There's a lot of talk about "steampunk" lately. It's not a new subgenre but it's pretty new to romance readers. If you want to read a great example, check out Meljean Brook's new steampunk series, The Iron Duke.
However, some pure SF/Fantasy writers and readers, familiar with steampunk, are up in arms about another possible new invasion into their territory. They're already somewhat threatened (okay, disgusted) at all the romantic sparkly porn ruining the greatest bloodsucker monster of all time and what's more, it's always some tattooed hot chick in leather with a sword on the cover and they miss those covers that had Conanbod swinging a sword over the head of a kneeling warrior woman wearing only boop armor plates and groin tassles. I know, right?
In fact, Charles Stross was quite vitriolic about it, calling for the death of steampunk. Of course, he also hated the glut of vampire romance, calling them "paranormal romance fang fuckers bodice rippers with vamp(ires)." He's a bit (okay, very) miffed that, instead of riffing more realistic stuff from the Victorian age, like poverty, child labor and Marxism, this new trend is all about, oh-God-forbid, aristocrats having tea in their airships and, oh-how-unbelievable, zombies. I mean, zombies during a Victorian-age SF/Fantasy subgenre, horrors! I know, right? (yes, I've been watching too much Craig Ferguson monologues)
There was much hate on the zombie and its unplausible existence on that blog entry and its comments, and of course, Cherie Priest's excellent Boneshaker came up as an example of this blasphemy. To which, Ms. Priest reacted with awesome Victorian shock on her blog:
A Zombie Lament
OMG YOU GUYS it has come to my attention that SOMEONE on the internet is saying that my fictional 19th century zombies are NOT SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND. Naturally, I am crushed. To think, IF ONLY I’d consulted with a zombologist or two before sitting down to write, I could’ve avoided ALL THIS EMBARRASSMENT.
So, they fear the coming of the Steampunk Romance, eh?
Mrs. Giggles asked "What will the generic steampunk tropes be like?" I had fun riffing off over there one morning, at that time not knowing about the screamage going on against zombies and steampunk romance in the Net, but after reading Stross' entry (and the comments), I just had to cut and paste my examples here. Because I had zombies AND aristocrats drinking tea. I did not know that kind of riffing wasn't allowed ;-).
So, here are my entries. I leave the hot cover maidens to you. I've a feeling the purists are going to protest about hard hot male bods (check out Meljean's Iron Duke cover) sitting side-by-side with the hot tattooed leathered females.
1) Marriage of convenience: heroine heiress is kidnapped and taken on airship where hero ties her up with nanochains ;-).
2) Egypt, the new frontier. There is something going on within the new archaelogical finds and the mummies--oh no, they're actually zombies! And the heroine is wanted because her blood is speshul. Hero is a scientists that practice fencing 10 hours a day; other 10 is spent finding a cure for infectious mummian-bytes.
3) Heroine is a French spy. Hero is a British spy. They have to work together to find out about these new machines that have Intelligence that will destroy the world as we know it. Ideological differences ensue but passion will save the day. Secondary character -- a short machine that's powered by water/steam that keeps running around, waving its arms, screaming "Danger! Danger!" Big Bad: the sell out evil Mr. Smithe, of course.
4) There is a new spice in India and the British-Indian Spice Company is determined to be the main distributor. This spice gives special abilities to special people; the government in control of the spice will control the world. Hero Duke of Muadib is sent to India to check out/work on the machines and to charm the sect who lives among the spices, who fight them while riding deadly zombiebytes, and he meets up with the princess of the sect, a tall, tattoed mysterious bald woman named Five-of-Twenty.
5) There is an super-airway pirate robbing the rich travelers! They snatch magnificent jewels for the poor! The hero-duke is robbed and deuce it, he will find this arrogant man who dared to touch his privates while looking for hidden pockets! M/M and steam punk--this is going to be good!
Would love to read your riffs. Mummy-zombies and romance. I know, right?
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