What is it not Wednesday, Jun 29 2011 

We have just gone over what Steampunk  is but what is not steampunk

Here is the problem, just by saying “ this is not steampunk” it makes you not steampunk. We hate to admit that something that someone calls steampunk is not. We hate to judge but in a subculture there has to be an us and them. But we hate to say that there is as us and them. In my head I split them up into categories Those who don’t know what steampunk is: This group is are full of people who just don’t know that steampunk is about , they don’t research what it means to be a steampunk. I was at a pop culture convention where I was asked to round up some people for a talk about steampunk in the media. I walked up on a couple lying on the floor and told them to come to a steampunk lecture. Their reaction was “what is steampunk?”… really but you are…. Really. There is also the group that just does not understand that it is not just one opinion, usually they are looking at one particular group that is totally wrong and is a great segue to my next group. Steampunk is not just a fashion, aesthetic, writing, art, a way of acting, it is a creative state of mind where you take modern things and make them more interesting and more creative. Those who are just in for the money: There is a very popular group that controls most of the newcomers opinion of what steampunk is, they are much more Neo-Victorian then steampunk. Unfortunately this group is much more into making money off of their image. They play favorites and don’t care about if they do good work. Now another example of this I saw at a event. It was a vendor selling those cheep pre-packaged plastic costumes you find at Halloween stores. Now unless you are planning to modify them I suggest you stay away from these stores. Here I am sure you are thinking hypocrite, you make costumes and sell them. I would prefer for a person to have an idea about what they want and then just have me build it, rather than buying something generic off the rack. I have no problem talking to a person that has a general idea and wants to make it more concrete. The ready to wear things that I make are one of a kind and ideas that come to my head and I need to get them out.

Problem and solution Monday, Jun 20 2011 

we had a problem with my last writer about Post Apoc. there will eventually be a article to finish this set but you will just have to wait. Also to my shame I don’t have anything to post today. I will work on it tonight and post it tomorrow. We do have one person that gave me his view of steampunk so we can let you look at that.

I have to add to the line about COMMUNITY. It’s the Community that adds the greatest amount of pleasure and wonder to my experience…and the fact that I will refuse to accept any rules on just what IS Steampunk.
I too am a product of the 1950′s and 1960′s. I grew up under the growth of the Civil Rights Movement, and the expansion of the protest against the power of Government and it’s controls for false purposes…which lately seems to be growing as many weak-kneed types clamor for assurance that ‘this can all stop’, that their world is changing too fast, and in uncomfortable ways.

It is the unending variety in Steampunk that makes it work for me. I frankly do not have a great deal of imagination in some respects (my Genius is weak in areas), and rely on others for ideas and inspiration.

I also approve of the general air of GENTILITY among Steampunks, as Courtesy is the Lubricant of Society. Courtesy costs nothing, and assures less social friction…although there ARE some out there that insist in having the world ‘Their Way’.
To that end I encourage a bit more Anarchy, and let them wander about confused…it’s good for ‘em.
As I have commented before, even the Villains I have encountered have been polite (“I’m sorry Miss, but I really must lash you to the tracks now…the 3:45 is due and I don’t want to be late.”). It’s this and other things that encourage me.

And it’s the ability of others. I have taught, and learned form, Steampunks of all ages.
The Sheer WEIGHT of ingenuity that is represented continues to stagger me.

So YES, ask 100 Steampunks what it means, and you will get 100 different answers.
It also follows that you ask THIS Steampunk what it is 100 times, and I will probably give you 100 different answers.

Age means NOTHING to me in Steampunk. It is the OPPORTUNITY to engage that is the thing. I see people of all ages, pre-teen to doddering oldster joining in the Movement, and know they are all learning, teaching, being part of it.
PHYSICAL ABILITY means nothing in Steampunk. Wheelchair-bound or stuck at home on the computer, all are part of the Whole.
The only thing age brings to me is a defined character/sense of self, and experience in some Worldly matters. However, the wisdom of age also tells me that I have not experience it all, that much is happening/has happened without my knowing, and my sense of wonder keeps me reaching.
“Wisdom comes from Experience. Experience comes from Lack of Wisdom.”

A recent television show on the so-called “Warrior Gene” shows that while Heredity does have an effect, it also shows that Environment and CHOICE is just as great, if not greater, an influence.
This is why I am here.

Yours Grimm

View as a Dieselpunk Monday, Jun 13 2011 

While most people have heard of Steampunk, far fewer have heard of Dieselpunk. Initially coined in the game Children of the Sun, it has come to represent the time period of the 1920’s through the 1950’s, while including anachronistic aspects as well. It draws inspiration from Art Deco architecture, noir detective stories, and pulp magazines, amongst other things.

Based both between and during the two World Wars, it reflects a change in sensibility from the Victorian Era. While technology was ever evolving, it was now shifting into more of a destructive and nihilistic time. Many of the greatest inventions of the time were the result of military research, creating ever more varied ways of killing others.  It is a much darker and dirtier time period, with other large events such as the Great Depression causing large amounts of suffering across the world.

This topic has primarily been my interest, since I was little and before I even knew what Dieselpunk was. I have always been fascinated by the World Wars, from the generals who led them to the soldiers in the trenches fighting. The machines of war, created with the sole purpose of destroying the enemy’s machines, also were amazing to me, given their complexity and destructive capability. The ideas fostered in this era, of honor, loyalty and patriotism have interested me greatly, and are what initially brought me into Steampunk, and then to Dieselpunk.

