#SteampunkMonth On Naming Conventions

Already I’m seeing a small divide in the reviewers of For Steam And Country, and it has to do with the naming conventions. It’s a small thing, but it could lead to be a big thing if all goes well. I figured it’d be fun to talk about before the release (9 days to go!).

Most Steampunk literature is solidly Victorian to being set in the late 1890s or whatnot, so you’ll get a lot of names like Edwin Smith. George Buckley III. Etc. For a fantasy world, I wanted something different, and I wanted it to be different than normal fantasy too, since the fantasy genres are littered with interchangeable nonsense names like Frodo, Bilbo, Drizzt types.

I wanted really to make a blend of the two. You’ll get commoners in the book that have very simple names like James Gentry, but the nobility stand out in Rislandia. I developed a naming system for nobles, granted by the king, that actually highlights their steampunkness. I have a whole short story in mind that I may write later, explaining how it came to pass, but the main concept is that at one point, nobility were put in charge of higher works of art and goods production, and they had a title to match that. They come across sounding a bit silly, but that’s also an element that helps the king keep any noble from gaining too much power — as it’s pretty hard to start a rebellion if you sound a bit silly. That’s why you’ll get:

Zaira Von Monocle

Talyen Von Cravat

Mathias Du Gearsmith

as names of nobles in the book. On the out-of-character side, it has a bigger purpose: you’ll be more likely to remember it. Since there’s no other books that really have a naming convention like this, it’ll make everything that happens in For Steam and Country more memorable. I do have a little bit of a marketing and branding background, believe it or not.

So far, what I’ve found is that those more prone to reading YA type books love the names, and I’ve gotten some big compliments on that front. The more Science Fiction-style reader tends to look on it a bit more skeptically. But that’s the fun background of it for your future reading enjoyment. I do think some of these things out (perhaps a little too hard). Maybe I’ll start a trend in future Steampunk works? 🙂

 

#Steampunk Month: Anime Rewatch – Last Exile Eps 1-3

Steampunk has been a concept that’s cropped up in a lot of Anime, some of which I’ll talk about more of this month — but Anime is a medium that’s allowed retro-futurist tech to flourish in their concepts, as they don’t have the same American need for “hard” science fiction or fantasy delineations, often making for really cool creative concepts.

Last Exile is one of those series, something I loved years ago, and so I started watching it again as we discuss Steampunk topics, as I recalled it being one of the closest anime to steampunk that we had.

The series is about a fantasy world Prester, and there’s a couple nations Anatoray and Disith which are at war with each other. There’s a guild that oversees the rules of airship combat — and it’s got the oldschool chivalrous form of warfare where sides line up and fire at each other. The opening episode starts with a group breaking that chivalry and sending the world into turmoil.

It’s got steampunk airships — which teeter between steam/dieselpunk in their operations. they have machine gun type weapons that soldiers are outfitted with, driven by steam pressure, shown off in the very first episode. It’s got a lot of Napoleonic cultural themes to it as well. I love the different airship designs representing the different nations, it’s very cool.

The art doesn’t hold up all that well–  these were early experiments in the transition to digital art in anime, and it shows in a lot of spots. Though I like the way the ship designs are and the characters look, there’s points where it throws a viewer out.

The first couple episodes really show us that whole big-world scope concept, while introducing the main characters Klaus and Lavie — who are independent messengers who use their personal airship, more of a fighter-style one they call vanships, to deliver messages. We learn there’s a guild and rating system for how dangerous the missions are, with pay accordingly.

They get thrust into this conflict that we see, and it’s actually a pretty dry presentation of the battle from an impersonal perspective most of the time. I wasn’t nearly as gripped in these episodes as I remember being with the series from a long time ago. Still, the world is intriguing enough to continue.

The third episode is where it gets interesting. We start off with a pod-race style set up, which is boring in and of itself until the twist, where we see a downed fighter pilot, a young girl, and a message that has to be delivered. Some crazy sci-fi enemy is chasing him down and our heroes accept responsibility to bring her to safety. It’s just the opening volleys, but with great airship battles and fast pace, I’m excited to go through this series again.

A big focus overall so far on adventure and battling, with ordinary heroes who are taking on more than they can chew.

