Topic: Locking the genre, blocking development?

In an attempt to describe "steampunk", or "dieselpunk", as in other threads and on other fora, the definition draws closer and closer. Steampunk is this and about that and so on, drawing a line between "real" steampunk and other genres.

But doesn´t this fine definition limit the amount of imagination an autor can have when writing "steampunk"? Is the debate about what is steampunk not a fantasy-killer? Can you have low life and high tech and still write steampunk, even when it is set in Mozarts time?

Just call me Jack

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

When describing the characteristics of "Steampunk", one is naturally confined to describe general trends, i.e. the characteristics of the majority of works labeled "steampunk".  Of course there can be exceptions to the rule.  Fiction can be set in an era other than the Victorian;  feature working class protagonists and even limited technology and still be steampunk!  Of course it depends on how the work is perceived by readers and commentators--if they feel it's steampunk, then it is.  But to define the genre, we are forced to focus on the mainstream of steampunk fiction and that may indeed mean excluding some works of fiction which are still very much steampunk.

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

This is why I've always abstained from such debate. To define is to limit, and as far as I'm concerned, there are plenty of ways to interpret and reinvent our conceptions of what steampunk is. I say fans of the genre should stop trying to define it and start trying to enjoy all of it.

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

There's some website called "Steampunk Magazine" which has loads of highbrow intellectual ramblings and the "meaning" of people's models etc. I always thought punk was a working class movement, well i'm working class and didnt understand a word of thier tripe

Also "Steampunk" began as a joke, to describe "retro sci-fi" stories which where beginning to become popular while cyberpunk was at it's height. If they had started in the late 70's when the "Space Opera" star wars was at it's height it might well have ended up being called "Steam Opera" or something. But that would then clash with those big steam-powered animated music box things that show up at byegones shows

Removed double post. --Ottens

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

Steampunk Magazines seems to have a preference from slightly incomprehensible language indeed.  In spite of my liking for Victorian Era prose, even I find it hard to decipher the precise meanings of some of the writings in their publications!  wink

I think "Steam Opera" would have produced even greater confusion about the genre than the name "Steampunk" already does.  Rather than being associated with Punk, we might be considered a bunch of opera-going socialites who delight in dressing in Victorian Era fashion and speak in 19th century eloquence.

...

Well, maybe "Steam Opera" would be appropriate after all. tongue

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

Steam Opera is suited for www.leuvenhook.de which has space ships in steampunk style and is more or less a space opera. Well, there is supposed to be an opera in space (I once started the libretto...)

Good. I don't like people telling others "this is steampunk and that is not!". Especially not when they exclude the first real steampunk stories as such, as The Difference Engine or Mozart in Mirrorshades.

I guess the genre will be dying soon as it does not expand to other hooks in stories.

Just call me Jack

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

Presuming the genre will be dying because of attempts to try and describe what that genre precisely entails seems a bit premature to me.  Steampunk still isnt as widely accepted a genre like fantasy or science fiction in general, and so we need to define it, in order to make clear to people unfamiliar with steampunk what steampunk is.

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

No, that was not the idea. What I ment to say is that if the genre has very strict limits, and each steampunk autor stays within these limits, all stories turn out the be the same in the end (as is a problem in modern epic/heroic fantasy).
Fiction as steampunk grows and stays fashionable if there is enough room for development of the genre, of telling different stories than those that form the examples of the genre.

Just call me Jack

Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

Yaghish wrote:

No, that was not the idea. What I ment to say is that if the genre has very strict limits, and each steampunk autor stays within these limits, all stories turn out the be the same in the end (as is a problem in modern epic/heroic fantasy).

Agreed. How many shameless LOTR ripoffs can continue to be written?

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Re: Locking the genre, blocking development?

I see your point.  Too strict boundaries of what is steampunk may discourage originality and new ideas.  I still think at least some definition is required, though, and aren't all definitions of genres descriptive for the majority of that genre's works of fiction?  There can always be exceptions--indeed, they are more than welcome, for it is in works of fiction that differentiate from the norm that new ideas are born.  Indeed, that is how steampunk originated in the first place!