Category Archives: Media

Other Projects: PandoraFest!

Beside Steampunk India and singing with Erin Bennett (my ‘day job’) , I am a founder of female positive music festival Pandora Fest. In the spirit of signal boosting on all frequencies, here is a recent article on the event by music blog Drunken Werewolf.

(Image: Erin Bennett & The EB Band (ft. Anna Fraser on drums and myslf on backing vox)

The festival has its inaugural launch next month, on July 16th in Scotland and features a great variety of artists and genres. There is opportunity to camp, glamp, browse the market stall, eat, drink and be merry! Everyone is welcome!

Though not strictly Steampunk related, the event certainly hits the independently minded, DIY button…And of course, if you are based in UK, perhaps you might like to attend..

Coming soon: news on the two publications that will feature Steampunk India short stories this year.

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Filed under Articles, Articles by Others, Culture, Events, Feminism, Media, Music, Music, Music Festival, Steampunk, Uncategorized, Website, Women

Season’s Greetings from Steampunk India

Christmas is close, how lovely! It’s nearly time to wrap up for the holidays. 

The last deadline of the year is looming: an article about Indian Steampunk for the next edition of SciFi Romance Quarterly. 2016 will see the release of the Steampunk Universe anthology edited by Sarah Hans, featuring my latest story, Internal Devices. I will be contributing to The SciFi and Fantasy Network and am excited about my involvement in a writing project instigated by fellow Steampunk Hands Around the World participants, which has been brewing for some time. February will of course see the 2016 edition of Steampunk Hands Around the World itself: the annual global effort to connect as many people across as many cultures through Steampunk as possible by local events, blog tours, themed articles, exclusive artwork and interviews and much more. Keep a weather eye on the Airship Ambassador’s site for details.

Work is ever ongoing for the Steampunk India-verse itself; short stories – and ,eventually, a book – are mapped out. I will delve into other genre writings as well as ongoing music projects. I will continue to work towards gender -and LGBTI equality in all creative industries

So please, keep your aural induction oscillators tuned to the aether, thank you for your support and enjoy the festive season, however you may celebrate! 

Merry Days from Suna Dasi.  

 

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Filed under Articles, Culture, Diversity, Fantasy, India, Media, MultiCuturalism, Science Fiction, SciFi, Steampunk, Steampunk Hands Around The World, Uncategorized, Website, Writing

In Pictures: Indian Women through the Ages’

An extremely evocative cross section of Delhi’s photography exhibition ‘Indian Women through the Ages’, taken between the 1850s and 1950s, is available on the BBC website .

The image below shows a Muslim dancing girl, taken in 1900. I can only wish the full range of pictures are available online or at least in a book of the exhibition.


So many Victorian writings and imagery from the Raj focus on the men of the culture. It was partly because of selective and biased writing, though there was a plethora of intrepid British women travellers who broke with convention by going into the Deep Interior by themselves and writing about their experiences. It was also common for Western photographers to not be allowed entrance in women’s quarters, daily affairs or sections of a household.

Fred Bremner, another famous Victorian photographer from Scotland, captured hundreds of people and daily Indian situations. Some of these were on display in a Scottish National Portrait Gallery exhibition ‘From Lucknow to Lahore’ in 2012-2013. They were fascinating, but it was his wife who let into several courts and zenannas to take images of the women and there was only one photograph taken by her in the exhibit. My keenest wish is for all of Mrs. Bremner’s photographs to become available one day!

 The Begum of Bhopal, photographed by Bremner’s wife, as featured on the Portrait Gallery’s exhibition poster.
From the ‘Picturing India with Bremner’ article on the Traveller’s India website: “Fred Bremner married around 1902, and his wife — he does not disclose her name — ‘gifted with good taste, was greatly interested in the art of photography and gave every attention to reception room duties as well as applying her hand to use of the camera on the occasion of photographing a Purdah [i.e. ‘behind-the-veil’ lady whose face… men are not allowed to look upon’. She even assisted Bremner in photographing noblewomen. ‘The Begum of Bhopal was visiting Simla and Her Highness expressed a wish to Mrs. Bremner that she would like some photographs of herself to be taken at Bhopal. All arrangements were made and during the summer… we found our way to Bhopal, which was a long and somewhat weary journey from Simla. However, all went well, resulting in my wife securing some photographs of Her Highness in State dress which gave her every satisfaction’. Bremner also noted that ‘on several other occasions Mrs. Bremner had the pleasure of photographing Indian ladies of the Harem’. “

