Steampunk girl

Battle of the Sexes: How Steampunk Should Be Informed by Feminism

During the reign of Victoria, the women’s suffrage movement began and, shortly after her death, culminated in women receiving the same legal right to vote as men. It was a landmark period in history for thinking about gender equity. Informed by such works as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, written by Mary Wollstonecraft almost a half century prior to the Victorian era, it spawned such well-known feminist thinkers as John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and Florence Fenwick Miller. In spite of the oppressive atmosphere created by a focus on eradicating “vice” via the Comstock Laws and other means, as well as the caricature of women as weak and feeble-minded by many scientists of the day, women were making strides toward being recognized as equal to men and having autonomy.

This is the historical background which inspires much of steampunk fiction and we should take its lessons to heart when building our steampunk community. Continue reading “Battle of the Sexes: How Steampunk Should Be Informed by Feminism”

Steampunk

In Defense of the Lighter Side of Steampunk

I am glad that the Great Steampunk Debate is coming to a close.

Don’t get me wrong — I loved participating in and helping moderate it for the past two months. It has challenged my opinions about the genre, aesthetic, fandom, subculture; made me think long and hard about why people perceive it in such different ways; and occasionally frustrated me.

The opportunity to get a better hold on the opinions of steampunk enthusiasts everywhere was valuable, but it’s time for a break from all the arguments. Most of them will never be resolved anyway; the community is too diverse a group, geographically, politically and otherwise to ever fully agree on the serious sides of steampunk. Continue reading “In Defense of the Lighter Side of Steampunk”

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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”

The Dream of Perpetual Motion

The Dream of Perpetual Motion
The Dream of Perpetual Motion

Of all the steampunk novels I have read, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is the strangest and most bizarre. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this: “Shakespeare’s The Tempest written in a steampunk world while Shakespeare was on a bad trip.”

Dexter Palmer draws heavily on The Tempest in his novel. The original features on several occasions and we meet strange versions of Prospero, Miranda, Caliban and Ferdinand. They are all protagonists in The Dream of Perpetual Motion to varying degrees of importance. Continue reading “The Dream of Perpetual Motion”