Three Cheers for International Steampunk

It has been a while since I contributed to this blog, a shame, really. I have been occupied elsewhere and there is this annoying thing called the day job.

What has occupied most of my leisure time is the planning of the European Steampunk Convention. Which brings me to today’s topic. When I started planning I had thought we would get steampunks from the usual places. You know, the countries who have been part of the European Community longer than all the others. France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, you get the idea.

What I did not expect was the feedback from Croatia, Russia, Belarus, Scandinavia, Slovenia. What I expected even less was people from Mexico and Argentina showing an interest in this.

I have since looked into how the scene manifests from Terra de Fuego to Trondheim and from Mexico City to Moscow.

The only thing I can say: The next person who tries to nail down what the steampunk scene is all about will be forced to wear a hollowed out, six-day-old watermelon over the head for a day.

The more you look around, the more you see there is a lot of difference from country to country, region to region, sometimes even city to city. Continue reading “Three Cheers for International Steampunk”

Steampunk Means Different Things in Different Places

In a discussion about the punk in steampunk at The Steampunk Forum, Vagabond GentleMan from the United States raises an interesting point: steampunk can have different meanings depending on one’s location.

Vagabond GentleMan suggests that steampunk isn’t a genuine sub- or counterculture because, unlike earlier countercultures, it isn’t just scattered but divided geographically.

When a New York hippie in the 1960s traveled to San Francisco, he “pretty much found that the West Coast hippies had the same basic sociocultural mores and the same basic ethos” that he had, according to Vagabond. When punks from Los Angeles traveled to Baltimore, “they found that though there might be some superficial differences in self-presentation or philosophy, they knew the Eastern punks were gonna ‘be about’ the same sorts of things.” Same thing with Goths.

Not with steampunks.

Continue reading “Steampunk Means Different Things in Different Places”

Half Full, Half Empty: Russian Dieselpunk

Did you know that only one year ago the most populous dieselpunk community on the Web was the Russian one — about one thousand members? It was also among the oldest, established in 2006.

No surprise: starting conditions for the genre were extremely favorable. It was defined relatively early, in an article by Mikhail Popov published in SF & Fantasy World monthly in December 2004. Actually, this article helped to promote dieselpunk in the same way as a well-known publication in DarkRoastedBlend did four years later. So when in the English-speaking world dieselpunk’s right to exist was questioned and disputed, in the Russian-speaking networks it was legitimate and widely acceptable. Different communities, from weapon geeks to noir freaks, adopted it to label weird devices, retrofuturist art, megalomaniac projects, rare war machines, etc.

Continue reading “Half Full, Half Empty: Russian Dieselpunk”

Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon

Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon

When one says that Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon is set in an alternate history Japan where the Taisho era (1912-26) has continued on into the 1930s, one might expect this alternate history setting to play heavily into the plot of the game. “How would Japan be different if the Taisho era had not given way to the strong militarism of the 1930s that foreshadowed Japan’s involvement in World War II?”

For better or worse, this is not the case. The story is, instead, highly reminiscent of detective novels of that era, such as the Kindaichi series written by Seishi Yokomizo, but with the addition of the standard theme of all Shin Megami Tensei games: demons, devils, and dark magic.

Continue reading “Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon”