A post by author/illustrator Philip Reeve caught my attention today, and I’m afraid it’s not because I’m pleased with what he’s been saying.
In a post entitled Atompunk, Mr. Reeve takes note of a recent Guardian article about Steampunk, and pronounces his dislike for the genre. Fine, I say. You don’t like Steampunk. To each their own. Could you perhaps, tell me what it is about Steampunk that bothers you so much? Here’s the introductory paragraph to this entirely inane post:
The Guardian sat up and noticed Steampunk this week . The article itself is so cursory that it’s barely worth reading, but there are a lot of interesting comments, including one by Lyndon Ap Gwynfryn which echoes my own growing doubts: “Steampunk is the stupidest of all subgenres of speculative fiction… To retrospectively associate contemporary Victorian science fiction, which was forward looking and progressive, with a self consciously anachronistic and frivolous genre like steampunk is deeply insulting to great writers like Wells and Verne.“
And then he leaves his opinion at that. He doesn’t bother to expound upon why Steampunk upsets him; he simply lets some person on the internet speak for him. Brilliant. Unfortunately, it appears as though Mr. Reeve has to resort to others to form his opinions for him. Fine, that quality is quite common in our society, though not a trait I hold in high esteem. It’s also not very Punk to have other people think for you.
Mr. Reeve goes on for a while qq-ing about how authors only write Steampunk before deciding that he should make his own punk genre named Atompunk (which, mind you, was around long before he conjured up the term) and that this would be a far more interesting topic to explore than the backwards Steampunk.
Never mind that the very comment he cites as being his reason for being against Steampunk, the notion of retrospection and self-conscious anachronism, could easily be used against his precious idea of Atompunk. He’s certain that his Atompunk concept is so much more worthy of your time and imagination because Atompunk is clearly the metaphor for our own times that Steampunk could never be.
People, this is just stupid. Mr. Reeve’s reasons for disliking Steampunk are ethereal and unintelligent. All “period”-punks from Steam and Diesel to Atomic and Ren are bound together by an anachronistic Retrofuturism. We all have a lot in common. Rather than tear one genre down for the promotion of another, why not stand together as Retrofuturists united by the yesterday of tomorrow that never was?
And please, if you’re going to have an opinion about Steampunk, do try to form one yourself. 😉