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Is steampunk a subgenre of science fiction?
I have not read much in the way of recent steampunk offerings. However, I have discussed this with some who do to understand that there is a problem along this line.
In the time travel reading world, there have been stories in the SF and Fantasy genres. The SF versions usually try to have a self-consistent model of time travel and probably an explanation to rationalize it. Fantasy is more likely to have something magical or unexplained to cause a "time slip." The tropes in this field are so established that romance and children's writers feel that no explanation is required and they can bring two people together from disperate times without explanation and move on to the story with whatever level of culture shock they wish to introduce.
A presentation I saw last year at a steampunk convention tried to define what fits in the context of the literature (costuming is a whole different part and a very popular one here). For example, the presenter tried to make a distinction between "gaslight romances" (stories set in a Victorian era, real or alternate history) and the "punk" element of steampunk including some kind of social commentary (e.g. gender and Colonialism representations of the past or alternate past are critiqued in the story). I don't know that his definition is a widely held one but I pass it out in case it resonates with others.
I haven't read much of steampunk literature that moves away from science fiction (like steampunk romance) and this may be one of the reasons for my question.
Your thoughts and experience helped a lot my thought progression in this matter.
Not sure I could define it much better than above. And most of it is thought Sci Fi because usually there is some tech added to older times. Although I admit I'm not all that sanguine about making that necessarily define something as 'sci fi' as opposed to alt history or even fantasy given more obvious elements of the world described.
Steampunk H. G. Wells
The Poe one includes stories like "The Balloon Hoax", his answer to "The Moon Hoax" from the NY Sun in the 1830s.
I like it when obscure Victorian and Edwardian stories are found with steampunk qualities and so collected and presented (with or without illustrations).
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