Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe artwork

The Steampunk Political Guillotine Machine

It was Sunday morning and the first thing I read on Facebook was a call from someone in the steampunk community demanding that another person be “unfriended” by all of her followers. Along with this, she posted a screencap of a meme this terrible person had posted which said, “Share if you also want to see Hillary Clinton in jail.” It had the former secretary of state’s face photoshopped behind bars.

For one anti-Clinton meme, this steampunk woman demanded the deplatforming of someone I didn’t even known before this incident. One wrong meme in some circles and you’re out.

By that logic, I should have been “canceled” a long time ago. I’ve disliked Hillary Clinton since the early 1990s. But social media has made it much easier to scout out thoughtcrimes. Don’t belong to the right political party? Don’t hate politicians from the other side? Someone will screencap something you wrote, share it on their own page and demand that you be shunned.

We’ve crossed into a weird McCarthyism — Jenny McCarthyism — where if you’re not liberal enough you’ll be chased out of whatever fandom you’re in.

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Summer Geek Festival Mons Belgium

Steampunk at Summer Geek Festival

Summer Geek Festival is a small, and with its second edition also relatively new, convention in Mons, Belgium.

It’s not a steampunk event, but it is so incredibly diverse that it does a really good job catering to the whole of the pop culture spectrum, from cosplay and geek stuff to Japanese fashion and music to steampunk — and pretty much everything else. Here are some steampunk photos for you to enjoy.

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Smoke and Steam

Smoke and Steam

People with wings, freedom fighters, engineers, (mad) scientists and more — these are the characters that make up the pages of Smoke and Steam.

The anthology is comprised of four short stories by four different authors, respectively, “Wings Over Staria” by J.C. Rock, “Hekatite” by Karen Garvin, “Heart of the Matter” by Michelle Schad and “Freedom for a Foster” by Cathryn Leigh.

This does mean you get four completely different tales and writing styles, meaning there’s a chance you won’t like every story as much as the next.

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Sebastien Hue artwork

Can You Be Right-Wing and Steampunk?

To keep up with all the responses to my “Who Killed Steampunk?” story, I’ve spent more time than usual reading Never WasTwitter feed in the last couple of months. I follow almost everybody Twitter recommends to me, as long as they look or sound relevant to steam- or dieselpunk, and I follow back almost everybody who follows Never Was. So I made no effort to tailor this feed politically.

What I get is half steam- and dieselpunk and half left-wing politics. I don’t see any tweets that suggest they’re from a person who is center-right.

This isn’t new. I asked eight years ago where the steampunk Republicans were. Nor am I the only one who worries steampunk has become an echo chamber. Others who have written on this topic include Professor Elemental and Moriarty Viccar, both of whom are left-wing.

I can think of three possible explanations:

  1. Twitter is left-wing.
  2. Steampunk is left-wing.
  3. Right-of-center steampunks don’t tweet about politics.
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Jakub Rozalski artwork

The Gatekeeper’s Scythe

More than two years ago, I caused controversy with the rant “Requiem for Steampunk” in which I outlined what had gone wrong the genre. I wrote in declarative statements that what we call “steampunk” isn’t steampunk anymore by bookending the article with these two paragraphs:

Since it has lost the anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment aspects, “steampunk” is no longer steam “punk.” It’s something else now and I’m not sure what to call it… So either steampunk is dead, it’s dying, or it was never what it should have been and what is now called “steampunk” is a bastardization.

And:

If steampunk — and for that matter, dieselpunk, decopunk and so on — isn’t about flipping society right-side up with a splash of non-conformity and anarchy against the ruling class, we should find another suffix besides ‘punk.

Sandwiched between those statements was the thesis of my argument and how I came to my conclusion that steampunk was in a lot of trouble as a “social movement”.

I have continued to write and talk about the topic, including in a review for The Steampunk Journal and in an appearance on “Radio Retrofuture” with Bonsart Bokel.

So have others. Nick Ottens’ recent “Who Killed Steampunk?” is the latest entry in this debate.

I have come to the conclusion that if only I had written “Gatekeepers Are Killing Steampunk” and made that the title of my rant, I would not have caused so much controversy. I could still have heaped much of the blame for what’s killing steampunk on the people who are trying to control it and make it their own and I wouldn’t be the villain and scoundrel that I am accused of being today. (Although, let’s face it, I actually enjoy the “scoundrel” part.)

I suspect that a more mundane title would have also spared Nick much of the heat he has taken for his article.

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Writing Steampunk

Gail B. Williams

I’m not often moved to write articles, usually it’s fiction for me. But I was intrigued by the two “Who Killed Steampunk?” articles here and surprised by some of the responses. All genres have their ups and downs, and I’m hoping any steampunk downturn will soon turn around. Again, like the original article, I am restricting this to written steampunk only.

Nick’s articles made me think. They made me wonder what was my unwritten agenda? When I started writing the Shades of Aether series, I just wanted to write a light-hearted adventure (under my other author name I write dark gritty crime and I needed a break from that). The books started as an adventure and forbidden love story, but grew into something more. While I created that, I didn’t analyze or worry over it. It just came about organically.

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