Bustlepunk, Mannerspunk, New Steampunk & Feminine Frivolity (Special Extras)

I tend to not weigh in, Gentle Reader, on the controversial subject of bustlepunk, and prefer to let the experts argue amongst themselves as to whether my books are officially steampunk. It allows those who wish to dismiss them outright as “not really steampunk” (as though by being ridiculous and romantic they have somehow offended). I am a ridiculous type of person and I have spent a lifetime offending people by how I dress, and how I talk, and how I act. I see no reason to write any differently.

Since Soulless came out in 2009 I have obeyed to the letter the old internet adage “do not engage.”

I figure for every 1 negative review I get about 9 positive ones, and in the end that’s better odds then I was getting in my previous career as a professor (actually educating, at best, four out of every 50 students). All that said, I do love that The Steampunk Scholar is fighting the good fight for the aesthetic movement of New Steampunk informing the literary genre.

I suspect I am one of the first New Wave Steampunk authors to have come from the aesthetic movement. That is to say, I loved Victorian literature and Gothic attire, then discovered the steampunk aesthetic, and only much later did I realize there was literature to go with it. My writing is informed by the movement not necessarily by the First Wave Steampunk literature.

The Parasol Protectorate series also struggles for respect within steampunk because it is silly ~ unabashedly frivolous and fun. There is romance. There are caricatures. There is parody and farce. Very few burgeoning literary movements struggling for respect wish to be associated with such things.

I happen to love to laugh. I would rather brighten a reader’s day than depress them. And this ties once more back to the aesthetic movement. I realized in a recent conversation with the League of Steam, that a great deal of what I love about steampunkers is their delightful frivolousness. The top hat that has a teapot rising up about of it. The amazing brass contraption that dispenses . . . blackberry cordial.

Steampunkers like to play with their gadgets, they will spend hours creating the silliest thing, a moustache curler or a teacup holster. Frankly, you can’t get any more Victorian than that. The Victorian’s adored frivolous gadgets.

It is this whimsy, both as an aspect of the actual science of the Victorian Era and the steampunk aesthetic movement, that first drew me to write steampunk. When I began actively researching the genre I was frankly shocked by the lack of whimsy, because I did not realized that the literature and the aesthetic movement were moving along different (all be it converging) paths.

So, a rather serious post, Gentle Reader, from your customarily irreverent author beast. And to settle the issue: steampunk, mannerspunk, or bustlepunk? I will simply sit on the sidelines with my treacle tart and whisper quietly into the abyss . . . teapunk.

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The Steampunk Scholar on Bustlepunk.

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“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
~ Thich Nat Hahn

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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