 

The Last Crusade: Go Forth And Trust In God

One of the hardest things to do is trust in God. There’s always a doubt about what you’re going to do, but that doubt is seeded, and it’s something intentional to keep you from enacting God’s will. A lot of the time you’ll have this nagging sense in the back of your head: I need to do something. If that something is uncomfortable for you, something that scares you, and something that you can’t see how it would benefit you—odds are that small voice in the back of your mind is God.

This past week in church I was particularly inspired because we have a pastor who has been called to go found and create a new church. He’s packing up his life, leaving, with nowhere to live, nowhere to work, just going based on what he heard from God. I can’t see myself ever doing that. With a family, this sort of call is extremely difficult, but it’s also something that we’ve seen throughout the Bible. This is exactly how God calls us. From Moses, who stuttered and couldn’t speak being called to be a leader. To Jonah, who was told to go to the Ninevites. To the disciples who were fishermen and tax collectors, normal people who had no business being leaders. This is how God calls.

I had a nice theological discussion with someone on Gab last evening, where the person echoed this sentiment with: “screw up for God.” Though it’s a bit crass of a way of putting it, the sentiment is actually correct. God calls us to action. If we’re afraid of doing it wrong, or getting bogged down in the details of “can I do this the way he wants” we’re never going to accomplish anything. And so it’s better to put ourselves out there when we hear his voice.

I had this nagging voice for years in an uncomfortable situation – to witness to the Science Fiction readership community. It’s extremely uncomfortable because this crowd is hostile in the extreme toward the message of Christ. Many spit at Christianity, deeply engrained in their worldly religion of scientism that rejects any of the supernatural or any faith.

But that’s also where God’s needed the most. We need to create strongholds within the Enemy’s domain. In the places that seem like they’re solid rocks and too hard to penetrate. We need to be the voice inside the echo chamber. It’s really hard, it’s not fun at all. It’s cost me a lot of friends, and my name is mocked and spit upon regularly as a consequence.

But that’s not meant to deter you. A great friend approached me a few weeks ago when I was really taking some heat, and in the middle of my failing and responding negatively to it, he reminded me of the words from 1 Peter:

“Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for this is you were called that you may obtain a blessing.”

It’s counterintuitive, and I fail in this often, but we are called upon to receive reviling. When we get this, we have to keep in mind that it’s a good thing. We are being blessed and we should bless those similarly. It’s really hard to do, and it takes constant reminding and remembering. Part of writing this is to help remind myself to do this. Peter later mentions the reason why and a call to action:

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’s sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect; having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”  

We have to suffer for doing what is good. He reiterates that it’s a blessing. We have to also be out there, speaking loudly the good news of Jesus Christ, even if it appears not welcome in the world. And it will appear unwelcome. It’s uncomfortable, and that’s where it comes back to trusting God.

I strive to be more like this pastor who is willing to give up his life and walk for Jesus. Just like the apostles did. Though it’s more comfortable just to be quiet and let the world go as it would – even though at a time like this with a book release, it’d be easier to stay on the fiction topic, just talk about happy entertainment and not post a message like this, even though I risk turning off new readers. God has called me. I have to speak. I have a lot of work to do in myself based on the passages above. But I’ll try to rejoice in the future and maintain blessings on those who hate me.

I’ll leave you with these questions to reflect on: what’s God calling on you to do? How can you bring about a greater glory for his kingdom? Are you blessing those who revile you and showing the world what is right?

#SteampunkMonth Short Story Review: Chasing Christmas Past by Melanie Karsak

I learned of Melanie Karsak’s Airship Racing Chronicles through a friend yesterday, and figured I’d check out the short story last night. The short is very short indeed, and it’s actually available for free on amazon, so well worth a try. 

The short opened in a personal moment, a sad Christmas eve of getting drunk for the fair Lily, captain of the airship Stargazer. She’s alone while others are enjoying Christmas mistletoe and jolly times in a bar, and the story sets off on a Christmas day airship race where they’re late because they overslept after drinking so much.

I loved the airship race. Descriptions were beautiful. It was gripping and thrilling.

It’s cute, and didn’t try too hard for a twist — though I suppose there’s a romantic one involved, and I found it to be an enjoyable read. I think perhaps the story really started more when the waking up to airship race began, but I don’t fault the part of introducing the characters first, especially as this is meant to be a sampler for a larger series. The end was a bit rated-R for my tastes, and the characters went a little too debaucherous for me, but that may be a plus in some people’s books.

