American Steampunk

May 9, 2011

For those of you that don’t know, we’re doing a steampunk themed issue towards the end of the summer. We’re still accepting stores, see the details here, so I’d encourage you to send a story in. We talked a bit about what steampunk is in Galley Table Episode Thirty-Three and that was a lot of fun.

On that note, I had one of those great geeky dad moments this weekend when I was snuggled up with my son and watching Back to the Future IIII. I love that series, but a thought struck me towards the end. If you’ve seen if, you may know where I’m going with this. Doc Brown was stuck back in 1885 and Marty was concerned that he’d never see his friend again. Now Marty’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If he was, he would have realized that the Doc had hooked up with a woman every bit as brilliant as he is. Together, nothing would stop the Doc and Clara from inventing a steam powered time machine. And so they did.

That moment was totally steampunk. The only thing that set it apart was that it was as American as you could get. Most steampunk I’ve been exposed to has been decidedly British. We talked about that in the podcast with Tee and Pip and in their universe they’ll be addressing that with some adventures in New Zealand. Given the DIY mentality of the genre and of America, at least in the nineteenth century, having stories take place in America would seem to be a no-brainer.

With novels like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (I have no idea if it’s steampunk-ish in any way) and the sort of feel you get from a movie like Wild Wild West as jumping off points, I’d be excited to see what you guys can come up with. The old west was still alive and kicking. The Civil War and the antebellum south would both make kick butt settings for a steam powered adventure/romance/comedy. My imagination is ticking over just thinking about it.

It doesn’t stop there, though. There’s apparently also a dearth of stories that take place in the colonies. England was arguably at the height of its power (if I’m wrong, don’t shoot me) and its influence was widely felt. Tell a story set in India or Australia. For that matter, leave the west and its territories behind. Show us something in China or what steampunk might look like on the steppes of Russia. The options are limitless.

The deadline is the end of this month, so get writing! And even if you don’t get us a story, let’s talk about our favorite steampunk in the forums.

1 Comment

  • J-P Losier says:

    I know there was a Johnny Depp retake on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” but I think that the location (just about 30 miles north of NYC, just south of West Point, along the Hudson River) and history (All of those Washington irving stories, the capturing of Major Andre’ for trying to steal the plans to West Point during the Revolutionary War, home to the “Stanley Steamer” automobile factory,) It has a century-old castle, *several* mansions from the same period, the 325-year-old Old Dutch Church and cemetery, ruins, tunnels, woods, and more nooks and crannies than you can shake an english muffin at.