Caren Gussoff writes urban science fantasy, whatever that is. She’s also co-founder of Brain Harvest: An Almanac of Speculative Fiction. She lives in Seattle with her husband, the SFF artist Chris Sumption, and their two cats, Molly Bloom and Paul Atriedes.
I’ve been thinking about steampunk lately.
I haven’t been able to escape it, reallyâ€”it was steampunk month at Tor. Two weekends ago, my hometown hosted its first SteamCon. And now, tonight, I am going to hear VanderMeer* (who, as you know, Bob, hasÂ been an influential cog in the steampunk editing machine) himself read with Cat Rambo (a fine fantasy writer who integrates elements of steampunk in her fiction) and Cherie Priest (whose steampunk novel, Boneshaker, has made it onto everyone and everything’s â€œmust readâ€ lists).
In fact, it seems like all of you have been thinking about steampunk quite a bit and that no one’s been able to escapeâ€”there are even web pages dedicated to propelling, um, naughty adult toys with Tesla turbines (seriously. Just Google it, if you dare).
This had led me to wonder what’s next.
Steampunk has probably passed well beyond any coolness statute of limitations (should there ever exist a thing, and far be it for me to access coolness, really), but I’m type of woman who remembers the Hindenburg, knows the Nautilus was propelled by electricity, and abhors corsetry. I’m anxiously awaiting the next big punking.
There’s been some quiet, interesting work in clockpunk and I know a few good writers who are pushing greenpunk. Allow me to propose a relatively untouched sub genre: plaguepunk. While potential, future plagues are the staff of SFF, alternate medieval histories are undeclared territory, unless, of course, you count The Doomsday Book, which squarely saints Connie Willis as its patron saint. Now, I’m only half-serious, and I know that the death of 25 million within a 5 year span is poor fodder for a half-baked comedy stick, but think about it–the loss of that large of a percent of the population in such a short time seems like a historical pivot point where you know things could have gone really, really differently. Sure, plaguepunk costuming wouldn’t be as fun as steampunkâ€”tunics, doublets, and latex buboes, anyone?–but there were underestimated scientific strides being made within monastery walls and in agrarian technology (girl’s gotta eat).
You read about it here first, right here on Ecstatic Days.
Anyway, I’d like to hear from you now. What do you think (or wish or joke) will be the next big alt-history punk craze?
*I’ll say hi to him from you!