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Steampunk Hands Around the World! Steampunk Road Trip. Grasping February’s coattails on the way out.

(Art by Alex Xpike)

Steampunk Hands Around the World is a recurring event in the Steampunkverse. I’ve had the pleasure of being involved since its early beginnings, though my contributions in the past few years have been erratic at best! The project is something I will always champion, since what drives Airship Ambassador Kevin Steil’s initiative is global connection and friendship.

He believes there is a need to unify Steampunks everywhere. Whether they are writers, crafters, bands, event organisers, alcohol manufacturers, diversity warriors, costumiers or simply lovers of the genre who express their enjoyment by attending events and gatherings, his wish is to tie them all closer together and break any walls that stand between different articulations of the genre. It certainly helps towards the ‘More Steampunk Than Thou’ syndrome that can still prevail sometimes, though much less so than when I first became more active and vocal.

I love meeting people, I always have. Steampunk has facilitated some friendships I absolutely never would have had and they cross other interests of mine, too. I made friends with Steampunks who are also pagans, Steampunk who are also musicians, Steampunks who also write across other genres, Steampunks who are also filmmakers, the list goes on.

Some of these friendships could be laid down on a map as a digital road trip, as I have yet to meet some of them in person.

It is a real feature of the modern age that we can sustain a friendship and grow close without physical proximity.

I’ve had some real life-wrenching, air-punching, joy-affirming, sorrow-sharing Skype and Facetime conversations. I’ve exchanged heart secrets via WhatsApp. (Probably foolish, actually considering no data is safe.) But it is a sharing across boundries, visible and invisible that is reflected in the idea behind Steampunk Hands.

When you end up getting closer, it does become an urge to meet up in person, something I try to do whenever possible.

Last year, I finally had the thorough delight to meet up with Diana Pho and her newly wedded partner Ashley.

When I first launched Steampunk India in 2012, Diana was one of the first people to express her enthusiasm and support. She kindly signal boosted articles and posts on Beyond Victoriana to help bring SP India to a wider audience. An online friendship grew through a raft of other mutual interests across fiction, comics, theatre, movies and being vocal for inclusion in various pop culture/alternative communities and LGBTQ representation.

So there we finally were, at one of my favourite Edinburgh haunts – Treacle on Broughton Street, loved by me for their inventive cocktails and the TV screen near the door that plays Thundercats episodes on an endless silent loop. Tipples of choice in hand, we chatted nineteen to the dozen about all these things we were passionate about and our most recent and current projects. It was short but sweet, she and Ashley were taking full advantage of the fact they were in town during the Fringe and had a show to catch. But these moments where lives touch, in this case lives that mostly play out continents apart, is exactly what the joining of Steampunk Hands is about.

Diana Pho of Beyond Victoriana (Right)

An armchair Steampunk road trip of sorts took place over the past two years or so. Josué Ramos and Paulo César Ramirez Villaseñor, as a direct result of connections made through Steampunk Hands, came up with the idea for a bilingual Steampunk anthology that would include writers from all over the world. It was homeless for a while until it found a publisher in Luna Press.

I covered this publishing journey in previous articles so I shan’t rattle on about it at length again. It deserves a mention as an example of a Steampunk collaboration that joined people together, who had become friends during past Steampunk Hands events and who, besides writing the fiction and creating the artwork, became mutually invested in the technical side of getting the book to see the light of day.

(Night train from Kolkata to Assam. ©️Suna Dasi)

At the beginning of this year, I was in India (which deserves a whole article in itself – if I manage to sit still for more than half an hour at some point) and could not let the opportunity slip for another joining of Steampunk Hands: Shreya Ila Anasuya is an award winning writer, academic and activist who currently lives in Mumbai. Those very worthy features are not the things that connected us at first, some five or six years ago. In fact, I’m pretty sure the very first thing we did together was fangirl online at each other about the Steampunk/Lovecraftian joy that is Hopeless, Maine, which I enthused about on the SP India Facebook page when it came out as a serialised online comic. We ended up chatting in the comments thread and have been corresponding ever since.

(Hopeless, Maine. ©️Tom & Nimue Brown)

A lovely addendum is that Tom and Nimue Brown, the creator couple who draw and write the comic together, also became friends in more than one way, though we have so far not met face to face. I occasionally exchange ideas and thoughts on various strands of witchcraft and paganism with Nimue, which is always fascinating as we both come from extremely different schools of thought and practice. Tom happily boosts all music projects I’m involved in and literally cheers from the sidelines when I sell a new piece of writing. They’re both just lovely and part of a minute group of people whom I would meet without hesitation after having known them previously online. Fingers crossed that will happen in the near future. But I digress down a sidetrack on this road trip…

Back to Mumbai; sweltering, blistering Mumbai, even in January. Shreya meets my travel companions and I in Versova Social, a bar that so utterly exudes the same wonderful vibe as De Kroon in Amsterdam that it’s uncanny.

