So I dropped into my blog reader today, and the number one topic of conversation seemed to be that steampunk sucks, is boring, is shallow, is revisionism(fictional revisionism, the horror!), is a commercial sell-out, is crap, is shit, is tiresome, is over-hyped, is racist, is colonialist, is adventurist, has not one really powerful story to its name, etc.
And then I saw that one of the people saying this was Charlie Stross, and I almost cried. Because I love the books Charlie Stross writes.
And then I stopped and thought: “People are getting worked up over a fucking sub-genre of fiction.” Why? What’s the point? You don’t like steampunk? Great. Enjoy whatever it is you enjoy, but why attack a genre that’s never done anything to you? Either write something better or move on. Isn’t there some new Tolkien clone somewhere to bash? Horrendous glorification of the middle ages and all that?
If speculative fiction was a house, steampunk would be the leaky boiler pipe in the basement. Don’t stand in front of it and you won’t get burned. Maybe you find it annoying. Well, I find it annoying when people turn down the high while wearing a jacket indoors. Tolkienesque fantasy could fit that metaphor very well. But there are four other people in the house who agree, so I suck it up and move on with my day. I don’t accuse them of oppressing the working class.
I’ve read some great steampunk, some good steampunk, and some shitty steampunk. The latter category is much larger than I would prefer, but 90% of every genre is crap, so why the need to jump on one poor little sub-genre over having a few shity books, or books that disagreed with your politics by having a few noblemen protrayed in a positive light? Nobody is making you read this, and I don’t know very many other readers or writers who would prefer to live in the 19th century because they loved the last steampunk story they read.