Changing My Mind About Victorientalism

This website, then known as The Gatehouse, gained some notoriety in 2010, when we dedicated an issue of our webzine, the Gatehouse Gazette, to “Victorientalism”.

I subsequently defended this choice in a blog post that now strikes me as insensitive and in some places wrong.

My assumption — that it is safe to recreate stereotypes from colonial times because those stereotypes, and the power imbalances they sustained, have gone — was flawed. I have learned that such stereotypes and power imbalances are in some cases still with us and in others have a lingering effect. I should have listened to the people (of color) who tried to tell me that eight years ago.

Continue reading “Changing My Mind About Victorientalism”

Alternate History versus Steampunk Fantasy

Alternate-history steampunk is set in a historically-based world (usually Victorian London). The technology or historical events have for some reason veered from the real timeline. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (1990), considered the first work of steampunk, is an example of this. It assumes the creation of an analog computer in the 1800s.

Other examples include Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker (2009) and Mark Hodder’s The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack (2010). While not necessarily historically accurate, these books incorporate real history, places and figures.

Continue reading “Alternate History versus Steampunk Fantasy”

How Dystopias Influenced Dieselpunk

The dystopia is a familiar trope in the “Piecraftian”, darker side of dieselpunk.

Erika Gottlieb argues in Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial (2001) that dystopian fiction looks at the totalitarian dictatorships of the dieselpunk era as its prototype: “a society that puts its whole population continuously on trial, a society that finds its essence in concentration camps, that is, in disenfranchising and enslaving entire classes of its own citizens, a society that, by glorifying and justifying violence by law, preys upon itself.”

Continue reading “How Dystopias Influenced Dieselpunk”

Adversity and the Human Spirit

Referred to as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veteran’s Day, November 11 has a special meaning for dieselpunks. The “diesel era” (1920s-40s) arose out a meaningless war (World War I), saw one of the epic wars of history (World War II) and died a slow death in another meaningless war (Korean War). One could say that dieselpunk is born in blood, lives in blood and dies in blood.

Continue reading “Adversity and the Human Spirit”

Larry Amyett Mixes Dieselpunk Flavors

Our friend Larry Amyett has a great article in the latest edition of SteamPunk Magazine about the different flavors of dieselpunk. He argues that the term “flavors” gets it exactly right: “Just as a recipe includes a variety of flavors from many ingredients,” he writes, “most dieselpunks mix the different flavors to suit their personal tastes.”

Continue reading “Larry Amyett Mixes Dieselpunk Flavors”

An Introduction to Steampunk

With steampunk being hailed as the next big thing in several media (again), it seems like a good moment for a post like this, to give some information to people interested in the movement but not yet part of it.

Steampunk is a subculture that has skirted on the edges of mainstream for years, sometimes in the media as the current hype, sometimes as a fringe movement, always present in literature, cinema, fashion, lifestyle, board-, video- and role-playing games.

Defining steampunk is probably the hardest part of the movement due to its immense diversity. You may find that in a group of just a handful of steampunks, opinions on what exactly steampunk is differ, sometimes radically. This is to be expected from a subculture with very little in the way of rules. Even those are more like guidelines anyway.

Nevertheless, steampunks tend to get along smashingly. So instead of giving my opinion, I will tell you the things, the basics if you will, that most of us agree on.

Continue reading “An Introduction to Steampunk”