The story actually was very good on characterization, unlike most shorts that I read. A big plus there. I get the feeling there’s a little more depth for people who understand and have read the full series, but this stands alone fine.

Overall, it was well written, and definitely a good enough teaser to warrant checking out the series. 9/10

#SteampunkMonth – Why Steampunk?

I’ve tackled this topic on the blog before in a brief form, but I’ll expand upon it. 

Yesterday, on Twitter, I mentioned “I love steampunk because airships.” And this is mostly true. I would also say that seeing such elaborate and diverse costumes over the years has been equally as inspiring, but what drew me to even look at those costumes and think of them was the concept of the airship.

Oddly enough, I’m scared to death of flying. My fascination doesn’t translate to the real world. If you sit next to me on a flight, I’ll have white knuckles gripping the armrests and I’ll be staring out the window like a frozen animal in the face of a predator. It’s awful. People hate sitting next to me because I make them so anxious. Part of it is probably a lack of trust in other pilots in control, but that’s another story.

Airships though captivated me ever since I first grabbed what was then Final Fantasy III (and is now labeled VI, yes I know it’s confusing for the people not familiar with it!) on the SNES. The video game starts out as a fantasy with some cool Mechas that operate off of magic, another interesting use of mechanical technology in the place of standard fantasy tropes, but the game really opened up when the player receives and airship.

It took the map of the game and allowed you to fly over anything, go to secret islands to level up and find cool rewards, head to a floating continent in the sky — another use of the concept of air travel really– and I’d subconsciously thought of that throughout my life.

I’ve recently watched and rewatched all of the  Hiyao Miyazaki films with my kids, and I’m definitely not the only one who’s fascinated this way. Almost all of his films feature some alternative form of air travel. Kiki’s Delivery Service, while the main is flying on a broom, has a supporting character who’s designing a personal bicycle with wings for example. Naturally there’s Castle in the Sky which has all sorts of different mechanical or magical air vessels. Different means of flying and epic air battles of swashbuckling more like the sea battles of past than what we see in modern air combat are just cool concepts worth exploring.

Airships really come about in four forms in steampunk or semi-steampunk literature/film:

  1. The zeppelin or blimp style airship. These are the most prominent from what I’ve seen, spanning from the early Final Fantasies to most steampunk books and art. If you look at the early 1900s, this was one of the most highly regarded forms of air travel, until people realized in trial by error that a big gas balloon could be extremely deadly.
  2. Magical airships. Like the Castle In The Sky, sometimes there’s just floating things that travel off of some magic force that don’t get explained away, but hold a certain charm to them all the same.
  3. Propeller Airships. Final Fantasy XII had one of these and I thought it was super cool. And this was what I went with in For Steam And Country, as the characters describe giant turbines that keep the ship aloft. Someone asked me once if I designed it purposefully off of old “rotor ships”, which is pretty cool thematically itself. I was thinking about final fantasy, but pretty sure eventually those origins could be traced to that.
  4. The Personal Craft — these often look like planes or bicycles or motorcycles in the sky, and often bear the least explanation when we see them in use. From jetpacks to ornithopters, these are fun to explore.

And that’s what we see for the most part. Each in their own forms are fascinating and something interesting to look at, and write about. Now that you have your nice confirmation bias, look around and see the cool sense of wonder that different concepts of  air travel you see in different fantasy films and literature. They’re everywhere!

 

 

Welcome To #Steampunk Month!

June 2017 marks Steampunk month, in which I and several other folk around the internet intend to celebrate all things Steampunk! I’m starting this initiative because mid-month, I’ll be releasing my second novel, For Steam And Country, which is my first steampunk fantasy:

 

This book’s already getting some great buzz. The first professional review appeared in Steampunk Chronicle, in which it was hailed as “a solid adventure tale, much in the mold of Patrick O’Brian or other sea-story writers.”

Here’s the synopsis:

Her father’s been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira’s day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.

Cool stuff! Again it’ll be up on June 15th. I’ll have the amazon link for that when it’s available. So let’s get to Steampunk, as I’m sure I have several of my readers asking:

What Is Steampunk?

Steampunk is a sub-culture/genre in sci-fi/fantasy fandom. I call it both a sub-culture and a genre because it’s pretty unique in that it really developed from people cosplaying, rather than the other way around. It’s a Victorian-style fantasy, and can shift in its tone usually from a 1880s-1920s technology level and culture. A lot of the imagination is based on a “what if” question posed of steam engines, seeing them more in use in everyday contraptions. Gears and cranks are a heavy part of the themes. Alchemy is another element, representing some of the snake oil salesmen of the time, and the budding medical industry, but adding a fantasy/magical component to it as well. Airships and blimps litter steampunk scenery, and are some of the most compelling elements of the genre.

