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Aristophanes Brown is a very new development with a very new character, but in my mind, and the mind of one or two others, is a debate.

Are the short tales of this fellow actually of the steampunk genre, or are they something else?

“Steampunk” you see is a very handy tag to hang around the neck of something. It helps develop you an audience, it’s a hashtag that has some jolly cool associations to go with it, and it makes you feel like you belong to a scene that Lincoln Asylum 2014 certainly confirmed to me was a highly wonderful one.

But when I write, I’m very conscious about some of the obvious tropes of steampunk style and writing, and am very definitely trying to avoid them, sometimes explicitly. There’s no airships of dirigibles, the wearing of goggles described by one character as a daft fad, and there aren’t wholesale displays of tea drinking and dreadnought blunderbuss deployment. It’s strange adventures in a Victorian environment. Not Steampunk.

If anything I feel like some of the gadgetry, for example, is highly influenced by Asimov et al and what I call the “Valvepunk” sci fi of the 1950s transported into the 1890s. I’m a great lover of the “New Worlds” type sci fi short story collections of the 30s to the 50s, where the writers seemed to have imagination to burn.

Ultimately, or course, to me the debate doesn’t matter, and it probably doesn’t to many other people too. Yet I get the impression that there are some “keepers of the flame” that are rather precious about what is and isn’t Steampunk.

But to me, the key thing is to write, and write well. And if you can’t write well, write creatively!

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