And there we finally were, at Versova, now forever loved by me for it’s great ambiance, inventive cocktails and perfect lounge music. Tipples of choice in hand, we chatted nineteen to the dozen about all the things we were passionate about: poetry, books, queer activism and representation in Indian society, people we admired, writing projects we were involved in.

The best thing about this meeting was that there was more time; as all of our conversations ended up being unfinished business by the end of the night, we met up again the next evening and simply continued. There is even a joint fiction project in the works for the near future!

Shreya Ila Anasuya (Left)

India itself was a true road trip, too, and very often Victoriana and the modern clung chaotically together like a messy, jungly, Victorian/Blade Runner mashup.

(Kolkata, ©️Suna Dasi)

One of the things that struck me is the fact that it isn’t merely a small effort to imagine yourself back in the days of the Raj, but that your surroundings will accommodate you with ease.

(Yep, that’s me! ©️Suna Dasi)

Everywhere, traces of the colonial empire persist, in the architecture and infrastructure on first glance, in the culture when probing further and deeper under the skin of Indians and Indian-ness. It’s not so much what Indian culture has lost (which is much, if you consider for example that it was the Victorians who introduced a form of prudery and lack of acceptance regarding sex and sexuality that was hitherto not part of the Hindu mindset – also food for an individual article later down the line), but what it has retained. Indians are obsessed with giving out cards, for instance. It is a leftover from leaving calling cards when going visiting and it is seen as a mark of sophistication to have your own cards.

(Victorian lamppost, Juhu Beach, Mumba. ©️Suna Dasi)

This impromptu article was cobbled together in haste, to be able to contribute to Steampunk Hands Around the World before February 2018 turns into a pumpkin at midnight. I have neither expressed myself as well as I’d like, nor included everything relevant to the concept of a Steampunk Roadtrip. The main thrust however, is this:

Journeys are made more meaningful by the people and places you connect with. The more people and places you connect with, the richer your experience of the world and the more likely we are to have a greater understanding of it. The Steampunk Hands initiative insists that boundaries are there to be crossed, cultural walls to be scaled and continental distances to be covered, in order to make those connections.

So if you find yourself with an opportunity of meeting someone you might otherwise not be able to, for reasons of distance, circumstance or what have you, do it. Enjoy the chance of sitting in a favourite haunt, tipple of choice in hand, chatting nineteen to the dozen, sharing the things that drive you and stir your passions. Keep travelling.

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Filed under Books, Comics, Culture, Diversity, Events, India, Steampunk, Steampunk Hands, Steampunk Hands Around The World, Victorian, Victoriana, Writing

2018: Steampunk, SpecFic, Music and more!

Happy New Year!

Seldom do I post (for regular updates Twitter is best), yet now I have many excitements to impart. Please make like the tiny turtles in Finding Nemo and scooch together, my kind followers.

2017 ended on a high note with big gig conformations for Erin Bennett: Planet Rock’s Winter’s End Festival, (we play on Sat 24/02) plus Hawkwind’s Hawkeaster Happening, in Morecambe. Krow, too, has an epic gig confirmed – announcement coming soon! New album releases are pending for both. (For those of you who followed this blog fairly recently; I sing backing vox in both bands, which is how I make a living. I write in the gaps.) The Cherry on the Christmas Cake: invites for contributions to two new anthologies & a speculative poem for a third.

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2018 started with a bang because oh, my goodnes; My short story ‘Unmade‘ (featured in Steampunk Writers Around the World) has been nominated for a BSFA by the British Science Fiction Association! Many congratulations to all fellow nominees & my open minded publishers at Luna Press Edinburgh.

For the full list of nominees in all categories, see the BSFA website.

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Filed under Awards, Books, Diversity, EDM, Events, Music, Music Festival, Prog Rock, Rock, Science Fiction, SciFi, Short Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Steampunk, Writing

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

For Steampunk Hands 2015: The Raj Revised: Steampunking History

Pyjamas. Shampoo. Candy. Doolally. Loot. Bungalow. Cushy. Junk.
These words are all part of daily English speech. (Doolally being a personal favourite.)
They wouldn’t have been part of the English language had they not been assimilated during the British presence in India during the 1900s.

