Steampunk inspiration and resources

Has Steampunk Steam-Peaked???

Hiya Gearheads

As I comb the innumerable Steampunk websites that have closed down in order to find those few genuinely active people for my resources page, it is making me pretty depressed. It feels like half the sites I go to  are either sitting idle without new material for a year or two, or have their closing announcement right there on the front page. What’s even worse are the trolls who think it’s fun to post nasty comments about how “Steampunk is dead” on those announcements.

How is Steampunk’s Pulse Rate These Days?

As I look through my own website stats, I am sorry to report that Year 3 will probably fall short of Year 2’s readership. My normal summer lull is even lull-ier than in previous years even though my peaks in the winter and spring were at an all-time high. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this has more to do with my trickle of posts while I get my life together rather than anything to do with Steampunk as a whole, but it isn’t a good sign. (Though on a happier note, this site just passed 3,000 followers!)

On the other hand, when I searched Amazon for “Steampunk Books 2016” I got a listing of over 2,900 titles. I’m sure some of the things in that list aren’t actually books, but it certainly gives me hope. When I looked at the “Hot New Releases” section for Steampunk, there were 15 out of the top 20 coming out in just August alone! I also have been contacted recently by several new Steampunk authors who are looking for reviews, so I don’t think that the literature at least is going anywhere anytime soon.

 

IMG_8475

Teapot Racing at the International Steampunk Symposium

 

IMG_8520Then, there are the conventions. I don’t know the exact numbers for either Steampunk World’s Fair or the International Steampunk Symposium that I attended this year, but Steampunk certainly didn’t seem “dead” at those events! (Unless of course I was surrounded by zombies…) Thousands of people went to these and other conventions all over the country, not to mention the world, in 2016 alone. And at these cons, hundreds of vendors sold their wares and dozens of bands played Steampunk-themed music. Yep, no resuscitation needed there!

 

I also decided to also take a quick mosey through YouTube. When you search for Steampunk there, you get a whopping 844,400 results! Of course, the stuff on YouTube doesn’t go anywhere just like the websites, so many of these could be outdated. On the other hand, does a fantastic short film have to be “new” to be great? Does a step-by-step guide to modifying your nerf gun really need to be updated? Not so much. Alright, videos devoted to Steampunk? Check.

Oh yeah, and of course there was Steampunked, a TV show for Steampunk artisans, just last year.

The Reports of my Death have been Greatly Exaggerated…

Based on these findings, I’d say that Steampunk is alive and well, and trolls just gonna troll no matter what. The biggest trend I have seen in Steampunk lately is to make it more inclusive. Collections like the upcoming Steampunk Universe will feature a number of stories about people who are considered “other” and the way steam technology effects their lives. I’ve attended a panel on the ethical treatment of women in science fiction, and it is clearly a topic near and dear to the hearts of many. And of course, the push to break out of the bounds of the English-speaking sphere and include the rest of the world’s cultures and settings in Steampunk stories.

And let’s not forget, 2017 will mark the 30th Anniversary of the word Steampunk. I expect we will see a resurgence of interest as this special anniversary is celebrated across the world and I hope you will join in on all the fun!

I’ll be putting out a formal call for submissions later this year, but to celebrate Steampunk’s birthday I want to throw a little party. I’ll be looking for folks who are interested in doing guests posts for the celebration and (fingers crossed) an anthology of short stories, so if you are a writer keep your eyes open for the submission windows.

What do you think, is Steampunk slowing down? Leave a comment!

 

27 responses

  1. Kim Reed

    Hmmm, I just this morning received an inbox notification from Felix the Crafty Cat’s blog about the Asylum Steampunk Festival in the UK…maybe it’s a bigger deal over there than here in the states? Steampunk will always be big with us crafters though, but I sure wish my trip to the UK had been during that time instead of a couple of weeks ago ‘cuz I definitely would have taken the train to Lincoln to check that one out!

    Like

    August 29, 2016 at 9:13 am

    • I went to Asylum a couple years ago and it was awesome, but Lincoln was a PAIN to get to. Interestingly, Steampunk as we know it started in the US and it isn’t as big in the UK as one might think given the Victorian roots. My UK friends told me they envy how many conventions and interest groups there are in the US 🙂 I agree, I think makers will always keep Steampunk alive! It is just too much fun to make stuff in that aesthetic *not* to!

      Like

      August 29, 2016 at 9:40 am

  2. Thanks for writing this article! I write steampunk (my book was at #1 on Amazon Kindle for steampunk for a while there) yet I had never heard of your website! I agree, I don’t think steampunk is dead at all.