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Filed under Articles, Culture, Delhi, Diversity, Events, Exhibition, History, India, Media, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, MultiCuturalism, Museum, Victorian, Victoriana, Women, Women's History

Priya’s Shakti: Comics, Justice and the Indian Way Part I – Interview with Ram Devineni by Suna Dasi

  
The brutal Delhi gang rape and subsequent death of the victim in December 2012 shocked the world. More importantly, it rocked India to its core, with outraged people taking to the streets, demanding better urban safety and an improved judicial system for rape victims everywhere in India. This is an ongoing issue that has yet to see full success, but slow progress has been made.

It is not easy to nudge a certain mode of cultural thinking that results in women drawing the shirtest legal and social straw into different channels. 

I have personal experience with this kind of crime and so have most of my female friends and loved ones, one way or another. I have on occasion used the resources of my work in support of organisations who work tirelessly towards making a difference. On a purely voluntary basis, Art Attack Films has created corporate films for Rape Crisis Centres and local police instruction in Scotland, to further better understanding and approach towards rape victims when they come forward to report their experience. The films were shot with both English and Polish actors; several organisations use them in their work with Romany travellers. One of Edinburgh’s largest universities used the films to encourage debate on the subject among their students.

Then, in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, which I had followed with horror and grief, the Priya’s Shakti campaign gained global traction in 2014. This unusual, creative and passionate initiative to create awareness through an interactive comic deeply moved and intrigued me.

  
(The Blippar App enables supporters of Priya’s Shakti to creatively show their solidarity.)

As an avid comic reader, I know what a great platform for social commentary and political satire it can be, not to mention how solace can be found in them if one feels different, alien and lonely outside the expected cultural norm. Many of Chris Claremont’s X-Men narratives saved my own teenage sanity for this exact reason. Looking further, Pat Mill’s Charlie’s War and Marshall Law, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and lesser known comics like 2000AD serials Bratz Bizarre and Finn instantly spring to mind.

Those not into comics would and do not particularly associate them with addressing societal wrongs. While comics are becoming more and more part of the cultural mainstream as a way to create our modern day mythologies, it is still one of the last bastions where one can get away with truly subversive and status quo challenging subject matter, where other fictional genres are beginning to creak under the increasing weight of politically correct sanitation.

It’s less dangerous when it’s drawn, right?

Read the FULL ARTICLE on the SciFi and Fantasy Network:

http://www.scififantasynetwork.com/priyas-shakti-comics-justice-and-the-indian-way-part-i/ 

  

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Filed under Activism, Articles, Comics, Culture, Diversity, Feminism, India, Media, Social Issues, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, Woman, Women, Writing

Rites of Spring: Holi in India

Today all of India celebrates Holi. This year is marked by especially moving events as widows are taking to the streets to participate. In India, widows are complete outcasts from society, shunned by their families and made to fend for themselves. Most of them make a pilgrimage to the two main widow communities in Vrinavan and Varanasi. There they live out the rest of their lives among each other. They may only wear white, are completely excluded from participating in life and barely scrape a living. (Deepa Mehta’s searing (fictional) movie ‘Water’ follows the lives and trials of a small widow’s conclave in Varanasi in 1938. Recommended if harrowing viewing.) This Holi, against traditonalist opposition, many of them have come outside to douse each other with colour and celebrate the coming of Spring. This is quite possibly the best smile I’ve ever seen…



Holi celebrations could be compared to pagan Beltain festivities: The celebrations start with a bonfire the previous night. Folk join each other by the fire to revel. The next morning everyone gets up early and a riotous carnival of colours ensues. Everyone plays, chases each other and throws vibrantly hued powder and coloured water. Massive water gun -and balloon fights break out everywhere. Anyone and everyone is fair game, family, stranger, friend or foe, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The entire city is overrun with frolicking people. Some go from place to place with musical intrsuments, there is song and dance all round. It is time for eating, drinking, love and intoxication: Bhang, made from cannabis leaves, is a common ingredient in drinks and sweets. 



