Thursday, May 8, 2008

Steampunk is fashionable. Who knew?
(We did.)

Great piece in today's NYT about the steampunk culture (not just the writing subgenre). Some great mentions of the writing genre that started it all, however.
Devotees of the culture read Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, as well as more recent speculative fiction by William Gibson, James P. Blaylock and Paul Di Filippo, the author of “The Steampunk Trilogy,” the historical science fiction novellas that lent the culture its name. They watch films like “The City of Lost Children” (with costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier), “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Brazil,” Terry Gilliam’s dystopian fantasy satirizing the modern industrial age; and they listen to melodeons and Gypsy strings mixed with industrial goth.
More here.


Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

At the risk of being annoying, here's a link to a related recent blog post of mine.

Know yer punks. A primer.

Loquacious Me said...

Seems like everyone I know (including me) is writing a steampunk piece. It's hot at the moment!

Dr. Dume said...

Oh, why do we have to have more genres? I can't keep up!

Now I'll have to look up another one.

Nice to know 'Brazil' is back though. I love that film.

clara said...

Thanks for this post. I bought WHITECHAPEL GODS based on your earlier recommendation, and loved it. I just bought Jay Lake's MAINSPRING as well because now I can't get enough.

Even that sequence at the end of BACK TO THE FUTURE III (with the train) brings tears to my eyes.

I can not write my own steampunk adventure quickly enough. I mean, who doesn't love airships?

You are at the top of my list of agents to query when I'm done.

Karen Duvall said...

I'm still a bit hazy on this genre. But I love some of the books and authors mentioned. So is it alternate universe with an old tech/new tech blend? LOEG was fabulous that way. But how about The Wild Wild West, both the movie and the tv series? Does it fall in that genre as well?

Anonymous said...

@karen: The Wild Wild West rides the line dividing Steampunk and Weird West.

Steampunk is generally set in a Victorian culture (or some period not too much earlier than the Victorian), and is based on the idea that the world has, rather than developing digital technologies, developed manual technologies revolving around steam power--not even good old carbon-based fuels.

There are many variations on this theme, including earlier or later periods (insomuch as there is space for later periods; I believe the only thing that meets this standard is Dieselpunk) but they are often viewed as under the umbrella of Steampunk. Also of note in Steampunk works is the prevalence of airship technology as a primary mode of travel. And let me tell you: Airships--they are awesome.

To get a good grip on Steampunk, I'd suggest running the following terms through Wikipedia: Steampunk, Abney Park, Airship, Last Exile, and The Golden Compass (also known as Northern Lights in less American parts of the world).

Anonymous said...

I have to say the best steampunk I ever read was Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines trilogy.

But I don't think most people know the books fit that genre--to them it's just YA sci-fi.
Anyways, they are amazing. Please read them if you haven't!

Heather said...


[...]Colleen Lindsay’s The Swivet (“Steampunk is fashionable. Who knew? (We did.)”...picked up the NY Times article[...]

Karen Duvall said...

Love, love, love this subgenre, especially when combined with urban fantasy, which I'm doing now. I snagged the interest of a mystery editor at St. Martin's with just the first few pages. It's the perfect up and comer, IMO.