Dieselpunk is not only restricted to the grim portions of this time period, however. There are bright spots as well, from the Roaring Twenties, with flappers redefining womanhood, the explosion of jazz music, and the flourishing of Art Deco Architecture, to the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. It was a time of prosperity, and a time when people began to cast off the traditions of the past century and began to embrace technology, with the radio, automobile and moving pictures beginning to take a larger hold in the average citizen’s lives.

Many Dieselpunks find inspiration in the amazing vehicles that began to appear during this time period. From the oil-burning locomotives, to the majestic ocean liners like the Titanic, all of these things were what helped foster my interest in this time period. Paired with this, the architecture of the time period was also shifting, away from the Victorian Era and embracing the smooth flowing lines of Art Deco. The rise of the skyscraper established this esthetic, and can still be seen today in cities like New York, where buildings like the Chrysler building and Rockefeller Center display their heavy Art Deco influence.

While the technology of Dieselpunk encompasses much of the same types of things as Steampunk, it also expands it with things like the internal combustion engine and electric power. Things like the airliner, wireless radio, and armored vehicles helped to shape the world in dramatic ways. Often Dieselpunk delves into weird technology, taking strange weapons designs that were never used and making them integral parts of alternate history worlds. What if German jet aircraft had been focused on? Would that have won them the war? What about their focus on super tanks? Could they have used their resources better, to create different, more efficient machines?

All of these questions and more fall under the umbrella of Dieselpunk, and often are answered in interesting ways. One of my favorite series, Harry Turtledove’s Timeline 191. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_191 A fairly large portion of the series focuses on an alternate universe version of the United States, where the South won the Civil War and now America has been split in two. As war begins to break out in Europe, it spreads to America, for another war between the states. The series follows through the Second World War, with a character analogous to Hitler arises in the South, and it parallels much of the actual war in Europe. These types of stories, alternate history or speculative history, are some of my favorites to read and fall neatly within the Dieselpunk aesthetic.

If you are interested in learning more about what Dieselpunk is, please check out the website here: www.dieselpunks.org. Created by the awesome Tome Wilson, it has numerous articles on different aspects of Dieselpunk and forums for discussion.

All things being equal Tuesday, Jun 7 2011 


 by Michael Salerno

If you are Steampunk you’ve probably already heard it said:  ‘If you asked 100 Steampunks to define “Steampunk” you’d get 100 different answers.’  Probably true;  everyone does seem to have their own take on it. But a new twist on that query recently lobbed in my direction got me to wondering.  The question was this:

“What does Steampunk mean to you being an older person?”

After first recovering (slowly) from the shock of being called ‘an older person’ I found that one question had set off, in my mind, a string of others:    Is there some sort of age segmentation in Steampunk?  Am I really so different because I’m “older”? Does someone’s age define how they view the subculture?   How would those 100 different answers break down if they were compared by age group? Would the 17 and under crowd deliver similar answers?  Would the 18 to 25 demographic share traits and would they be significantly different from the 26 to 39 crowd?   Most importantly: Would my peer group, the 40 and older Steampunks, find some unifying commonality in our definition?

I say the answer is a resounding  yes… and no.

Yes there will be similarities in the answers based on age.  The times in which we are raised have a deep and lasting effect on the way we see the world. As a ‘child of the sixties’ I will share the common experiences that shaped the lives and perceptions of others of that generation regardless of our birthplace; just as the children 70’s, 80’ and 90’s will.

But No, the answers won’t be the same.  Geographic origins, the places in which we are raised, have a tremendous impact on who we are and how we see the world.  Those of us raised in the Northeast  will have a different view of things from those raised in the deep south or the Midwest .  (That of course is just looking at things from a U.S point of view.  Imagine the differences from a global perspective.)

We are all so very different how could our answers ever be the same? Each one of us seems to have a personal definition of Steampunk.  And yet, despite all the differences deeply embedded in us by our birthplaces and our upbringings and yes, even our ages, it’s not the brass gears or fancy clothes or amazing inventions that ties us together as Steampunks,  it is the community.

So, what DOES Steampunk mean to me being an older person?   Equality.

Growing up in the 1960s we were taught to treat everyone as equals.  The age of discrimination was coming to an end -we were all brothers and sisters in the same big family.  If we treat each other that way the future will be a better place.  While I have tried throughout my life to live this way and teach these values to my kids, we live in a world where that promise has failed to materialize.  Being a white male I have never known what it means to be discriminated against, to be treated poorly because of my sex or skin color or faith.  But I still see people being judged and separated into groups based on age, skin color, sex, nationality…  Except in the Steampunk community.

I’ve seen Steampunks from pre-toddler to senior citizens and every walk of life all welcomed into the community.  Steampunk, to me, IS the great equalizer – it is unique as a subculture in that it freely embraces all and with equal enthusiasm.   An individual’s race, age, nationality, sexual orientation,  disability are not used to set people aside but are included, accepted, embraced and enfolded , wrapped in the great blanket of Steampunk,  enriching our community.  I have friends here, who, had it not been for Steampunk, I would never have met and I am a better person for knowing them.  Old, Young, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Gay, Straight, Bi, Trans, Black, Indian, White, Native, Asian, all come together as Steampunks first; each one bringing something more to the community, sharing the new common experience, teaching and learning from each other.   Here, in the community I am not simply an older white guy  who happens to be Steampunk… I am a Steampunk first, just like everyone else; an equal.  Out of many, we are one

E pluribus unum, indeed.