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.
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”
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”
Android Karenina by Ben Winters is a steampunk take on Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel and, indeed, the plot resembles the original to a great degree, with all familiar protagonists present.
They are incarnated in a way befitting a steampunk setting, though. Android Karenina is set against a high-tech steampunk background, placed in a pseudo-nineteenth-century Russia. Continue reading “Android Karenina”
There is a gaggle of different people to be found within steampunk culture. Everyone has their own opinion about what it means to be a member of the steampunk community. Trying to find a specific mindset that unifies steampunk as a subculture can be a difficult undertaking therefore. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Ideology of Steampunk”
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”
I think I look at steampunk differently from most folks I run into.
To me, it’s a fandom. I am a member of steampunk fandom. When I mention this to people, especially folks who have never been a part of other fandoms, they tend to deny it. Continue reading “The Steampunk Fandom”
I admit shaking my head whenever I read the work of a reporter proclaiming the “death of steampunk,” thinking that someone has negligently ignored his or her bosses’ deadline and found themselves scrambling for topic.
Quite to the contrary, steampunk appears to have been enjoying a slow but steady climb in popularity throughout the past half decade or so, for many reasons. Continue reading “A Steampunk Party”
As steampunk becomes more recognized, moving further into the mainstream, questions have arisen concerning the nature of the genre and, pertinently in these politically tense times, its political persuasion, if any. Continue reading “Steampunk: An Utopian Expression?”