If you like to read and have been more than bewildered by the sub-genres that have spawned off of sub-genres, go read Charlie Stross’ rant on Steampunk* – The hard edge of empire.
It is a good and glorious essay/rant:
We’ve been at this point before with other sub-genres, with cyberpunk and, more recently,
paranormal romance fang fuckers bodice rippers with vamp-Sparkly Vampyres in Lurve: it’s poised on the edge of over-exposure. Maybe it’s on its way to becoming a new sub-genre, or even a new shelf category in the bookstores. But in the meantime, it’s over-blown. The category is filling up with trashy, derivative junk and also with good authors who damn well ought to know better than to jump on a bandwagon. (Take it from one whose first novel got the ‘S’-word pinned on it — singularity — back when that was hot: if you’re lucky, your career will last long enough that you live to regret it.) Harumph, young folks today, get off my lawn ….
I am not a big fan of Steampunk the sub-culture, as I have only seen it in the late stages of its decline – the point where it is a fashion/identity sub-culture**. As for Steampunk the literary sub-genre, I have only read one novel that even has a bit of steampunk in it, of which the book was a tongue-in-cheek bit of romance-vampyre-regency-werewolf-steampunk-victorian-humor fluff of the best read it in three hours sort.
But then again, that is how I find myself reading many genres of fiction, I start off reading the humorous parody novels, get curious, and then start reading the ‘real’ books in the genre, which is not a bad way to find books to read.
All that to say, go read Charlie’s The hard edge of empire.
* Steampunk is a sub-genre mashup of SF/Fantasy, time anachronisms, Industrial Revolution dystopia/utopia, and sometimes with the addition of either the historical Romance and/or Vampyres & Zombies genres.
** Now as a person who has participated, with joyful abandon, in several fashion/identity/music sub-cultures, I will not condemn the folks who are having fun living the steampunk life, I am merely stating that it is not my thing (too much brown, sepia, and finicky metal bits).