September 9, 2009

Is Steampunk Dead?

Victorian costumes, airships, steam engines, bizarre old yet modern weapons, fueled by a little magic or Æther... The awesome Steampunk subculture has been a part of my life since I played my first Myst game on PC and I watched The City of Lost Children wide eyed.

Steampunk movies like Sleepy Hollow, City of Lost Children, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Army of Darkness (although more Dieselpunk) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have always been some of my favorite movies. I am a member of steampunk groups on SecondLife, I read steampunk books, watch steampunk anime (Steamboy), play steampunk games (Myst / Riven, Thief, Final Fantasy) and now recently I have started making my own weapons, jewelry and costumes (for Halloween this year), (yes, I am a nerd).

The Rumors

Something has been worrying me. I hear rumors that Steampunk is dead. Internet forums, blogs like Gizmodo and other naysayers are announcing the death of steampunk. Their reasons... you can only make so many modified weapons, tea kettles, and "steampunkified" normal everyday gadgets for one lifetime.

But, gadgets are only a small part of the sub-culture. Alternate history, costumes, games, fiction books and writing, and Internet steampunk culture (like groups on SecondLife, blogs, and forums) continue to thrive and inspire new creative works. The most recent being a new book by George Mann called The Affinity Bridge (thanks to my friend Sara for the heads up) which was just released last month (July 9th, 2009).

The Evidence

There are also a few new steampunk style movies that have been released recently. Most notable are the 2007 adaptation of Neil Gaiman's book Stardust, The Golden Compass, the adaptation of Jeanne DuPrau's teen books City of Ember and most recently Focus Feature's "9" in which a group of sapient rag dolls, living a post-apocalyptic existence find one of their own, 9 (Elijah Wood), who displays leadership qualities that may help them to survive.

The uberpopular handmade craft selling site Etsy is also full of steampunk art, jewelry and creations that are very popular and sell on a regular basis. I also see steampunk art seeping into mixed media conventional art pieces, photography and mainstream jewelry.

So to all of you naysayers (I just like that word), I say Nay! Don your goggles, fire up the airship! Steampunk is not dead!

Disagree? Leave me a comment...