Hi guys! It's summer time and we're halfway done with the year. Personally, I feel like 2017 is disappearing quickly. I guess the cliché phrase is right. Time flies when you're having fun. As a steampunk author and general fan of the genre, I'm always looking for more information, events, contacts, media, literature, etc. You could say steampunk has a small yet devout following, but it also seems like the fan base is getting bigger. I noticed quite a few discussions and posts through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other websites. It seems like some steampunk fans wonder if the genre is dying slowly but surely. Honestly, I disagree with that concern. But I definitely believe steampunk is undergoing some changes. This post is reviewing my viewpoints about the steampunk genre and what's happening to it during 2017.
We're seeing a huge explosion of punk genres. I'm seeing a lot of newer ones like dieselpunk, biopunk, atompunk, stonepunk, and so on. The original punk genre known as cyberpunk is also making a comeback this year. Overall, steampunk appears to be the most popular genre in this family. I'm making this statement because steampunk has a very distinct subculture with cosplayers, conventions, social media, small groups, and more. Furthermore, there are many steampunk novels and unpublished fiction. I'm also noticing that steampunk is quite popular among young adults. It's very common to see teenagers participating in steampunk cosplay at Comic Con or other sci-fi events. Can you identify any cyberpunk or dieselpunk conventions? Probably not. I'm sure they exist, but it's much easier to name steampunk festivals like the Steampunk World's Fair, Gaslight Expo, Steamposium, Motor City Steam Con, the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, etc. There are plenty of steampunk conventions outside of the United States as well. I always see a fair amount of steampunk cosplayers and vendors at the various Comic Cons, but it's a small number of people compared to the superheroes, space operas, anime characters, and post-apocalyptic mayhem. Realistically, steampunk can't compete with those genres. I don't think steampunk will ever be more popular than superhero fiction. But we can dream, right?
There are plenty of ways to identify steampunk's longevity. Just be observant. New steampunk books were released this year. I noticed some new releases by Gail Carriger through Facebook and Twitter. If you look online at Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, the list of steampunk books keeps growing. I met several creators of steampunk comic books at WonderCon. Lady Mechanika, Moriarty, Boston Metaphysical Society, and Pariah Missouri looked really interesting. I'm also acquainted with a steampunk cosplay group called the Steampunk Star Wars Universe and it seems like they have more members at every convention. There appears to be a rise in steampunk modeling and photography. I'm always finding new photos through social media. For those of you who enjoy steampunk DIY costuming, go to Joann's and pick out patterns. You won't have any trouble finding patterns with steampunk themes. Steampunk also has a big presence around Halloween time. You can walk into any Halloween store and find costumes or props that would work perfectly. Ironically, a lot of props in the serial killer section of the Halloween stores work really well with steampunk costumes. Wrenches, pickaxes, lead pipes, hammers, chains, etc. Some of my Facebook friends are steampunk costume designers and it seems like they're always busy with clients and public appearances. Disneyland has unofficial steampunk days during the Dapper Day Expo twice a year. It's a popular event for the residents of Southern California. We might be seeing some steampunk influences in video games. I wouldn't be surprised if Vampyr and Call of Cthulhu will have some vague steampunk elements. Those games are going to be released around Christmas time. Steampunk fans can rest at ease because the genre isn't going to disappear any time soon.
I'm definitely noticing some changes and trends in steampunk. Even though the Victorian style remains popular, other themes seem to be growing. It's very common for people to combine steampunk with something else. A typical example is the Wild West version of steampunk. That one is becoming a classic. Nowadays, it's also common to see steampunk pirates, post-apocalyptic themes, aviators, explorers, etc. Some cosplayers also blending together steampunk with other franchises, like Marvel or DC superheroes, Star Wars, video games, Disney characters, and more. I guess that might be the best way for steampunk to compete with superheroes or Star Wars. There seems to be an increase in paranormal steampunk fiction with ghosts or other supernatural elements. The fantasy version of steampunk with vampires and werewolves is also quite popular. I know some people dislike the idea of combining the steampunk and post-apocalyptic genres, but it's happening anyway. In fact, steampunk is almost venturing further away from the Victorian theme and is heading deeper into the post-apocalyptic subgenre. I'm not sure how long that trend will last. Ultimately, steampunk will always turn back to the Victorian period. For better or worse, there's a lot more romance and erotica in steampunk. This might be an attempt to bring more female readers into the world of steampunk, but I'm honestly not sure. Also, romance is overwhelmingly the most popular literary genre. Therefore, it makes sense to increase romantic steampunk fiction. It's a way to gain more readers and venture into the mainstream.