How Did Steampunk Begin? 

I’m not exactly certain of its direct origins and when it became labeled “Steampunk” (Yes, I know we can go back to Jules Verne or literary works in the 1970s that tried to homage it, as well as several Anime that had the industrialized fantasy themes, but those were more proto-Steampunk in my opinion. I’ll talk about those in a different blog!), but from what I witnessed, the concept swelled in the early 2010s with folk who attended renaissance fairs and wanted to add little pieces of flare to their garb — from goggles, to cool mechanical or gear based accessories, and getting into the more dystopian elements of the genre, gas masks and the like. What it did was make for AWESOME costuming. And it caught wildfire quickly. That’s how I came into touch with Steampunk. In 2011, I was at Dragon*Con, one of the biggest conventions in America (50,000+ people) and I saw a Steampunk Ball that had hundreds of people dressed in faux-early 1900s military garb, in beautiful dresses, all these cool prop gadgets attached to them. It was glorious to look at. I went out and spent far too much money on my own costume immediately.

Around that time we saw a small surge in a literary movement with the genre as well. The webcomic Girl Genius really inspired a lot of folk to love the genre, providing a really compelling tale that still runs to this day. Some cool authors came out of this Steampunk boom, but by 2013-2014 the cultural fad had sort of died down. You didn’t hear about Steampunk much in pop culture anymore, though there certainly were other publications that came about. Looking at the twitter accounts of popular Steampunk magazines/ideas, that peak in 2011-2013 was really where it was at. So what happened?

I have my thoughts on that, but I’ll save that for another blog. There still are steampunk gatherings and a LOT of people who follow steampunk to this day. I just attended my first Clockwork Alchemy last weekend, which was very fun, and am eyeing the Gaslight Expo later in the year, as i’ve always wanted to go to that. For #SteampunkMonth we have a chance to explore Steampunk themes in its full potential. My goal is to bring about a Steampunk Revival and get everyone celebrating these cool concepts again. Join me!

Tally ho!

Gorilla Mindset – It Really Works

This is more a reflection on the book Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich and what it’s done to me than a straight review of the book. I’ve applied it, and shown how it’s been applied. How you utilize it will be your story. But this book actually allows for that more than many others,which is why I think it’s valuable to discuss in that way.

I usually hate self-help motivation type of books. I find that the whole concept is trite and a little demeaning.  In October of last year, however, I picked up Mike Cernovich’s Gorilla Mindset, as I really enjoyed the content that he was providing on periscope and twitter, and wanted to support his independent investigative journalism in the wake of a lockstep fake news media that can’t seem to get its head out of its butt enough to notice anything about corruption in Big News, Big Entertainment, Big Media, or Big Tech.

Gorilla Mindset is a light book, don’t get me wrong here. It’s fast to read, it’s simple, almost deceptively so at first, but what you’ll find is Cernovich has a the right of his whole concept: mindset is reality. Now, 9 months after reading his book, I’ve held a lot of his little lessons with me and applied them whether consciously or subconsciously to get to where I am.

I used to be afraid to speak, afraid of what I’d write, afraid that people would reject or view my writings as something that wasn’t worth their time. You probably have felt this way yourself, and actually that’s part of a social trick that ends up being a form of gatekeeping that starts in your mind. Cernovich starts his book out with “to get more out of life, you must get more out of yourself. You must take personal responsibility for your thoughts and emotions. You must stop blaming the system. The days of looking outside yourself for answers are gone.”  It’s counterintuitive, because there are so many road blocks set up along the way to make an impossible barrier to entry for anyone in any field, but as cheesy as it sounds, it comes down to believing.

I wrote a post on Facebook the other day about how I used to take this fearful attitude toward guest posts and interviews. I was very cautious, and my answers and writing came across as wooden and stilted as a consequence. This translated to my early fiction works as I worried too much about impressing agents and editors – gatekeepers who can sniff out that lack of confidence in writing as sure as anyone can see it in a job interview. Overcoming that, believing in myself, setting myself up for success and believing I was going to be a success was everything.

