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The Great Steampunk Debate

Several months after, after the eleventh issue of this magazine, dedicated to “Victorientalism”, sparked fierce debate in the steampunk community about the genre’s complicated relationship with colonialism and race, the owners and editors of some of the community’s most prominent blogs and publications gathered to explore the possibility of organizing a “Great Steampunk Debate”, where, for a limited time, steampunk enthusiasts could come together and discuss the political side of the movement.

The debate would entail the whole of the spectrum of steampunk and ideology, with discussions ranging from the roles of class and gender in the genre to topics about the influence of anarchism and the significance of steampunk’s maker culture. Continue reading “The Great Steampunk Debate”

Steampunk girl goggles

Steampunkness: A New State of Open Mind

Steampunk has come a long way in recent years. No longer an obscure subgenre of speculative fiction, steampunk today encompasses besides literature and film, design, fashion and a community that spans worldwide. Although firmly rooted in British Victorianism, steampunk enthusiasts hail from all nations with fascinating variations on the theme being explored in France, Japan and the United States especially.

As the steampunk movement continues to grow, it is only inevitable that the many people involved in it try to shape it to their personal liking. There is no harm in that. Steampunk is a versatile concept that can adapt to different times, different places, different philosophies even. New interpretations of steampunk should always be welcomed as refreshing in the first place before we attempt to dissect or, eventually, discard of them. Continue reading “Steampunkness: A New State of Open Mind”

Arabian Nights painting

In Defense of Victorientalism

Reactions to the Victoriental issue of the Gatehouse Gazette (March 2010) have been pretty fierce. The opinions of those provoked by it may best be summarized by Ay-leen, who noted that using the phrase “Victorientalism” to imply a “positive, transcultural blend” of cultures is “misguided.”

Others have been less nuanced in their renunciations of what they assume to be our position. Continue reading “In Defense of Victorientalism”

Institute of Radio Engineers banquet

Steampunk Politics Anno 2010

As a genre, steampunk was hardly political. Cyberpunk, in its reverence of alienated hackers and all sorts of outcasts, might carry some political weight, but the very term “steampunk” was coined as a joke (by author K.W. Jeter in 1987) and never meant to describe the sort of movement we know today.

Because of its newly-acquired subculture status, steampunk has made bold fashion and design statements, but it struggles to find an ideology. While some recognize anarchist potential in putting the “punk” back in steampunk, others emphasize that steampunk is inherently apolitical. Others yet seek a middle way by interpreting the “punk” as a broad rejection of modern-day consumerism and the loss of individualism associated with twenty-first-century industrial society. Continue reading “Steampunk Politics Anno 2010”