So, I have this admission to make. I don’t get Steampunk. I have nothing particularly against it, and I don’t believe I’ve gone out of my way to avoid it. It’s simply that the aesthetic, the approach to science and story, do nothing to attract me.
And yet, it seems to be very popular. Certainly as a literary sub-genre it seems to have been holding its own for a few years now and it’s cropped up in various guises in the movies (although given its obvious visual fascination it’s a wonder there’s not been more). And of course it’s biggest impact has been in alternative fashion and lifestyle circles. All well and good, but none of it twigs me in any way whatsoever.
Maybe its because I grew up with an ingrained respect of the works of the enlightenment (the Scottish one) and the amazing real technological advances that stemmed from it. Maybe its because I find it difficult to vaseline-lens the social iniquities of the Victorian era. And fantasying up/down either of those would have the nagging voice in my head going “but, but, but!” For a similar reason, I don’t really dig re-use of historical personages either.
Or perhaps it’s those visuals – which for me, although they can be very well done and hugely admirable amounts of work can go into them, especially in the hobbyist sphere – always make me think of set dressing from the Flash Gordon serial, or George Pal’s version of The Time Machine, or something really hokey with the great Doug McClure in it and rubber dinosaurs.
Am I being too harsh? Perhaps, subconsciously, even intentionally standoffish (because I never like what all the kids like)? Anyone want to take a pop at turning me? Show me what I’m missing?
Here’s the deal. Make a steampunk novel sound hot enough to me and I’ll buy it and read it.