Gorilla Mindset helped push me there. I don’t know what it was, I can hardly pinpoint the direct lines that motivated me, but I do know it came from this book, along with some helpful support along the way from some awesome sci-fi and fantasy authors in the field who showed me they cared. It triggered something inside of me that let me say: go out there and just be honest. That will resonate.  I had to tell myself that every day in the early days since coming out of the closet as a free speech warrior. Those tricks that Cernovich talks about in his book – talking to yourself in the mirror, tricking your mind into a new psychology, it’s very important, actually. It works 100%.

You do have a choice. You can say I’m aspiring at this or that, and believe you’re not as good as anyone else, believe that you don’t have value, be frustrated with the results. Or you can show up every day and say “hey, I have something valuable to say/do. People will respect that because they’ll respect my results.” There’s no difference in outcomes of events, no difference in what goes on around you, just a difference in what happens internally.  Use the tricks Cernovich teaches: never call yourself names, never assume there’s no bouncing back from strife. Minimize your defeats. Maximize your victories. Take pride in little things.

All of this is in the book. I especially appreciate the little morning mental exercises he offers to keep your mind fresh. I do these almost every morning and come at the day from a much sharper perspective than I used to – which is how I generate these blogs in the early morning.

Look, I’m not any more special than I was a year ago. I had books and stories written with very few people reading. This blog used to get 3-5 clicks per day, now it gets over a thousand.  My books are selling, I’m doing valuable journalism whistleblowing on bad practices in the entertainment industry, and great outlets like the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog and The Federalist take my columns. I’m about to release another hit book, For Steam and Country. Heck, Cernovich himself has even linked my work to his hundreds of thousands of followers, many of whom have come to me and told me how much they appreciated it.  It all began with mindset, sitting down and saying I’m gonna work and it’s gonna be good.

Be strong like the gorilla, like Harambe before he knew too much.

Gorilla Mindset is a quick read, and it’ll pay off down the line even more than it does immediately. Stick with it, it’ll be worth it for you.

It Gets Even Crazier: Baycon and File 770’s Recent Tantrums

Last weekend, while I was having the time of my life, having a politics-free time with some cool folk who enjoy books and genres that I do, fake science fiction news site File 770 had one of their contributors write a weird fan fiction poem about me. Apparently, this person took quite the exception to the fact that I market and promote myself in the wake of some people I don’t know on the internet doing everything in their power to tear me down and delegitimize me. Naturally, not knowing me and never having interacted with me, the person got many of the specifics about events wrong, but his overall message was one that was true enough: these folk can’t get me out of their heads to stop talking about me.

A poem from a random stranger on the internet is a bit creepy, and naturally as it’s meant to target me negatively, I had a bit of a harsh reaction to it at first, but upon reflection I applaud this person’s creativity. If they want to spend their time writing poems about me and hopefully reading my book to come to a good conclusion that I’m not a “real” author or whatnot, that’s great. More power to them.

But what struck me more was the comments that brought me back full circle on this intense journey of blogging and gaining readers regularly since Baycon’s leadership took last year’s election quite personally, opting to disinvite me from their science fiction convention in order to try to send some message that to them, politics is more important than science fiction book releases or even personal friendships.

For those new readers: Baycon took to File 770 to launch a smear campaign of me after that, lying and gaslighting about the topic, which I’ve already shown their true motives on this blog in the past. My public blog was a call to them was to drop the politics, posted after having it made very clear by someone in the know that they would refuse to even open my emails on the topic. My points on the matter were impersonal, and topical, yet was met with some of the most angry, vitriolic personal attacks I’ve ever received. That’s the level of hatred that was involved, and the level I went to try to make sure they cleared up this event so everyone could have a good time in science fiction like in the past.

Baycon, as we found out, not only ignored my warning, but doubled-down with a program slate riddled with angry, one-sided politics. There were other long-time guests who messaged me privately to let me know that they declined their standing invites because the politics had become too thick with this group, and praised me for speaking out on the matter– and yes, despite what they said on the topic, almost every author who puts out even the most unread, semi-relevant work in the last few years has standing invites and gets invited year-after-year. You’re now up to date on the topic if you’re a new reader.