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It’s a perfect way to detect how interwoven the two cultures are. The impact of the Raj is a ripple in the global historical pond that hasn’t stilled to this day.
India, the Jewel in the British Crown, the spice in the English economy, the Empire its Empress never set foot in. This is where Steampunk India comes in.
Steampunk is partly based on an avid love of history. Many Steampunks pride themselves on incorporating historically accurate aspects of the Victorian Era in their costuming, events or building projects.The genre has come quite a way from being mostly Western-centric, with costumes that only reflect the fashions of London society during a certain period, with personas and narratives that are predominantly culturally relevant to Caucasian participants.

More than most creative genres, Steampunk is placed to be truly multicultural, truly inclusive.
I have a fascination for the Victorian Era, a love for maritime history, and direct hereditary ties to the exploits of the British East India Trading Company. As a result I have an avid wish to see more India in Steampunk.
In particular more Indian India, as it were.
In general I want more of Africa, of China, Malaysia, Borneo, Argentina and other non-Western countries, specifically expressions of and representations by the people of each nation. Women, people of all colours, LGBT folk; it is deeply important to further a more egalitarian expression of race and gender, both within the context of events and performance and by authors of diverse heritage and persuasions.

The photo collage below forms an example of where Steampunk inspiration could be found. All these images are from the late 1800s – early 1900s. Clockwise starting top Right: An Indonesian Sarong Weaver. A Malaysian woman in Nonya attire. A young Berber from Tunisia. Araucanian Indians and gauchos, Chile. A young girl, Borneo, possibly from the Kayan tribe.

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Collaborating with others for multiculturalism is vital.
One such collaboration took place last year. I was involved in two events for The Clockwork Watch Transmedia Project created by Yomi Ayeni. Through comics, interactive events and a website featuring a fictional Gazette of the world, Yomi has created a Steampunk milieu where Indian culture plays a more prominent role.*

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(From Clockwork Watch: The Arrival by Yomi Ayeni & Corey Brotherson. Artwork: Jennie Gyllblad.)

As part of the year-long celebration of the 300th anniversary of Longitude in 2014, the Royal Museums in Greenwich organised two interactive events, featuring some of the characters from the Clockwork Watch comics: I played the role of Tinku Ranbir, wife of eminent Indian scientist Chan.
The second event, titled ‘Clocking Off Late’, featured a piece called ‘The Tinku Diaries‘. Tinku’s character occupied the floor of the Maritime Museum that houses the permanent exhibition ‘Traders: The East India Company and Asia’. Visitors to the gallery were introduced to Tinku and instantly submerged into the Clockwork Watch story which merged with the actual history of our world. Artist and musician Ziazan played a mischievous spirit, flitting in and out of the narrative, introducing the public to elements of the created world.
A selection of diary entries scattered around the displays for visitors to find were protectively snatched from them by Tinku’s companion,Thomas, (played by Philip Whiteman) coiling tight the spring of mystery and intrigue that winds the Clockwork Watch.

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(Left: Ziazan carrying a special edition of the Clockwork Watch book. Right to Bottom: Tinku at her desk. A diary extract featured in the fictional London Gazette on the Clockwork Watch Site. Tinku speaks to a museum visitor whilst Thomas looks on, ready to usher the lady away should things get too personal.)

Yomi’s request to create the diaries as an original composition of my own allowed free reign to show an intimate glimpse of Tinku’s mind and experiences. Tinku’s predicament became very immediate to me during this creative process; an Indian woman in a Western environment, trying to carve out a meaningful place for herself while preserving her own values and integrity.
Her diary was also the perfect vehicle to include titbits from the East India Company history and acquaint visitors with a deeper look under the surface. I further incorporated some of the artifacts and paintings that are permanent features of the exhibit, in order to mix fiction with history, as is the Steampunk wont.
In her diary, Tinku mentions a Wadia Sahib. She is referring to Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia, (c 1754-1821), Master Shipbuilder at the Bombay Docks. His portrait by J. Dorman is part of the Trader’s Gallery collection:

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The diary ‘extract’ is an original piece of fiction, written especially for Yomi Ayeni. There is a possibility it will eventually be included in the greater Clockwork Watch narrative. It was a true pleasure to write. Both the diary and the event it was part of form a great example of Steampunk used as a Classroom.
As part of Steampunk Hands 2015, The Tinku Diaries will be exclusively published to the Steampunk India website at the end of February. Date to be announced.

