Friday, April 30, 2010

The Roots of Steampunk -- Wrapping It All Up

Over the past four weeks, I've examined the genres that influenced Steampunk and some of the early (or most famous) works within those genres. We've gone through Gothic Literature, Urban Gothic, Scientific Romances, Alternate History, Detective Fiction, and Dystopias; with authors who are sometimes unexpected and others who have been considered fathers of entire genres. We even had New York Times bestseller Gail Carriger talk about Steampunk Fashion.

Each of the genres we've discussed thus far have influenced the Steampunk genre in some way. Dystopias give dark Steampunk the anarchy and tyrannical governments that heroes need to struggle against; from Alternate History, we have First World Steampunk that looks at what would happen if history took a different turn through technology. Detective Fiction grants Steampunk its logical bent, and Scientific Romances allow my fellow Steampunk authors a glimpse into the optimism or pessimism of Late Victorian technology. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Gothic literature and its subgenre Urban Gothic tap into the strong emotions of terror that the city and the countryside can stir in the readers of a well-written story.

What's important to understand though, is that it's the combination of these genres that makes Steampunk what it is today. If you write a Detective story without including the high-end mechanical or steam technology of Scientific Romances, then you've just written a Detective story. The same goes for any of the other genres on the list of the roots of Steampunk. The blend, and your imagination in doing so, is what makes the story Steampunk. Nothing else.

And with that, I bring this series to a close. Here's to hoping that you've all enjoyed reading about The Roots of Steampunk as much as I've enjoyed writing about it. Until Monday, loyal readers.


Elisabeth Black said...

Cool series, Matt. I didn't know much about steampunk beyond images. Now I know more. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

This has been a wonderful education for me. I was intrigued by Steampunk before, and now I know why - its roots are in many of the genres I already love. Thanks for sharing your (extensive!) knowledge. :)

L. T. Host said...

Great series. I've learned so much, and I have a bunch of new old books I want to dig up and read.

Matthew Delman said...

Beth, Susan, and L.T. --

Thank you so much for your compliments, ladies. Exploring the roots of the genre like this were enlightening for me too -- I love untangling the strands and tracking things back to where they first started, and it always makes me happy when other people enjoy it too.

Cynthia Reese said...

Thanks for educating me! Now I know what steampunk is, and I'll definitely be checking out books in this genre!