(I have made a very conscious choice to show revelling, happy women: there is an aspect of Holi which is less savoury, which is that under cover of the powder men grab a chance to lay their hands on women. However, as this is a woeful component of the society any day and is something that is continually discussed, something about which movements for change are extremely vocal and activist, I have chosen to highlight moments of intimate exuberance.)



When night falls, people sober up and dress up, to go visit friends and family.

This historical image shows Holi celebrations with a group of women laying into some men with coloured powder. It is not uncommon for powder games to ensue where it very blatantly becomes about men vs women, family vs family or whole neighbourhoods against each other! Date unfortunately uncertain, possibly 1700s.



“Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.” – Wikipedia



Two women touch foreheads in a quiet moment in the revelries.

For the many background legends on the significance of Holi in different regions of India, visit: http://www.holifestival.org/legends-of-holi.html

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Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Thoughts on this year’s theme, by Suna Dasi

The time is upon us again. The time to give a show of Hands and make a global statement for Steampunk everywhere. To celebrate and enjoy all its different forms, expressions and cultural interpretations.
Last year saw the birth of this new initiative by Kevin D. Steil and the central theme revolved around Friendship and Community.
This year’s theme is Steampunk: Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop.

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(Image from http://www.logicmgnt.com)

Steampunk India is happy to be a participant again this year and will contribute through releasing exclusive fiction during February.
It was written for The Clockwork Watch Transmedia project as part of The National Maritime Museum’s celebration of the Longitude Act, thereby perfectly combining the whimsy of Steampunk, its historically overlapping points with Maritime and East India Company history and presenting this to the public through interactive events and exhibitions.

For details, follow the Airship Ambassador’s blog, which will be the hub for announcements of activities, events and participants.
All aboard the Dirigible of Diversity, break those boundaries and catch that horizon!

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https://airshipambassador.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/announce-hands-2015/#comment-3561

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Comic Crossover from Broadsword creators featuring Steampunk India!

It has been some time in the making but it is here at last: Comic artists Jim Balent and Holly Golightly’s comic Crossover collaboration, featuring a merge of the well known characters of Tarot: Witch of The Black Rose and School Bites comics…

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To generate an environment in which all characters meet, they used a trope very much at home in Steampunk: time travel.

And here is where Steampunk India gets a feature: the time machine is piloted by Indian mechanic Soona Day (a version of Steampunk India’s Suna Dasi).

2015/01/img_0697.jpg (Concept image still featuring the mouse crosshairs…)

In in spite of her engineering skills, the machine malfunctions and its passengers find themselves in a hairy – or perhaps one should say scaly? – situation in another dimension.

Suna Dasi: “I am thrilled with the Crossover comic and the manner in which Jim Balent and Holly GoLightly have made room for yet another diverse, strong female character of colour in amongst the regular faces! I very much look forward to see where the narrative takes the characters next.
The artists have been extremely generous with their characterisation and I am tickled to the highest degree that Steampunk India has become a (minor) part of the Broadsword canon.”

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The first section of the Crossover comic is available on

http://www.bscdigital.com

The comic is part of the Tarot: Witch of The Black Rose Reading Library as Tarot#90.

Related links:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Balent
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holly_Golightly_(comics)
https://www.facebook.com/broadswordcomics
http://www.steampunkindia.com
http://www.facebook.com/SteampunkIndia

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Bollywood Style Fiction Giveaway With Susan Kaye Quinn and Sonali Devi

Two authors writing diverse fiction have teamed together for an excellent Giveaway. Below they explain in their own words the whys and wherefores of their writing.

“Sonali Dev and Susan Kaye Quinn met in a most unusual place: Library Journal’s Top 10 E-Romance List for 2014. Sonali’s A Bollywood Affair and Susan’s Third Daughter both made the list with their Bollywood-themed romances – something that was so cool, it cried out to be celebrated!

2015/01/img_0823.jpgA BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR by Sonali Dev

Synopsis:
Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.

THIRD DAUGHTER (The Dharian Affairs #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

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The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

~*~

ROMANCE AND INTRIGUE: BOLLYWOOD STYLE

This short Q&A with Sonali and Susan talks about marrying for love and writing romance!

Q: Marrying for love is a modern, and in some ways Western, concept, but arranged marriages have a long and complicated history. How does your novel tackle the subject of arranged marriage?