* http://www.clockworkwatch.com

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Filed under Acting, Comics, Diversity, Events, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk Hands, Steampunk Hands Around The World, Writing

For Steampunk Hands 2015: Ships, Clocks and Stars, A Steampunked celebration of Longitude History

Welcome to the Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 event, which will reach out across the globe all through February, to connect as many countries, cultures and people through Steampunk.
My first contribution will be a recap of an historical anniversary effectively wedded to the genre:

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In 2014, Maritime institutions all over the world celebrated the 300th birthday of the passing of the Longitude Act. The Royal Museums at Greenwich, London organised year-round events, talks and exhibitions. T0 fire up the public’s imagination, the organisers would recreate what it might have been like to be a scientist, vying for the fortune and glory of the Longitude Prize. The medium: Steampunk.
Before diving into the delightful shenanigans that ensued, let’s look at the
-extremely potted – history of Longitude*:

Parliament in the United Kingdom passed the Longitude Act in July 1714, under Queen Anne’s rule. The Board of Longitude was established and announced the following:
“The Discovery of the Longitude is of such Consequence to Great Britain for the safety of the Navy and Merchant Ships as well as for the improvement of Trade that for want thereof many Ships have been retarded in their voyages, and many lost…” (and there will be a Longitude Prize) “for such person or persons as shall discover the Longitude.” – Board of Longitude, 1714.

To win the Prize, one was required to discover and, most importantly, demonstrate, a practical method for determining the longitude of a ship at sea. The more accurate the method, the more substantial the Prize money, which today would equate several millions of pounds. Unsurprisingly this generated a fever to be the first to discover the best and most accurate method.
Many years had already been spent on this very problem and had produced folk who harboured some rather bizarre notions.
One of the main issues with calculating Longitude was knowing the exact time while at sea, as clocks notoriously went off kilter due to a lack of consistent equilibrium. The problem, ultimately, was how to determine the time at a distant reference point while on a ship.
Kenelm Digby’s proposal involved the use of The Powder of Sympathy. This originated from theories put forth in 1608 by German physician Rudolf Goclenius,Jr.

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The recipe for the Powder ran thus: “Take Roman vitriol (copper sulphate) six or eight ounces, beat it very small in a mortar, shift it through a fine sieve when the sun enters Leo; keep it in the heat of the sun and dry by night.”
The Powder was then applied, not to the wound but to the weapon that inflicted it and so thought to increase the rapidity of the wound closing and healing. Digby proposed that ships brought a wounded dog on each sea voyage. An appointed person on shore would soak a bandage from the dog’s wound in a solution from the Powder, every hour, on the hour. Wherever the ship might roam on the vasty ocean, the dog on shipboard would howl in pain exactly at the moment. Thus the ship’s navigator could note the precise hour and thus, calculate Longitude. Nowhere does it state whether dogs were to be especially hurt for the purpose or whether one was to scour the streets for poor wretched mutts already sporting some kind of injury…

Two others attempting to address the issue of telling the precise time at sea were mathematicians William Whiston and Humphry Ditton. They surmised that generating a loud noise from land could be a viable means of calculation: If ships were anchored at 600 mile intervals along the coast and fire cannon, the ship’s navigators would be able to make a note of the times and intervals and so determine longitude. At no point did Whiston and Ditton seem to have considered how to work this wonderful sonic solution miles out on open sea.

However, the other side of the coin was that in the manic search for a solution (and snaffling the Prize, which to this day has actually never been given out) many scientists ended up adding to the knowledge of astronomy and physics in general.**
This aspect of the race to be the first, to invent and demonstrate a new and solid method once and for all, is what The Royal Museums pulled to the forefront in 2014 for their interactive project:

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The Museums issued an invitation to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828. Three main guidelines were given:
Aesthetics: objects that best demonstrate the aesthetics of 18th century invention.
Craftsmanship: objects that demonstrate the highest standards of craft and ability.
Spirit of Steampunk: objects that best demonstrate the spirit of steampunk as applied to the 18th century.
The works would be exhibited among the Museum’s genuine artefacts and shown as part of the original presentations of hopeful scientists, looking to garner a place among the scientific elite.
The beauty of this idea was that the whimsy of Steampunk and the slightly bonkers contraptions that are such a staple of the genre blended almost seamlessly with the more outlandish contributions of the scientists in the 1700s and earlier theories, such as Galileo Galilei’s Celatone: a device which would not look amiss on a Steampunk mad scientist now:

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And indeed, the winning Longitude Punk’d design was by Matthew Dockery, who was inspired to recreate a more modern version of this very contraption, based on a design by Samuel Parlour from 1824:

