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Truancy Issue 2 Release 

It was a true pleasure to be part of the Roundtable: Intersections between South Asian Folklore, Myth and Lived Experience feature in Truancy Issue 2.
  
The questions and answers begetting more questions and answers provided challenging, wonderful food for thought. It was fascinating, moving and inspiring to read my fellow participants’ replies. Some of the resultant ponderings and conclusions didn’t make it into the (already blissfully long) article. These were the more personal ideas regarding diaspora, identity and place, coupled with the perceived legacy of folklore, myth and legends from various cultures that, for me, ended in the following.

Though I am nostalgic for something unexperienced when I yearn for being part of Indian culture in a way that was denied to me when I came into the world, I am simultaneously very aware that this is a type of… romantic affectation. 

There is no conflict of identity. I am very happily myself. Or rather; it has been my privilege to have had the space to become so, by trial and error, through joys and woes. That is solely the result of growing up with the cultural freedoms I enjoyed. Had I been born and raised within my own culture, bound by what I know to be the stifling constraints of my heritage, I would most certainly not have been able to become a touring singer, nor an all out, woman-loving equality activist, embodying nothing resembling religion, though you could argue I have an abiding, possibly worshipful wonder for science and nature. As a friend affectionately said once: You are a Sagan pagan. I’ll take that.

I adore being a fusion of cultures, a true citizen of the world – much overused as the term is. While I may not speak much Hindi at all, I speak three languages comfortably and a further two adequately. This roundtable, while actually being about folklore and inherited myths, has been excellent for crystallising some thoughts that have been swimming in the bottom of my mind like little blind fishes. I have long wondered whether all this superimposed angst of cultural belonging, or the judgment from people both Western and of countries you are ‘really from’ (recognise that question anyone? Folk always seem dissatisfied when I say The Netherlands!) may partly be a strange type of jealousy. Why not have it all? Why not have cake and eat it? 

Why not?

Nothing has been taken from me in that respect, rather a melding of cultures that has given my life that many more dimensions. Including the rich veins of mythology, fairy tales and folklore from more worlds than just one. I hope the roundtable gives insight and enjoyment of the different minds and backgrounds coming at those questions.

Plus, this issue contains wonderful fiction and artwork. Enjoy!   

 

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Filed under Articles, Articles by Others, Culture, Diaspora, Diversity, India, MultiCuturalism, Writing

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

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

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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Filed under Diversity, Media, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk, Uncategorized, Writing