Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Steampunk Genre Split??? Bustlepunk!!!

I read recently that one or two of our women authors want to call their steampunk books "steampunk~bustlepunk" books.  It's interesting enough since most of the time-travel books to this point have been written by men and mostly about men, and the more recent "steampunk" genre was actually born-again by male writers.

Women writers have a huge following...I would think mostly women read their books, but I understand from surveys that a slew of men do, too.   It just galls me that women have to been seen as authors on the up-take on genre such as this, and I tend to think there are two sides to this Bustlepunk issue:

One side is that it's a fabulous name that will by all means draw the female crowd to a genre specific author and book.  There is so  much to say about a story written by a woman, about a woman, for a woman.  That's good fun and good fantasy.  The Bustlepunk tag helps us find those books so readily.  And I love the name as it connotes the clothing, the Victorian timeframe, and the steampunkish genre.  Really, so many pluses to the concept.

However; and secondly, I'm ashamed of it.  And here's why.  I'm a feminist.  It just galls me that we single ourselves out even in literature.  In some ways it sets us apart in a good way (as I mention above), and in another way it continues to mark us as "second best to the male author."  Since a male author first came up with the idea of time-travel; i.e., H. G. Wells, women can only be followers at best.  Since we have gained so much in equality, why give it up now??  By singling ourselves out, we destroy the ideal that authors are all equal in their intelligence and capabilities to confir and express their imaginations and knowledge.  It's a battle women have fought for ages. 

I think of Charlotte Bronte' and sisters who had to publish under such names as Currier Bell.  And of other books like "Middlemarch," written by George Eliot who was Mary Ann Evans;  the Baronne Dudevant otherwise known as the french writer George Sand, mistress to a famous musical genius and author of more than 40 books and plays, and, did you know that J.K.Rowling used that name because she didn't want anyone to identify her as a woman writer only in writing the "Harry Potter" series?  

There are many more examples of worthy and famous women writers who felt they had/have to hide their identities and genders behind male pseudonyms.  Isak Dinesin, one of my very favorite authors, was actually Karen Blixen and she wrote "Out of Africa."
Another of our childhood beloved authors who did the same male name cover was the author of the "Nancy Drew" series.

On another note:  Have you  noticed that more Steampunk authors are starting to use just first initials and last names?  Wonder if this is a Wells copy thing...or if it's a disguise of male/female gender?  Interesting....

These rights of women authors are something that remain close and clear in my mind and, I'm certain in the minds of those of us who took to the streets, the writing formats and college halls to protest and call for their equality and recognition.  It was time in the 1960's and it's time now to remain steady.  Are we back-tracking?

What do you think?

Your Bookish Steampunk Dame/Deborah


  1. Hey Deb, not seeing any words between the pictures You or Me?

  2. Not supposed to see words between the pics. But, thanks, Steph! :] You're the best.

  3. hi Deb. i love your new blog! i'm always discovering and learning new things from you and about you.


  4. Thanks for your balanced look at this issue, Deborah. I've worried about your concerns as well, though many assure me it's really about your first point - attracting women to books by women about women. As a man who has enjoyed books by women about women, I'm hoping there's a middle path here, that doesn't create a ghetto for writers like Priest, Carriger, et al.