Sue: Third Daughter is set in a fantasy world, but it’s a blend of cultures in the real one, including being an analog to India (both current day and some of the past). In the Dharian Affairs world, royal marriages have a history of being arranged for political purposes, but the general population of the countries marry for love. This leaves the titular Daughters with varying conflicts between marrying for duty and marrying for love – some embracing their arranged marriages, some fighting against it. The marriage dynamics of the three daughters in the trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter) drive much of the story – along with political intrigue and skyships, of course!

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Sonali: In India where I grew up arranged marriages are still very much a part of the fabric of the culture. Having said that, one of the most interesting and unique things about Indian society is how diverse it is within itself. While you still have communities and families who will give the marrying person absolutely no say in whom they marry there are those who don’t believe their parents and families have any say when it comes to whom they choose to marry or live with, and then there is the rest of the sizable population who falls somewhere between those two belief systems. In A Bollywood Affair, Mili is from a tiny village from a very orthodox family and it is perfectly natural that her family would arrange her marriage. She would expect that. It wouldn’t even strike a girl from her background that she could choose for herself. The age at which she was married isn’t usual, though, but there is a reason why her grandmother gets her married that young. As for her being in love with her husband, again, the conditioning to be devoted to your husband is so ingrained in the culture that it would be strange if someone like Mili didn’t love someone she believed was her husband.

Q: Whether set in a fantasy world or the modern one, romance is romance! There are many romance tropes – star-crossed lovers, lovers thrown together by circumstance, enemies turned lovers – what kind(s) of romance tropes does your novel contain?

Sue: My books are really a blend of romance and adventure, although the first book is a classic “lovers thrown together by circumstance” as Aniri (the Third Daughter) goes undercover in accepting a marriage proposal from the barbarian prince in the north in order to spy on him and determine if his country truly has the rumored flying machine that would upend the political dynamics in both their countries.

(Example of a Steampunk flying machine, artwork by Chanmeleon)

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Sonali: Although I didn’t set out to write it that way, several readers have pointed out that A Bollywood Affair is a Worldly Rake and an Ingenue Virgin trope. And now that I think about it, there’s truth to that.

Q: Are you planning on writing more romances in this story-world? If so, tell us about it!

Sue: The Dharian Affairs trilogy is complete, but I’ve enjoyed writing in this east-Indian steampunk fantasy romance world so much, I’ve decided to do a follow-on trilogy from the point of view of a new character—a female tinker who has a grand invention that may change the world, but also is caught between the spy she might love and the spy she can’t resist. Those books likely won’t be written for a year or two, but I will cycle back to writing in this world in the future!

Sonali: The Bollywood Bride comes out next year and it’s the story of a Bollywood star who comes home to Chicago after ten years to escape a scandal in Mumbai and comes face to face with the man she betrayed for stardom. And then there are two more stories I’m working on in the same series. Which isn’t a series in terms of continuity or overlapping characters but because the stories are set in the same world and either the hero or the heroine work in Bollywood.”

WIN BOLLYWOOD PRIZES

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Paperback of Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
The Dharian Affairs Trilogy in Ebook
2 Paperback copies of A Bollywood Affair
Handwoven Pashmina shawl from India
Sticker Henna Tattoos
Indian bangles (bracelets)
(all physical prizes are US ONLY; ebook is INTERNATIONAL)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Clocking Off Late: A photo impression from the event.

An impression of the 13th of November’s Clocking off Late Presents: The Tinku Diaries, a collaboration between The National Maritime Museum Greenwich (Katherine McAlpine, Richard Dunn), Clockwork Watch: The Transmedia Experience (Yomi Ayeni) and Steampunk India (Suna Dasi as Tinku Ranbir).

Here we see Tinku at her business, welcoming visitors to the East India Trade Gallery and answering individual questions from members of the public.
Her trusty assistant Thomas (played by Phillip Whiteman) is ever by her side, or hovering near in case he is needed.

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Armistice Day 2014 – The India connection.

Today is Armistice Day, which this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing.
The first photograph depicts WWII Spitfire pilots of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim heritage, taken in 1944. (Image source unknown, information welcome.)

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Second photograph, from 1921: The Chattri Memorial in Brighton commemorates the Hindu and Sikh soldiers who died in WWI and is the only one of its kind in Britain. The photo is taken on the day of the official unveiling of the memorial by Edward, Prince of Wales. (Image courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove.)

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