Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Steampunks, Get Off the Grass

I like Victorian era science fiction.  I like some modern day science fiction in the same style.  I dig retrofutrism.  I hate steampunk.

Maybe that's too harsh.  The actual movies, books, and general aesthetic I enjoy.  What gets under my skin is steampunk as some kind of subculture, specifically how I hear about its "rising popularity" every couple of years.

The first thing that annoys me is the "-punk" suffix.  It made some sense when originally used in cyberpunk, but it's spiraled into meaninglessness, kind of like how all indie bands were in some obscure "-core" genre.  It kind of fit with splatterpunk, but decopunk should not be a word.  Dieselpunk sounded stupid and obscure until I figured out it meant "Sci-fi from and set in the 1920-40s, but written today".  Then you get your stonepunk (caveman days), clockpunk (Renaissance), atompunk (1950s-60s).  I would make a joke about nowpunk, but neologist Bruce Sterling beat me to it.  Instead I'd like to introduce my series of science fiction about hackers on the fringes of society that have implants in their brains that allow them to interface directly with computer networks, written in the style of 1980s books by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.  I'll call it cyberpunkpunk.  If that isn't already a thing, it will be.

Such things are largely meaningless in the 21st Century, but there is nothing edgy about steampunk.  Disney embraced it at Disneyland Paris back in 1992 while hipsters and nerds found out about it with 1999's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the same year Will Smith's Wild Wild West came out.  It was uncool long before it was cool.

Bleeding Edge!

Meanwhile, steampunk has spun off into some weird directions.  There's a collection of steampunk Sarah Palin cheesecake and more than one steampunk mime band.

Mainly it gives me bad flashbacks to some of the idiots that embraced cyberpunk a couple decades ago.  I knew a guy that had a tall stack of issues of 2600.  He would go through the dumpster in the back of Radio Shack, take apart old calculators, and sew circuit boards into his jacket.  He did not own a computer.  There was also a guy that would show up places in a full blown Borg outfit.  These people were idiots.  As is the guy in a waistcoat that held up my bus this morning because he kept missing the coin slot because he couldn't see through his welding goggles.

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