Saturday, July 30, 2011

SteamPunk - What Defines a Genre?

One of the stories that I'm working on - researching, right now - is a steampunk legend called Golem.

But what makes it steampunk?

Set in Victorian times? It's set in 1905, but in Odessa, Russia, not part of the British Empire.

New-fangled Tech? Yes, the MMC is a jeweler and he makes little clockwork insects. It's also in the Industrial Revolution.

Magic? Heck yeah. I'm researching Kaballah magic as part of this.

But a friend and I were discussing this in chat this afternoon and that doesn't really address the "punk" in steampunk.

The jist of our discussion was that steampunk isn't purely escapist - it may not be all dark, but there's a dark side to it. The RDJr. Sherlock Holmes showed the gritty bits of London, for example. And there are classes and class tensions in steampunk, unlike, say... Regency Romance (my friend's example).

Steampunk does not really pretend to be literature, but it's more than escapist fantasy. It addresses social issues, or the best tend to. Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series deals with very disparate creatures living together in civility and how hard that is. Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke deals with winning freedom from oppression and how, even whe they're free, it's not easy. There are still consequences.

All of this is making me want to work on that steampunk story set in Odessa, before the Soviet revolution. But first, I need to get this other story ready for my betas.

What steampunk have you read? How would you define the steampunk genre?

Photo: A Steampunk Pendant by Vaughn & Sean Saball Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license/by Vaughn & Sean Saball

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I've read any, but there is this mini-series on Hulu called Riese: Kingdom Falling. Not really well done, in my non-expert opinion, but its steampunk.