Q: Good evening! Today, I’m interviewing another special guest from the steampunk community. Marcus R. Gilman runs the Meta-Punk website and provides plenty of information about steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, and more to viewers all over the world. He’s a really interesting guy who can tell you anything about steampunk. Thanks for joining me today, Marcus.
A: My pleasure, Stephanie
Q: Why did you become interested with steampunk?
A: Well, I have been interested in Zeppelins pretty much as long as I can remember. I also greatly enjoyed Michael Moorcock’s proto-steampunk saga “A nomad of the time-streams,” but I actually came across the steampunk scene by accident. I have been a member of the goth scene since about 1992 and one day, it must have been in 2007, I came across the band Abney Park on a Gothic board (back in the day you still got those on the web…). I really liked them and wanted to know more about them. This led me to the brassgoggles forum (www.brassgoggles.co.uk), which at the time was THE place to discuss steampunk. From there, there was no turning back. I loved everything about steampunk right away!
Q: I believe every steampunk fan has his or her own definition of the genre and subculture. How would you define steampunk in general?
A: Steampunk is what Jules Verne and H.G. Wells have written about, taken into overdrive, and where you drive it is up to you!
Q: Why did you create the Meta-punk website?
A: Meta-Punk actually started out as daily-steampunk.com (the site is still up, I only migrated the content). It was a steampunk blog to begin with and for a time was actually very popular. I just wanted to blog about steampunk, my experiences in the scene, reviews of steampunk books (fiction and non-fiction), music… The works. Over time, other stuff crept onto the blog, like the Cthulhu Mythos, cyberpunk, dieselpunk… Basically everything you encounter sooner or later when you meet steampunks.
Q: What kinds of resources can viewers get from Meta-Punk?
A: There is a lot of steampunk reviews on there (books, movies, games) and also links to other websites.
Apart from steampunk, there is also cosplay and gaming related stuff, and just things relating to geek and nerd culture. Also: I am a minor scholar of the life and works of H.P. Lovecraft, so you find a lot of Cthulhu-related things there.
And of course: Dieselpunk, cyberpunk and atompunk.
Q: Do you participate in the cosplay scene?
A: I do. I am actually part of a Vienna-based Fallout cosplay group. I have a complete NCR ranger costume from Fallout: New Vegas. You can see all of us in this video https://vimeo.com/245890029, time index 03:23, I am the guy kneeling on one knee in the NCR Ranger costume (without a great coat) holding a revolver.
Q: What is your favorite version of steampunk? Victorian, Wild West, post-apocalyptic, or something else?
A: Alt-Belle Epoque, “Victorian” is too Anglo-centric for my taste. Basically, the spirit of the Belle Epoque never died. Humanity really got better, left the barabarism of earlier days behind and embraced technology and civilized behavior. So, it’s pretty optimistic, really.
Q: Do you have a favorite steampunk novel or book series?
A: Lavie Tidhar’s “The Bookman” trilogy wins this one, hands down.
Q: Steampunk continues to change and evolve over time. I’m curious to see your opinion about it. How would you describe the evolution of steampunk at this point?
A: This leads me back to the point that brought you and me into contact with each other in the first place. My now rather infamous “Cyberpunk will outlive Steampunk” posts on my blog:
It really depends on where you are in the world. In some countries, the scene is vibrant, expanding and evolving, in others, it seems to be stagnant and devolving into a fashion show and in some countries it seems to have vanished as a separate thing. But there is no easy answer for the scene on a global scale.
Q: Would you say the steampunk community is growing or shrinking?
A: See the previous response. It really depends on the country, but I’d say it is definitely still growing on the web.
Q: You also blog about cyberpunk sometimes. The entertainment industry seems to be fascinated with cyberpunk, but audiences are not receptive. Blade Runner 2049, Ex Machina, and Ghost in the Shell were not very successful at the box office. I’m pretty sure Alita: Battle Angel is going to bomb. Why do you think mainstream audiences are less interested in cyberpunk than professionals in the film industry?
A: Honestly, I have been hooked by cyberpunk ever since I watched Akira some time around 1992 and I have no idea why cyberpunk isn’t more popular. It has been thriving underground and has sort of a cult-following, but I have no idea why it did not become more popular. It should be!
Q: Do you think dieselpunk is going to become more popular than steampunk some day?
A: It already is in South America, from what I heard. I think it would be great if it would be equally popular. I love 30’s fashion and would love to have an easier time getting my hands on stuff.
Q: Now there’s a huge plethora of punk genres. Some of them seem to be more reputable than others. Would you like to learn more information about certain punk genres? Perhaps atompunk, stonepunk, biopunk, solarpunk, etc.?
A: I would love to see more atompunk, raypunk and solarpunk. Atompunk because I love the style, raypunk because of the swashbuckling sci-fi adventures and solarpunk because it actually has a potential for a better future (as opposed to being post-apocalyptic).
Q: Do you believe most punk genres share any common themes or elements?
A: Not really …-punk has become a watered-down umbrella term or catch phrase. You cannot really tell what it means anymore in relation to subcultures.
Q: Here’s a trend I’m noticing. Ultimately, most punk genres wind up in the pit of apocalypse. Cyberpunk and steampunk are going through a big post-apocalyptic trend. Dieselpunk is starting to head in that direction a little bit. Why do you think post-apocalypse and punk genres overlap so much?
A: I’d hazard the guess that punk is deeply anarchic and anarchy leads to tearing down societies and this ends in some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario, so that’s why it all goes in that direction.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: Fun fact: I have cameos in several steampunk novels.
Q: Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us. I definitely learned something new today. Maybe we can have more discussions further down the road. Best wishes for you future endeavors.
A: Thank you very much.
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. Marcus is a very analytical person and I can always learn something new from him. Click on the link above to check out Meta-Punk. It's a blog and database about punk genres, comics, the Cthulhu Mythos, literature, gaming, etc. Leave a comment if you have any thoughts about this post. Enjoy the rest of your week and watch out for more steampunk news. Full steam ahead!
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