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Dr. Geof Banyard, who also created the Steampunk Tea Museum on board the Cutty Sark, took it upon himself to write accompanying explanations underneath the museum’s existing artifacts and paintings, giving an invaluable deeper insight into the historical period. Like so:

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Emilly Ladybird designed an Orrery Dress, so that the wearer would always carry the means of calculating Longitude on their person and would never be unable to pinpoint their exact location:

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Wynn Griffiths and Yomi Ayeni (who was also instrumental in the museum’s event organisation) contributed a dazzling find: A Dislocator Globe, which turned out to be the only piece of wreckage from a Time Travel vehicle by the name of Prime Landing. How it crashed or whence it came will probably always be a mystery.

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Lady Elsie presented the museum with the Pocket Watch Dress. Says she: “Each watch is set at an hour, so it shows 24 hours around the globe. The silver ribbon down the front (not visible in photo, ed.) is the time line which runs through Greenwich.” So carrying both the local time and the Greenwich timeline on their person, someone could always exactly work out their position. Cunning!

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Herr Doktor (Ian Crichton), an eminent inventor of wondrous strange contraptions, attacked the problem with his usual zeal and produced no less than a Precise Longitude Beacon. When asked about the exact workings of this impressive piece, his explanation was of such convoluted academic heights that it may confuse a layman. At any rate, It appears that the copper conductor domes on the land construction reach across the entire globe. This enables ships carrying a receptor device to pinpoint their location, that they may ne’er be lost again…

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The other exhibitions and interactive events including musical performances, science talks and crafting sessions, like the Steampunk Summer Fete and Clocking off Late, covered a wider aspect of maritime history and also delved into the impact of the British East India Trading Company. (This has been amply covered in previous Steampunk India articles due to an active role in these events. See blog for articles.)

The endeavour has been a perfect example of the innovation, love for creating awareness through history and sense of fun that form such an important part of the Steampunk genre. Through making, fiction and celebrations it becomes indeed our Workshop, Our Classroom and Our Playground…

* For more background on the History of Longitude:

– Longitude by Dava Sobel, 1995,
Publisher: Harper Perennial; 10th Anniversary Ed., 2005.
ISBN-10: 0007214227

– Finding Longitude: How ships, clocks and stars helped solve the longitude problem by Rebeka Higgitt and Richard Dunn for the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)
Publisher: Collins, 2014. ISBN-10: 0007525869

– The Quest for Longitude by William J.H. Andrews,
Publisher: Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments,U.S., 1996. ISBN-10: 0964432900

** List of contributors to science in the Quest for Longitude as featured on Wikipedia:

Galileo – detailed studies of Jupiter’s moons, which proved Ptolemy’s assertion that not all celestial objects orbit the Earth
Robert Hooke – determination of the relationship between forces and displacements in springs, laying the foundations for the theory of elasticity.
Christiaan Huygens – invention of pendulum clock and a spring balance for pocket watch.
Jacob Bernoulli, with refinements by Leonhard Euler – invention of the calculus of variations for Bernoulli’s solution of the brachistochrone problem (finding the shape of the path of a pendulum with a period that does not vary with degree of lateral displacement). This refinement created greater accuracy in pendulum clocks.
John Flamsteed and many others – formalization of observational astronomy by means of astronomical observatory facilities, further advancing modern astronomy as a science.
John Harrison – invention of the gridiron pendulum and bimetallic strip along with further studies in the thermal behavior of materials. This contributed to the evolving science of Solid mechanics. Invention of caged roller bearings contributed to refinements in mechanical engineering designs.

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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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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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The Clockwork Watch London Gazette Latest

A background article for the Clocking Off Late Nighttime Event at The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on the 13th of November.

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Tickets at http://www.rmg.co.uk/whats-on/events/clocking-off-late

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Special Limited Edition of Clockwork Watch Newspaper to be Printed for Clocking Off Late!

Extra Extra! Read All About it!

Via The Clockwork Watch: The Transmedia Experience comes this missive, hot off the press:

“We are printing a limited edition of our fictional newspaper ‘The London Gazette’ for those coming to ‘The Tinku Diaries’, next Thursday, at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

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This will be our new immersive theatrical experience, and it forms part of the museum’s Clocking Off Late series.”

Meanwhile, the Tinku Diaries themselves are to reveal many underlying secrets…

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Tickets Still Available from:

http://www.rmg.co.uk/whats-on/events/clocking-off-late

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Filed under Acting, Articles by Others, Diversity, Events, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, Steampunk