Then it got crazier. One of the File 770 fanfic poem commenters wrote a 400-word rant about Baycon and their interactions with me, specifically on how great of a time that they were all having without me. This person immediately opened with some mild racism directed at your humble Hispanic author and journalist, stating that I don’t “pronounce my name in a Spanish way”. A white woman on the internet demanded that I’m supposed to roll the r’s in Del Arroz harder to make myself some Speedy Gonzalez caricature for her benefit. Someone followed up on mocking my name and heritage on the site, making for a really bizarre display of racism against Hispanics on File 770 that illuminates a lot about the SJW mentality. I incidentally get a lot of racism directed at me from SJWs who can’t handle that I fly in the face of their narrative, and never have once received such treatment from the boogeymen they claim are “problematic.” I reached out to Mike Glyer, the purveyor of the site, for comment, who stated, “Name humor is fundamentally not funny. Ethnic name humor is offensive.”  I agree wholeheartedly, and much thanks to Mr. Glyer for that.

The person continued to make all these presumptions about me that are false before going into the meat of her narrative: no one at Baycon knows who I am or even cares about me. This is where it gets pretty ironic, as then it launches into proof of that concept by mentioning how they were all spending their party evening (most conventions have parties after hours) talking smack about me.  I’m glad that while I was enjoying myself elsewhere with a group of people who legitimately didn’t know me, that these folk of which I am well familiar with a large number, including some who attended/guested who are still very much my friends, had a good time getting angry at me and mocking me where they safely couldn’t get called out on it.

They went further. A long-time attendee made ribbons – actually spent good hard earned money – to take a line from my original blog on the topic and mock me. For those not familiar with conventions, a custom in recent years has been for folk to attach ribbons to their badges, usually something silly or fun, or in promotion of something. They’re not that cheap to make, so it takes some dedication to want to do it (for those at cons in the near future that I’m attending, come find me to get your Grand Rislandian Army ribbons!). I’d heard about this before, and assumed it was a joke that they wouldn’t remember come convention time. Con-chairman Christopher Castro even chimed in on a Facebook thread to express his pleasure at his attendees mocking me in this manner back when the original word of my blackball from speaking hit. I reached out to him for comment, but he blocked me rather than reply. Word is that they gave out around 200 of these at the convention, $50-75 worth of printing costs and several hours of time dedicated to thinking about me.

Yet… no one knew who I was, according to this poster, including the poster herself who had quite a few details they apparently knew about me. The poster has since followed up to state that someone who called me a “cupcake” was responsible for this information — of whom I understand from use of that term to be Baycon programming director, Susie Rodriguez, the person directly responsible for my removal from speaking and the smear campaign. Nice source. The post then goes on to explain how their guest of honor, one of the writing duo known as James SA Corey, of The Expanse fame, had a look of disgust on his face when I was mentioned (I’ve never met or interacted with them, have no beef with them either. I’ve also reached out to them for comments on this topic as I hope to clear any ill-will up as a misunderstanding. From what I hear, they’re good guys and hard workers.) You see the cognitive dissonance that they have to form in order to make these arguments, which is what happens every time in these instances where SJWs get caught with their absurd behavior, and occurred from day one when the Baycon folk went into scramble mode to try to minimize the damage of being called out on their organization’s political problems.

Those comments went on, and they vary in nastiness as they always do when my name is evoked over there. It’s the same 5-10 people saying over and over how horrible I am or how much I don’t matter. The poem’s right in one regard– they sure spend a lot of time talking about me for how much I don’t matter. Something I said resonates to their core, and the reason, despite the cognitive dissonance, is the fact that these folk have spent decades preaching phony tolerance and diversity to a point where it became a witch hunt to find anyone who’s “not tolerant and diverse.” Those words lost their meaning, and became code for “we don’t like vocal Christians” a long time ago, and has in the last year or so added “we don’t like nationalists” to that. Now they’ve got someone willing to speak against their falsehoods, who not only proves there’s no tolerance or diversity desired with this crowd, but does so from a minority perspective who’s supposed to be leading a charge with them. It’s more than me, it’s what I represent as an anti-narrative to them. The narrative is their religion, and without it, they’re lost, as they’ve used that to fill that God-sized hole in their lives.

But there’s good news with this as well. Their tyranny over Baycon is over. New leadership was announced for the convention for 2018, leadership that I very much approve of. They’re of the same political persuasions, this is the San Francisco Bay Area after all, but they’re not the self-destruct-nuke-at-all-costs SJW types that handled the 2017 events. I expect to see some big changes next year, and hopefully the politics can be dropped from this sci-fi convention and it can get back to fun, as it’s the only thing I’ve asked since day one. I’ll of course be on top of watching this and making sure that pertinent sci-fi fandom news is brought to your attention.

