At some point I want to write a proper piece about my issues with steampunk and the way it often ignores the incredibly complex, usually deeply horrendous realities of the 19th Century in favour of some kind of exotified London or Wild West with gears! and cogs! and steam! and not a whole lot of engagement with issues like sexism, imperialism, the attempted eradication of the Native peoples of North America, and so on.
But I’m really busy at the moment, so here’s a link to one specific thing that I saw today.
Take a read of those anthology guidelines. Pay particular attention this line:
“they want to see Victorian globetrotting adventurers and wild technologies in the Wild West.”
1) Victorian. Globetrotting. Adventurers.
Well, that’s a new way of describing explorers who at best unintentionally – and at worst, and far more often, very intentionally – brought with them the forces of colonialism and imperialism to vast swathes of the world. Look, you cannot talk about the “romance” of exploration without talking about colonialism – they are far too tangled up to pretend otherwise.
2) The Wild West is this whole area of steampunk that I side-eye like whoa because do you know what was happening in the “frontiers” of North America in this era? Do you know about how the Native peoples of the continent were being systematically robbed of their lands and murdered? Wild West fiction seems to be about how these white people had all these exciting adventures in a big open landscape conveniently empty of Native peoples, and that’s fucking gross.
Steampunk has this awesome potential to tear apart the 19th Century and examine its dirty innards – and re-arrange them in new ways – but things like this remind me of why I don’t actually read much steampunk.
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Aliens: Recent Encounters
"...this [anthology] blew us away more than any other. Mostly because of the sheer volume of greatness contained in these 32 stories... These are classic stories of alien encounters, from some of the best science fiction writers working today."
- io9.com Best Books of 2013
Coming in 2014
The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women
I will be editing an anthology of powerful, important science fiction stories by women, showcasing the unforgettable contributions made to the genre in recent decades.
Out in late 2014.
Post-Binary Gender in SF
- Kathleen Alcala on CALL FOR REPRINT SUBMISSIONS: Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women
- Patricia on White-centric SF: people still take that seriously?
- TedWest on Women Without Men: A Constantly Undermined Trope
- Crystal Lynn Hilbert on CALL FOR REPRINT SUBMISSIONS: Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women
- Alex Dally MacFarlane on CALL FOR REPRINT SUBMISSIONS: Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women