I spent part of last weekend in a certain chain bookstore, which just so happens to host the article, and I found several new authors of Steampunk tales with multiple titles each sitting on the shelves waiting to be read. I did consume the sample chapter of one author and immediately found that it would be the next series of books that I will attempt to collect and read vigorously.
It should be mentioned that both series were found within an arm’s reach of each other and that I did not explore too much of the Science Fiction / Fantasy section. So, it seems plausible that there are more Steampunk novels on the shelves. I also spotted Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century books (At least I saw Boneshaker, Dreadnought and Inexplicables.)
No, I do not think that the glory days are over. I think right now we are approaching a glut on the market that usually occurs when a genre spikes in popularity. With the growth in visibility and readership comes an ever growing influx of books, both good and bad. Some are by authors, cynically cashing in on ‘whats hot’ right now. Other works are by writers who care about the story and the craft.
This is the cycle of the written word. It is the same cycle that exists in other media as well. Vampires, Zombies, Girl bands, Boy Bands, Solo Artists, Procedural Crime Dramas. All kinds of genres. Look at how many vampire or zombie themed books hit shelves, and there was a ton of work that was either prematurely released or just outirght awful. But it capitalized on a trend. People made decisions to get things to market, hasty decisions seeking a payout and the eviction of many squirrels from their trees. Ok, maybe not the last part.
I bet they thought about it though.
What I am trying to say is this: There will always be that constant rotation of the ‘it’ item. Steampunk has finally reached a point where people are noticing it, purchasing it, Supporting it. It is Growing, it is becoming part of the culture. A permanent part, and yes its popularity will fade a bit. I consider that time the weeding out. Those trying to milk the cash cow will find the teat dry, but those authors who are committed to writing good fiction, something with a story to tell, a plot to present, those folk will find a bountiful cow. Eww, I think I went too far with the whole cow metaphor there.
…Moving along… I think Steampunk is becoming more established. People are cementing its place in the literary world, and of course expanding the reach into other media (web shows on SyFy), TV, Movies, Music. All of this is a good thing. It means that there will be a market for Steampunk for quite a while. However, it also means that as a writer when you work in the genre, you will have to bring your best work to it. No free pass just because you hopped on the bus at the proper moment.
Thanks for reading folks! Now it’s your turn, let me know what you think: Is Steampunk Over? Head on down to the comments and fire away!