In the comments of the post below, Johne Cook recommended I read a book featuring Doc Holliday in a Steampunk setting. So I felt like I had to come out of the closet and admit my general dislike for Steampunk as a whole.
Trying to explain what I don’t care for about it left me with a lot of questions. Why the abreaction? Why would someone who so dearly enjoys great world-building and speculative fiction of most types have such a brass-and-clockwork chip on her shoulder about poor little Steampunk? After all, by combining two of my favourite things–gadgetry and alternative history–Steampunk should, by all rights, set me on fire.
Truth be told, I really DID enjoy the first real work in the genre that I ever read. It’s been about fifteen years since I read Gibson’s The Difference Engine, so some of the details are hazy, but I recall it being mostly alternative history and What-If politics akin to Harry Turtledove and other such works of that type that I harbour great affection for. Since I love political systems I very much like the idea of unravelling a thread or two and then seeing how the tapestry changes.
But Steampunk as it stands now is less about systemic reflow and more about “how cool would it be if these Victorian era people could kick hinds with mechanical gadgets?” The stories then end up looking like hot messes. (Wild Wild West and the giant spider? League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen?) In short, the focus is more about the gadgets than the people, and while I like gadgets I’m not one for gadget primacy in a story. (This might be another reason that I didnt out and out love Dan Simmons’ _Hyperion_.)
I guess I should be honest about another thing. Well, another two things. Two People? The other main reason is probably that I’ve read too much Charles Dickens and Ripperology. To me the Victorian age is always this dark, dirty coal-smudged frigidness, playing out the last of the Little Ice Age under gas lamps and fetid steam from midden heaps. It isn’t a shiny, happy place that I have any desire to visit. Since so much of Steampunk is either set in the Victorian era or heavily steeped in Jules Vernesque stuffs and mores I think I can’t warm to it.
I hope I’ve put my finger on it enough to clarify my position, so that people understand my dislike of the genre isn’t their fault by instead lies in my own preconceptions. If anyone has a Steampunk type story they think I might like I’m definitely open to suggestions.
And on that note I’m off to watch Tombstone. It’s gonna be a Doc Holliday weekend.