SF at CSUF SPOTLIGHT: Steampunk

This is an invitation to take a closer look at our Steampunk section…STEAMPUNK ORIGINS. Our focus here is on Steampunk as a sub genre of sf whose origin is deeply involved with our university. A group of our university’s alums, Tim Powers, James Blaylock and KW Jeter, coined the term when they were young writers looking, tongue-in-cheek, to give a collective name to their gonzo-historical-sf-fantasies. One of the wonderful questions of all this is why a sub genre so tied up centrally with fog-bound Victorian London appears in sunny, suburban Orange County, Southern California, in the late 20th century? One important answer is: I have no idea! But I notice that one can look at 19th century Britain and 20th century America and see a comparison in their power and scope on the world stage…and the attendant questions about the moral use of that power. And our modern relationship to technology is developed in the 19th century as the Industrial Revolution gains steam (yes, yes, intended)–we feel like cogs in a machine. Cyberpunk responded to our modern technological revolution as the computer took the cultural stage, and steampunk looks at an earlier iteration of the problem of rapid change…and perhaps that is part of our interest in the genre? Look around our site to see a focused view into the issues.

Look at the interview with James Blaylock…we will soon put up a related interview with KW Jeter…and a video interview with Tim Powers..stay tuned for those this Summer. Look at the research compiled by our staff that tries to identify the shifting sense of what Steampunk is, where it came from, and about how to write it. And read stories from CSUF students in our first issue of STARTLING STEAMPUNK STORIES!, featuring work by graduate students who also selected and edited collection work by undergraduates from my Science Fiction course. Check out the link to the Art Department’s recent show of Steampunk art. Let us know what you think!

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