What makes a ‘steampunk’ story steampunk?

I’m going to go with what Ben Bova said at his panel at Bubonicon in Albuquerque last year. He defined a science fiction story as one, in which, if you take the science out of the fiction, there’s no story.

The question has come up several times in the past months as our team of rookie slushers have pulled on the waders and gone into the fray. Quite to our surprise, we found that you could indeed glue gears onto a short story.

Top hats, tea, and really big dresses are not enough to steampunk a story. There has to be some hardware, some theme, some controversy laced into the corsets that makes the story go. Going out to the pub and talking with an inventor about his latest bit of machinery then going back to your previously scheduled plot isn’t going to count.

So we still can’t tell you what a steampunk story is, we’re becoming a lot more aware of when it is not. We need some meat to go with the fashionable frosting.

And we welcome you to disagree with us.

 

 

 

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