Are we going to see more futuristic periods in steampunk fiction? Maybe not in 2017, but I strongly believe it's going to happen within the next handful of years. How many of you joined steampunk groups on Facebook? There are quite a few steampunk groups through social media with many members. Several members in these groups are budding writers and I noticed that quite a few of them were interested in futuristic storylines. It's almost like the concept of future Victorians. Personally, I think the idea is cool because it's the setting in my own book series titled The Post-Apocalyptic Society. It's a different twist on steampunk. Usually, steampunk fiction takes place during an alternate version of the Victorian era. You could say it's a reaction against Victorianism or conformity. That won't be true for every author, but it seems to be a common theme. Everything is going to be turned backwards in futuristic settings. The characters are making a statement against the modern era and are choosing to revert back to Victorian ideals. I believe this new and futuristic version of steampunk will have a lot of interesting storylines. It's hard to tell if this type of steampunk will become very popular. Only time will tell.
Truthfully, the biggest competitors for steampunk are the other punk genres. I already mentioned that cyberpunk is gaining some attention this year. For example, we're seeing more cyberpunk films this year. Ghost in the Shell got mixed reception from audiences. Some people thought the movie was entertaining with a pretty decent story. Others hated the white washing and didn't believe it was faithful to the source material. I don't remember critics being particularly thrilled with this movie. Personally, I'm looking forward to Blade Runner 2049. I hope it's going to be a great sequel to the original Blade Runner film. But you never know. Anything could happen. It's hard for cyberpunk to hit the mainstream. The genre is philosophical, dystopian, ethereal, complex, and frequently political. Aside from The Matrix and Terminator series, a lot of cyberpunk works are underappreciated. I realize some people might not believe The Matrix or Terminator should be categorized as cyberpunk, but that's an argument for another day. There's a lot of good cyberpunk literature and I don't know many people who read it. So, I doubt cyberpunk will dethrone steampunk yet.
I also noticed a lot of growth in dieselpunk. It's a much newer genre compared to cyberpunk and steampunk. Dieselpunk often takes place during the WWI or WWII periods and it has a lot of noir elements. It can actually take place during any time period when fossil fuels are predominant power sources, including the modern era. Most likely, this growth is happening because WWI and WWII are very popular settings. Noir is also becoming more popular this year. I have to admit that dieselpunk elements are a lot more evident in films than steampunk. For the most part, steampunk films are relegated to the Victorian period, Wild West, or a post-apocalyptic setting with a lot of steam power. The popularity of Victorianism and the Wild West comes and goes. We're not going to see a lot of consecutive years that have a big emphasis on the Victorian period. On the other hand, WWI and WWII are great settings for Oscar bait. It's something to think about. Unfortunately, steampunk films didn't prove to be very successful in the past. Wild Wild West, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and The Golden Compass were universally panned by critics and audiences. The Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. had moderate success. Perhaps directors, producers, and screen writers are hesitant to create more steampunk films due to this problem. It's just a theory. Will dieselpunk become more popular than steampunk in 2017? It won't happen, but the genre is definitely growing and developing. That's actually a good thing. I'm glad dieselpunk is developing a bigger fan base with more stylistic elements. Dieselpunk doesn't have the strong subcultural following yet, but it might get there some day. Right now, very few people know the word dieselpunk except for hardcore sci-fi enthusiasts. A lot of people still don't know much about steampunk, but at least more individuals in the mainstream have a vague idea about the genre. There's another issue because many people think something is steampunk when it's actually dieselpunk. The two genres can look somewhat similar. I'm pretty sure we're going to see less of that problem when mainstream audiences become more familiar with dieselpunk as a separate genre.
I wish steampunk grew more in popularity this year. It grew noticeably in 2015 and 2016. This year seems to be more stagnate. But it's not declining and I'm happy about that part. Slow and steady wins the race. What have you noticed about steampunk in 2017? Leave a comment and let us know. Are any of you guys seeing new trends for dieselpunk or cyberpunk? I would love to hear from you too. Thanks for reading my long post and stay tuned for next week's topic. Sweet dreams!
Q: Good evening! I’m glad you guys are visiting my blog today. We have another special guest. I’m interviewing Poppy Appleton, aka Ahsoka Giya. She’s a steampunk cosplayer and a member of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe. The SWSU is a cosplay group and charity organization that’s continually growing in members. I interviewed a couple members in the past and everybody in the SWSU seems to be very pleasant company. Thanks for joining us, Poppy.
A: Glad to be here, Stephanie!
Q: Your SWSU persona is Ahsoka Giya. Would you mind telling us about it?
A: Ahsoka Giya is a steampunk imagining of Ahsoka Tano. Giya meaning gear in Japanese. I tried to keep a silhouette of the character from season 3-5 of the Clone Wars but with a steampunk twist.
