Is it really useful to point out that steampunk, as a genre, is not exactly known for hard science?
Hey, I know there are folks out there who love their sf hard. I know they think of “hardness” (as the term is used in the genre) as a virtue. And that’s fine for them. People should have their fun, especially if it makes them feel virtuous but I think its important to remember what a small subset of the overall readership these folks represent.
Most people don’t care, and wagging your finger at authors because, say, their zombies aren’t scientifically sound, just makes me shake my head and chuckle.
The political and cultural critiques of Steampunk have more weight, imo, to the degree they are fair and accurate.
Anyway, now that steampunk is pretty mainstream, it’s time for a new “-punk” sub-genre to spring up. Here are my predictions:
Pepperpunk–Set during the spice trade during the late 16th century, featuring wooden sailing ships and the sort of hostile native people we used to see “Chongo” fight on the Banana Splits. For the first few years, all novels will feature various thinly-veiled versions of Captain Jack Sparrow and humorously ahistorical references to “never having been to Singapore.” The speculative elements are deliberately fantasy, but sf fans still claim the stories (and complain about them) because–by tradition–they contain giant worms.
Tulippunk–Set in the “United Provinces” in 1630, this takes place in what is now the Netherlands. Dutch botanists make amazing breakthroughs with cross-breeding, creating gigantic tulips that fill themselves with hydrogen and have a root system strong enough to hold a basket full of people. Also featuring plant men who readily and unquestioningly accept second-class citizen status. Part of the appeal of this genre will be finger-wagging at speculative bubbles and other economic issues of dubious accuracy.
Screampunk–Add a chainsaw-wielding serial killer to any previously established genre. Collect check.
Obsidianpunk–Stories set in the pre-Columbian era of Mexico, Central, and South America. Typically features actual feathered serpents, crashed alien ships, and gorgeous dark-skinned young women being dragged up stone steps to a bloody altar. Hero should be some sort of warrior or possibly a bullied astrologer with a Jor El Complex. Features enough Evil Priests in Red Cloaks to make Diana Wynne Jones drain a whole bottle of cheap gin in one go.
Katanapunk–Set during the Meiji Restoration and featuring all the goggles, zeppelins, and gears that steampunk features, this subgenre will focus on Japanese political and cultural turmoil. Non-Japanese characters will have small roles or won’t appear at all. No one will visit the US or Europe, and all historical aspects will be rigorously researched and intelligently handled. It’ll be widely praised as the sort of thing people should be writing but will sell very few copies and die out quickly. This option is more for people who want to be admired than read.
Magicpunk–Pretty much what it says on the label.
What about you? Any ideas for the next -punk?