We’ve got the introduction to Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, edited by Ann VanderMeer, out on December 1 from Tachyon Publications:
Playfully mashing up the romantic elegance of the Victorian era with whimsically modernized technology, this entertaining and edgy new anthology is the third installment in a bestselling steampunk series. Featuring a renegade collective of writers and artists—from beloved legends to rising talents—the steam-driven past is rebooted and powered by originality, wit, and adventure. Lev Grossman offers a different take on the Six Million Dollar Man who possesses appendages and workings from recycled metal parts, yet remains fully human, resilient, and determined. Catherynne M. Valente explores a new form of parenting within the merging of man and machine while Cherie Priest presents a new, unsettling mode of transportation. Bruce Sterling introduces steampunk’s younger cousin, salvage-punk, while speculating on how cities will be built in the future using preexisting materials and Jeff VanderMeer takes an antisteampunk perspective as a creator must turn his back on an utterly destructive creation. Going beyond the simple realms of corsets and goggles, this engaging collection takes readers on a wild ride through Victoriana and beyond.
“After all, what our world is and can be are more about human imagination than well…anything else. And isn’t that a lot of what steampunk has to say? Imagine! Play! Create! Push past the artificial boundary of time to ask the real questions: What does it mean to be human? What are we going to do with all this technology? How can we create the future we want and need?”
—James H. Carrott (Cultural Historian, 2011)
When Jeff VanderMeer and I published Steampunk (the first book in this series) in 2008, we approached the concept through the literature. At that time we had no idea that an entire subculture had grown up around this form of retro-futurism. We had done a lot of research around the fiction but only briefly delved into film, comics, and other creative endeavors. Then we found Steampunk Magazine, which gave us another view of this fast-growing subculture, attended a Steampunk convention, and soon had a better sense of it all. It’s not surprising that we weren’t more aware, given that it wasn’t until the New York Times article in 2008, the month our anthology was published, that the Steampunk subculture became mainstream.
From there, however, steampunk seemed to go viral. We were even approached for an interview by the Weather Channel. I, being a weather geek, was thrilled for the opportunity but asked the interviewer, why us? Why would the Weather Channel be interested in Steampunk? He answered global warming, alternate energy sources, recycling, DIY thinking. This got me to take an even closer look at what was going on in this subculture.
When we agreed to do the second book in 2010, Steampunk Reloaded, we wanted to show how the fiction of this subgenre had grown and transformed. It had expanded beyond just science fiction featuring the Victorian era, and we were able to include many more alternative Steampunk backgrounds and approaches. Correspondingly, the subculture had also expanded and become more diverse and more international—in a very short period of time.
Which brings me to the volume you hold in your hands.