Steampunk Isn’t Science Fiction

I’m a person who needs a “why” for everything I do.

From my choice of breakfast cereal, to my next career move, I’m always recalibrating action to match  intention. Once I know it, I can own it.

Yet somehow, I’ve never really known why I do steampunk. I got into the genre for Victorian opulence and a fresh take on science fiction. But how did that suddenly translate into dressing up, frequenting events, and reinventing my whole persona?

At TeslaCon, I finally found my answer.

I admit, I had hoped to find answers in this melting pot of retroisms. So I made the rounds to panels. Chatted with well-costumed compatriots. Perused the dealer’s room and enjoyed fantastic(al) inventions at the Promethean Science Fair. When Sunday rolled around, I still hadn’t found my answer.

But then came Closing Ceremonies.

And as he does every year, flamboyant Lord Bobbins, Master of TeslaCon, climbed his lofty podium to address the crowd. He praised the fandom and spoke to its future. Then he swept his hand across the room.

“Look around,” he challenged. “You won’t find anyone here in a licensed costume. We steampunks don’t owe Lucasfilm a thing. We aren’t beholden to the creators of our fandom, because we made it ourselves.”

That statement stopped me cold.

Sitting here with me in a Madison, WI, hotel were 1,200 other individuals who had exercised their own imaginations — not to argue, defend, or imitate someone else’s creation, but to craft their own.

Suddenly, I realized that steampunk is not about the past at all.

It’s about the future.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a future that’s disposable, prepackaged, or sold with someone else’s trademark.

I want a future that’s one-of-a-kind, made with purpose, reclaiming the cast-offs of yesteryear and transforming them into a tomorrow no one else could foresee.

That’s why I do steampunk.

Why do you?

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