than the first kind.

I’ve been to both kinds over the years. The con I’m writing about today is of the second type — Fan Expo, an annual convention held in Toronto.

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Friday Link: Queen Victoria’s Diary

Today’s nifty historical discovery: Queen Victoria’s diary is now online. Sounds like an invaluable resource for historical writers, steampunks, history buffs, Anglophiles, and anybody whose curiosity leans that way.

From the Toronto Star:

The ruler who reigned over the British Empire for more than 60 years gushed to her diary about meeting her future husband and how “delightful” it was to go swimming.

For the first time, the public can access those passages and others from Queen Victoria’s diaries with a few clicks of the mouse. A website featuring the personal journals of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, who wrote exhaustively during her 63 years on the throne, was launched on Thursday, the 193rd anniversary of her birth.

Previously, the journals were only accessible by appointment at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, meaning it was mostly academics who read them.

“It’s quite unusual for the entire journal of a leader who reigned over the country for over 60 years to be made available,” said Suzanne de la Rosa, head of communications at the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University.

Read the rest of the article, including some choice quotations, here.

One line that caught my eye: “Only 13 of the journal volumes are in the Queen’s handwriting. After her death, her youngest daughter Princess Beatrice spent more than 30 years transcribing and redacting her mother’s diaries.” Which makes me wonder how much Beatrice changed…

Happy long weekend to my American readers! It’s just a regular weekend here in Canada, so I’ll be blogging on Monday as usual. So long for now.

Friday Video: Automata in the Modern Age

For your Friday viewing pleasure, I’ve found a short BBC slideshow/video about antique automata. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to embed it, but if you like steampunk, vintage toys, or old things in general, do have a look. (Don’t click if you have a fear of mannequins or clockwork toys.) It’s quite wonderful.

Automata in the Modern Age

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday!