Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Response to an Article About the Possible "Greying Down" of Steampunk Fiction

This is my response to a wonderful article about internal questioning about how to keep Steampunk Fiction from falling into the same trap of "Greying Down" by following rigid genre rules that it was originally designed to break free of in literature.  The article it is in response to is at:

My response to this was the following.  After looking at what came out of me spontaneously as a celebration of a great creative opportunity given to me...well...I just wanted to share it with you.

Bravo! I don’t really care that much what the answers are, because the whole point of steampunk is to encourage and reawaken the act of creativity and self expression! As such, the questions are much more important than the answers which no two people are likely to totally agree on, nor should they necessarily try to. What is better, more fertile, and more likely to produce strange and wonderful new creations is to agree that these questions are out there, and that they do matter, but that in the end, we should create what makes us happy, and let the readers decide which version they like on any given day without constraining them to wanting the same flavor of steampunk from one day to the next. Otherwise it goes stale. Any rigid set of rules will certainly grey everything down. It is appropriate to talk about general patterns about what makes us, as individuals, but only us, think “that’s a steampunk story or piece of music etc, and what does not. What is important is to avoid making others feel inferior because their taste in steampunk differs from our own. That takes what is interesting in hearing about another person’s taste and makes it some sort of corporate formula which is what we are all rebelling against!…Well that and the numbness and depression that creeps up when the joy in life is snuffed out by what is seen as the practical necessity of focusing exclusively on making a few more dollars to pay the creditors. If it gives hope to you, think on this: I am currently writing Steampunk fiction revolving around a specifically requested storyline by a convention organizer that is trying to take his personal life from anime conventions that he does for money and into steampunk conventions that are far more interesting to him. He is allowing me an enormous amount of artistic freedom, so my acting troupe is going to have a load of fun with this and is turning his entire steampunk convention (The Difference Engine) into one big dramatic murder mystery theater, with only bits of humor thrown in at moments when it is unexpected. We rarely get to do drama, really, in steampunk or even anime events, because they want costume contests and panels with no time to actually introduce characters and develop a story, so comedy is all there has been time for. This is different. This is interesting! this can go any direction our minds want to travel, because every few hours, the entire con will get shut down for a “summit meeting” where everyone finds themselves drifting into a meeting to discuss what the saboteurs have been up to, who is missing, and what the security cameras (a very progressive invention for the 1800s, but we are on a captain Nemo level of advance airship after all) have filmed in grainy silent black and white that gives enough of a view to throw suspicion on many of their neighbors more than it answers any questions. This is fiction, because without fiction, there is no good drama!  This is dramatic enactment (with scripts rehearsals etc) blended with deep audience participation and innovation. This may well be one of many solutions to fears of “Steampunk Fiction” growing stale, because many minds will bend reality in many different ways, but with an underlying script driving all of it!

Fair winds to you! If you get bored, do it differently!

Adm. Ramon Leon del Mar (aka Ramon Fagan)
Kali’s Hourglass

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