Ask an International Guy of Mystery
I was wondering if you could tell me about a type of book, or genre I guess, called Steampunk. I was riding the Greyhound home to Baker City from a Star Trek convention in Vegas, dressed as Brunt (who as you know is a liquidator with Ferengi Commerce and doesn't like idle talk) when this guy boards in Greeley (how we ended up going through Northern Colorado still baffles me) and tells me I would love reading Steampunk. I told him I was only interested in supplanting Grand Negus Zek, which made him clam up. So, is there such a type of literature called Steampunk?
Baffled in Baker, Oregon
Yes, I have heard that there is a literary sub-genre called Steampunk, and there are two logical descriptions. One would be mystery novels where annoying little punks, like Macaulay Culkin, get people very angry or steamed up (think Home Alone). The other would be about the punk subculture, people with Mohawks and dog chains, having lots of steamy sex (think Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols, but don't think about the sex acts because they would likely involve bondage and sadism). I had a similar encounter with a stranger on a train who pulled my leg, trying to convince me that Steampunk was a type of science fiction based on 19th Century technology. I almost told him that, since there were no punks nor much sex in the 19th Century, and since (hello!) science fiction is about the future, not the past, his story made no sense, but he was dressed like a space alien with pointed ears, and I didn't want to rile him. I did titter a bit behind my train schedule, though.