Q: Why did you join the SWSU?
A: My husband (Cog Bane) and I had recently moved from northern California to San Diego. We have been friends with Nathan Seekerman for a few years after meeting at the different cons. When we moved to San Diego, he asked that we join! After seeing the great charity work the group provides to the community, we were in.
Q: It seems like the SWSU is getting bigger. Are you getting a lot more members?
A: Yes, the group is steadily growing. I love it because it's wonderful to see the great costumes that people come up with.
Q: Aside from yourself, which member of the SWSU has the most interesting costume?
A: I have always loved Rebecca’s take on Boba Fett (Lady Babette Fett). There’s always something new and interesting on her costume. And it’s just lovely!
Q: What’s your favorite Star Wars film?
A: I honestly love then all, even the prequels! But as a kid, I LOVED Empire Strikes Back when they were on Hoth. I love Wampa! I feel the story and character development were nicely paced and there’s lots of fun stuff, such as AT-ATs, Yoda, Boba Fett, and we really get to see Luke dive into his Jedi powers. And of course the, “I am your father!” Ahh! I love it!
Q: Regarding cosplay in general, what do you enjoy most about it?
A: The community! The community is amazing and wonderfully supportive. I also love cosplay because any day can be dress up day! I feel cosplay really gets the side of myself that craves creativity.
Q: I think some people label cosplayers a degenerate subculture of social misfits. Why do you think certain people give cosplay a negative label?
A: Degenerate subculture of social misfits isn’t a negative label at all! I think a lot of us identify with being different and cosplay makes us feel we belong not only to the characters we love and embody but to a group that understands this love for these characters.
Q: Do you have other cosplay personas?
A: I have several and they are all steampunk. I have a steampunk bandit, steampunk princess, steampunk jester, and a steampunk gunslinger.
Q: Let’s move to a few steampunk questions. It seems like most steampunk fans have their own unique view on the genre. How would you define steampunk?
A: I have always looked at steampunk with a very wide lens. It’s the future in the past, or the past in the future. Since there is no definitive movie or book, steampunk is what you make of it. So long as it’s weird, it’s steampunk.
Q: Do you have a favorite steampunk book series?
A: I LOVED the Leviathian series by Scott Westerfeld. It’s a young adult novel series but it was so good. I also enjoyed Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I also dabbled in Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris.
Q: Steampunk enthusiasts seem to be multiplying. Why do you think people are drawn to the genre?
A: Steampunk is a very fluid genre and I think that attracts people who want something weird or different, but still want some individuality to their own personal creations. This is appealing to people like myself who want to make a character their own.
Q: I noticed several whimsical elements in steampunk, like gears, goggles, top hats, parasols, and various knick knacks. What are your favorite steampunk accessories?
A: The jewelry! I love weird jewelry. The weirder, the better! I make all of my own jewelry so I try to put my own twists on things. I also love hats. I have a hat or headpiece for every costume.
Q: My own book series has a combination of steampunk and post-apocalyptic elements. We’re definitely seeing more post-apocalyptic steampunk literature, but some people don’t believe the two genres can blend together. On the flip side, some people don’t understand how steampunk can be anything except post-apocalyptic. What are your thoughts about that dilemma?
A: I think steampunk fits in post-apocalyptic literature and outside of it. Steampunk is very fluid and I think that works for many different “worlds.” I think the only dilemma may be a persons love for a certain type of literature that they can’t imagine sharing a steampunk world outside of that.
Q: Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
A: Just trying to finish some costume updates for Ahsoka for Comic-Con. I’d like to tackle a few bigger projects this year but we’ll see ;)
Q: I’m really glad we talked. You gave a lot of fun and interesting answers. Thanks for letting us know more about yourself and the fabulous Ahsoka Giya. I will probably run into you and other members of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe at future events. Best wishes to you and the entire organization.
A: Thank you! And thank you for the opportunity!
That concludes my interview with Poppy Appleton. I really enjoyed talking to her. She seems really fun and open minded to everything in the realm of steampunk or science fiction in general. In fact, the entire SWSU is a swell group. Hopefully, many of you guys will have the pleasure of meeting her at some of the steampunk festivals or comic cons. I also want to thank Con Woman Photography, Sonny Meas Photography, and The Photobloggin' Fedora/“Kimihiro-kun” for taking a few of the lovely photos in this post. You guys can find Ahsoka Giya on Instagram as Poppy Appleton. I'm also going to leave Facebook links for Poppy and the SWSU. Please leave comments if you want to say anything about this interview. I hope you enjoyed the experience and stay tuned for my next blog post. Have a good week!