Purists are a Drag


I’ve been a snob (with no good reason). So I’m the kettle and whatnot, I know that. I used to get on a soapbox a bit too often, but I’ve mellowed. Not so much today. A comment on Dear Author’s First Page Caturday got me thinking. Someone said that they were worried that Steampunk Romances would dilute the real steampunk genre into blandness. This is a common theme, for sure. Romances will pollute the real genre. I’ve never, ever understood the logic of this. First, the Venn Diagram of romance, fantasy, and scifi readers (which would include steampunk in the mix) probably has a somewhat narrow overlap lens. Romance is by far the largest market in the mix. By far. Now what can romance in a steampunk actually do to hurt the Vandermeers of the world? Only drive folks to the “hard science” books, if romance authors are so inclined to venture there. This can’t be a bad thing for the non-romance authors. The “hardcore” steampunk types will be unlikely to read, for example, my Steamside Chronicles, given the cover and my warning that it is not widget laden.

This fear of infiltration by romance is not a new thing, nor are romance authors immune to similar fears. The ones I’ve read are:
Real Scifi has no room for romance (Heather at the Galaxy Express has addressed this a lot)
Fantasy romances are watered down drivel
Romances are only for women who want to read about women and men
Erotic romance will give romance a bad name (okay, I’ve said that before)
Urban fantasy is another name for “can’t write fantasy”
Add yours–I know I’m missing some.

I think one of the issues driving this is that very few people (still) can imagine an empowered female protagonist (and I don’t mean one that has to be a bitch and use profanity to get respect) of a scifi or fantasy who has romantic feelings for another character. A romance is a work in which the relationship drives the plot. There can be subplots. Those can be cool, and can be in any genre, in any setting.

I’m about to review a few such titles that are romances, and at the same time, very cool steampunk or fantasy works. It’s a LOT to build a convincing romance and do the worldbuilding and subplots for a scifi or fantasy setting. A LOT of work. And if I can’t convince you, then simply don’t pick up a romance. But trust me, it’s not going to eat up your beloved pure steampunk book. They don’t have teeth. Your pure work is safe in the bookstore, virtual or otherwise.

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3 thoughts on “Purists are a Drag

  1. Thanks for the linky!

    Ciar, I agree with your comment at DA that hybrid stories like steampunk romance represent evolution, not dilution. Steampunk will stay in the ghetto if authors avoid adding flavors like mystery, romance, and action/adventure. Come to think of it, some steampunk stories–like George Mann’s THE AFFINITY BRIDGE–have heaping helpings of mystery, and I don’t hear anyone complaining (there’s a little romance in THE AFFINITY BRIDGE, too!). So frankly, I don’t see a concern about dilution with romance, either.

    When writing hybrid stories, it helps if authors are well read in both genres, and choose effective scopes for their tales.

  2. ciarcullen says:

    What you said, Heather. Can I pay you to write what I meant to say from now on??? Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Jody W. says:

    Oooh, I hadn’t heard the one about urban fantasy! Sort of like teachers teach because they can’t do? I need to get an acct that cooperates with your Steamside Chronicles.

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