Is Steampunk Dead?

I hear this question: Is steampunk dead? (Actually, I hear, “Is it dead yet? Now is it dead yet? How about now?)

I’m going to set aside the issue of whether I like steampunk or not.

I think ~punk will continue to evolve. Other ~punks, like dieselpunk, are shoving their way onto the scene; whether they shove actual steampunk off the stage has yet to be seen and isn’t really important for what I have to say, which, incidentally, includes some not-very-nice things.

  1. Alternate-history fiction is for history buffs. I am not a history buff and find it, generally, annoying. O HAI DETAIL ABOUT LINCOLN WUZ SO CUTE LOLZ!11! WHAT IF THAT DETAIL WERE CHANGED??!!!???!!??!!??? AND EVERYTHING ELSE WUZ ACCURATE!!!1111!!! SQUEEEEEEEE!!!
  2. Steampunk, which started out as fairly nuts and definitely punk, is settling down into a fashion accessory. See Etsy.
  3. The good thing about Steampunk is that it opens the door to grossly inaccurate alternate histories, in which minute, mind-numbing accuracy but for One Vital Point is no longer a requirement. That door opens not just on the Steampunk era but all settings, including fictional ones.
  4. In through this door, for better or worse, came things like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.
  5. And so, while people argue about steampunk, what I would rather see is a celebration of a ~punked alternate history genre. Every movement needs a term, and I think Steampunk is bigger than Steampunk, so I’m going to invent that term now: ¬†history punk.

Steampunk might die out, but hardier I think is the idea that you can screw around with history in ways that are more complex than “What if Hitler won WWII?!!?????”¬†¬†History is full of stories, and when you’re a punk, you break the stories and make really loud WRONG noises with them.

I hope history punk becomes popular; I’ve been wanting an excuse to finish my story about the post-WWII Nazis invading Iowa with gremlin-run mechs, only to be defeated by Nancy Drew and a quadriplegic version of Val Kilmer.

You may insult my lack of ability to love alternate history….now!

5 comments

  1. Ian says:

    Allie and I are working on an alternate history novel together with two premises that changed the world: the process to refine petroleum into kerosene was never discovered until 1939, and the first atom was split in 1899 instead of 1919. We’ve built our world based upon those premises. It’s been a fun project so far, but not really what I’d consider ~punk.

  2. Allie D. says:

    Well that’s news to me since I thought we were billing this as steampunk. lol Though I guess in reality it’s not traditional steampunk because it’s not in the traditional steampunk era and it has other non-sp elements.

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