    I would love it if you might review my novel! I didn’t know there were any reviewers who specialized in steampunk. If you’re interested, you can find it here: http://getBook.at/jacqofspades

    Thanks again!

    Like

    August 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

  3. The entire SP is dead issue has been going around for about 2 years now. The fact that things might “slow down & speed up” is actually normal. Much of the fandom for us (at TeslaCon) is infact older. People over the age of 35. It also skews more female.
    I would not say woman spending one to two thousand dollars on ball gowns means the fandom is over, though I do believe some people have lives.

    Many are still in the fandom, and as we see are very die hard about it. Though changes happen and happen naturally. Deaths in families, school, jobs, job relocation etc. It all exists and is all part of life. To think it would not effect a small fandom such as SP is not seeing the bigger picture.

    I also see people yearning for something. A good film, tv show or book series that will somehow jump start their vision of the fandom. The fact is WE as fans create our own version of steam and I hope that continues. What I enjoy most is seeing the individuals and con-goers strike out on their own and create one of a kind pieces.

    I think it could be slowing for some of the reasons above, but I also feel people have others fandoms and things they like as well. Not that they gave up, they have just become busy.

    We are doing a fairly involved look at the dealers and con-goers this Fall at TeslaCon. To get a pulse of what fandom wants and what it is they expect. Hopefully we will find something of interest.

    Eric Larson / Lord Bobbins
    TESLACON

    Liked by 1 person

    August 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

    • These are great points 🙂 I would be VERY interested to find out your results as well! I hope to make it to TeslaCon next year so fingers crossed.

      Like

      August 29, 2016 at 11:20 am

    • Oops, I meant *this* year I hope to make it to TeslaCon. (For those wondering, it will be held Nov 17-20)

      Like

      August 29, 2016 at 11:24 am

  4. portapatetcormagis

    You know, we have a saying in German that means that people or things that have been said to be dead actually live longer. 🙂

    Over here steampunk is carefully entering mainstream (about the way gothic did). So there will be those people who think it is great and join for a year or two and then they’ll look for something else. Why not? Some of them may stick with the gears

    Liked by 1 person

    August 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    • I think there is an interesting tension when it comes to Steampunk and the mainstream, because by virtue of being “punk” it is anti-establishment, but in this case it is anti-establishment of the *past* so it is a bit different. I think there are many Steampunk fans who fear mass-production on the one hand, but also wish they could afford Steampunk stuff more easily and mass-production would drive down prices. An interesting paradox.

      Liked by 1 person

      August 29, 2016 at 1:23 pm

  5. I think your numbers are flawed due to people labeling books as steampunk that neither have steam nor punk in them. Especially authors on Amazon looking for someplace with low numbers of books to skew their sales. I won’t ask you to look at the 840,000+ videos on youtube, but I’d be willing to bet a high percentage have it merely as a keyword to get a higher viewer count.
    I don’t think it is dying. It is alive and well and being exploited for profit.

    Like

    August 29, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    • Yeah, keywords and labels are tricky. I definitely see people labeling any sort of metal sculpture as Steampunk, for instance (I suspect because figural sculptures it makes them think of automatons). And of course definitions vary a lot. I tend to focus on the aesthetic, which can be applied to just about anything, but others emphasize alternative history the most. I am sure its amorphousness is part of why it is so hard to pin down the real number of fans 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      August 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

  6. I can see why one would indeed feel like there is a lull on the Internet. I agree that lots of great sites are either dead or dying. This sentiment is frequently echoed over at The Steampunk Empire (a social media platform specifically for steampunkers), but I agree that literature is thriving, just in sheer volume. And one of the 2016 Hugo nominees for novel of the year was a steampunk book, which indicates that a large part of the con-crowd is still into it.

    I also find it in odd places, such as a (small) guild dedicated to steampunk on the productivity site, Habitica, of all places. It pops up in places when I’m not even looking for it. I think the interest is there, it’s just… Like Steve Turnbull said in response to your review of Arachnodactyl steampunk is growing up. It’s changing, evolving. And as we, in Western culture, exit the Industrial Age and enter into the Technology Age, I think we will spend much time rehashing the dawn of the Industrial Age as we search for a new cultural identity in the Technology Age, and that is why steampunk will not go away any time soon.

    Like

    August 29, 2016 at 6:48 pm

  7. Steampunk is as dead as Apple is doomed, in other words it’s alive and well. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a bunch of movies set in the Victorian era every few years and then nothing, it would be interesting to see how that compares to the ups and downs of Steampunk’s popularity.

