Will steampunk save the science fiction writer?

For a long time now fantasy has been outselling science fiction. Fantasy fans are legion while the ranks of Trekkies dwindle. Fans of sf seem to prefer movies and tv to fiction. Has it always been like this? Why are more people turned on by magic, mysticism, superstition, and the accoutrements of the past rather than the possibilities of the future? Perhaps it’s the potential for interaction with the genre that attracts fans. While science fiction cons have always been a place for fans to dress up as their favorite Clingon or other extra-terrestrial, involving yourself in tarot, wicca, or other aspects of fantasy can actually become part of your lifestyle. The clothes aren’t nearly as outlandish as a space suit.

Is it possible that steampunk will so the same thing for science fiction?

If you’re a science fiction writer, you might want to jump on the band wagon while it’s still rolling.

Sue (scusteister) Lange

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3 responses to “Will steampunk save the science fiction writer?

  1. Science fiction novels aren’t selling eh? That’s news to me. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was science fiction. Frank Herbert’s Dune has sold around the same number as The Lord Of The Rings. James Patterson and Stephen King are writing science fiction now, and King’s Under The Dome, which I have preordered and is the number one seller on amazon, is due out soon. None of these I would consider Steam Punk, which is border-lining a fad more than a genre.

  2. Steampunk actually has far more in common with fantasy than it does science fiction. At best, steampunk can be called proto-SF, but most of the time it’s far more fantastic in the fantasy sense than it is in the science sense.

    But maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by steampunk “doing the same thing for science fiction.”

  3. Steampunk is definitely science fiction, but like a lot of science fiction it can be “fantastic,” in that it may be futuristic but not taking into account the latest science as we know it. We could argue at length (and most science fiction fans do all the time) about whether or not a particular story is science fiction or not. Steampunk began as science fiction with a premise that analog computers might have been possible in the age of steam (i.e. the Victorian Age) thereby giving us something akin to modern tech without the use of electronics (semiconductors). Basically we’re talking about the aesthetics of the 1800s with the technological possibilities of today. It was an exercise for alternate history involving a change in tech rather than a change in a single event, for example the South winning the U.S. Civil War.

    What a particular writer does with steampunk is totally up to him or her, but certainly it’s all “fantastic.”

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