Quick shout out my MANY friends from the guest list Baycon who stuck through me through the lambasting, through the attempts to smear my character through the last year. It was certainly rough with the mass of lies and vitriol flung at me, but I appreciate you being there, even if we don’t talk all that much. I won’t name your names for your own safety, but you know who you are. I love you very much and appreciate your support.

Bre Faucheux Interviews Jon Del Arroz – Wednesday May 31st!

I’m super excited to be talking with Bre. She’s got a really cool series of Fantasy novellas called Violet Blake, and she’s one of my favorite youtubers. I’m slightly offended that I didn’t get to be on “Champagne Thursday,” as I’m sure I’d about 3x as fun an interview with champagne, but what can you do. Maybe next time 😉

Here’s the link for tomorrow:

 

#Steampunk Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Round-Up

Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA marked the first time I’d attended a convention wholly dedicated to steampunk – and it was a lot of fun! The crowd had about the highest percentage of people in cosplay I’ve seen, all in elegantly designed Victorian or Steampunk attire, and many I talked to are regular participants in the local ren faire or Dickens Fair – a really cool event around Christmas time that takes the theme of A Christmas Carol and extrapolates a whole convention center with prop-storefronts and everything. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this convention, but I was quite pleased to find on a search of their programming before the event that all of their content was themed, and most importantly there was NO POLITICS.  How refreshing! My wife and I decided to get a babysitter for the kids for a Saturday – Sunday morning jaunt to the con. I only wish we had more time!

The first thing we did was hit the dealer room, which was small but packed with cool themed craftsmen. I needed a new hat since losing my tophat for my steampunk attire a couple of years back, and I found a wonderful hat that the guy who designed it put a ton of work into. It’s gorgeous. Found some cool things for my wife as well like a teacup holster. And we met a craftsman who made a metal pendant version of my Grand Rislandian Army insignia – which readers of this blog will have a chance to win closer to release.

After that we looked into the programming. I’m no crafting person myself, but they had a ton of how-to-make-it-yourself content, of which would be of interest to a lot of people (cool costuming can get expensive!). They also had a “war room” where it was a big open room with live self-defense and weaponry demonstrations. I didn’t participate but I did watch and it was in depth and really cool. Next time that’s something I want to try when I’m not wearing a big heavy leather themed costume.

They also had a tent, outside which they had morning to evening dance and music performances. Really cool! I live streamed a little sample of that on Periscope on Saturday.

Beside that was the highlight of the entire convention, which I wouldn’t have thought at first, but my wife was pretty excited about – the tea room. They have a real brewer who made her own loose leaf blends, and set things up properly with china and the like, while people in themed costume serve you. It may sound a little silly or mundane but the atmosphere there was very themed and so wonderful that I was impressed – not to mention the tea blends they had were incredibly flavorful. It was free as well. Needless to say, the room was packed the whole time with a long wait, but it was well worth it.

We also visited the evening concert on Saturday night and played a cool board game Dicenstein in the gaming room with some nice folk. That ended up with a fun chat in the hotel bar with some folk we met through the online literary world.

Sunday, I travelled through author’s alley and talked to a lot of cool people including Harry Turtledove, the master of alt-history writing himself. I also met a great guy named Steve DeWinter who has a “Steampunk Oz” series that looks really cool, and M. Holly-Rosing, who wrote the comic for the Boston Metaphysical Society, which I’d seen online before. Was really cool to meet these folk! All in all it was an incredibly pleasant experience and I wish I could have spent another day there, as I know I missed the cool steampunk fashion show and ball on Sunday evening that looked like they would have been perhaps the most fun events of the convention.

And then the best part were the cool like-minded people. It was fun to chat steampunk with so many and share my bookmarks for my forthcoming release, which was very well received by all. My wife and I look forward to participating next year and hopefully we can contribute a little more with the release of For Steam And Country and perhaps a sequel if I can manage it in time for their event.

One more thing: I told a lot of people at the convention, but starting June 1, I’m going to be running #SteampunkMonth on the blog here, in which I’ll try to post some steampunk content every day through the month of June. I want everyone to join me in this and bring about a Steampunk revival on social media. Don’t be shy, join in the fun!

Tally ho!