    Like

    August 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

  8. I think it’s finally going mainstream really. I work for costume store and two major costume manufacturers now make packaged costumes and accessories. I’m a vendor this weekend at the Big River Steampunk Festival in Hannibal, MO. I know so many people from my home town of St. Louis that are going. And this one is FREE. You only pay for “premium” events. I went last year and it was a blast.

    I’d be delighted if you’d want to review my works. My Amazon link is attached but I’d be happy to send you paperbacks. Great article!

    Liked by 2 people

    August 30, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    • That’s interesting about the costumes. I’d seen a few patterns but not ready-made costumes in stores. I’m not seeing an Amazon link for some reason, but you can email me at forwhomthegearturns@gmail.com about a possible review 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Like

      August 31, 2016 at 7:46 am

    • Hey, Victoria! I’m going to be at Big River too. It’s my first time attending and I’m really excited about the idea. (also a huge Mark Twain and “Unsinkable Molly” fan) Hope I get to see you there! I’ll be at the Red Dog Press booth (135).

      Liked by 1 person

      August 31, 2016 at 8:42 am

  9. I see the steampunk aesthetic all over the place and in very mainstream places. I have more steampunk novels on my Kindle that I haven’t gotten to, and people seem to perk up when I say I write a steampunk series more often than they ask me what that means. So, yes, rumors of its death appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

    Reminds me, I should ask you for a review at some point. I’m bringing out the 4th in The Steamship Chronicles this week (God willing and the creek don’t rise). It’s a bit sideways from traditional steampunk, but I think that’s part of the beauty of it. The genre has room to grow and stories to tell that haven’t been reached yet.

    Maybe traditional publishing has grown bored of it? They seem to declare things dead all the time when there are loyal followers demanding more books.

    Liked by 2 people

    August 31, 2016 at 12:04 am

    • I love sideways Steampunk 🙂 Feel free to email me about a possible review at forwhomthegearturns@gmail.com. I’m glad to hear from so many people who think Steampunk is alive and well, even if my own stats are down. I guess I’ve got to double down on getting the word out about this blog!

      Like

      August 31, 2016 at 7:49 am

      • Fantastic :). I’ll send a note as soon as I get a moment.

        And this year’s stats might be low because of the US political focus and same with the UK. You may find an upsurge once in all dies down.

        Liked by 1 person

        August 31, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      • Interesting thought. I hadn’t considered that 🙂

        Like

        September 1, 2016 at 8:46 am

  10. Pingback: Steampunk Book Review: Toru – The Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen | For Whom the Gear Turns

  11. Lopus Magnum

    Many private websites are closing down because of the pest that is facebook!

    Like

    September 12, 2016 at 10:29 am

    • Interesting point. Personally, I see Facebook as a way to share my website more widely rather than as competition because anyone can post anything on FB, but if I join interest groups I can target my sharing. But it can certainly act as a distraction!

      Like

      September 12, 2016 at 11:02 am

  12. Well I hope Steampunk ain’t dead, I just got here 😦 I’d like at least some sort of a community. Seriously, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. The elements have been bubbling in the public sphere for some time. I think since Steampunk now has reality TV programmes, that’s basically a mark of permanency. Our culture loves that there reality TV. I wouldn’t worry too much of mainstream storytelling, though. It changes with the winds, and all because the winds change, doesn’t mean the ship that sailing with them changes. I hope that makes sense. I’m a wee bit tired.

    Like

    October 14, 2016 at 7:17 am

    • I started to wonder just yesterday if perhaps the dip in my stats has to do with it being an election year. People have a lot of other things pulling their focus from their hobbies. So fingers crossed stuff starts looking up again by December 🙂

      Like

      October 14, 2016 at 7:21 am

  13. If anything, it appears that Steampunk has become mainstream and that is scaring off some of the old-school folks who loved its alternative nature. A few years ago nobody really know what Steampunk was, but now they can at least picture the aesthetic. You know when a reality show exists in a certain genre, it has become mainstream. It’s what everyone hopes for and then when it happens to a small subculture, a lot of folks freak out and go for the next underground scene.

    Like

    October 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    • I agree, I have been pleasantly surprised how often I tell someone I am a Steampunk writer and they already know what I mean. Since writing this article, I’ve started to wonder if the drop in my stats has more to do with the election and nothing to do with Steampunk itself. People are just busy reading other things right now, but hopefully I’ll see it pick up again by Thanksgiving 🙂

      Like

      October 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

  14. Reblogged this on STEAMPUNKAPOTAMUS! and commented:
    Reblogged.

    Like

    November 12, 2016 at 8:04 am

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