WorthxYes! I am going to do it! I am going to put forth a manifesto, inspired by a very interesting discussion over Steampunk terminology at Serge’s LJ. In that discussion, I very clearly state that I hate the proliferation of “-punks” in our genre. Steampunk, Clockpunk, Splatterpunk, Creampunk (for fiction about edgy alienated dairymen), Beampunk (for fiction about edgy alienated log cabin builders), Reampunk (stories about edgy alienated papermakers) … OK. You get the picture.

So why am I proposing the formation of another “-punk”? Because … well, I don’t know. I guess just because “Bustlepunk” sounds superawesomely cool. And it seems to fit the kind of stuff that writers like Gail Carriger, Cherie Priest, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sherwood Smith, Susan Krinard and many others (myself included) are coming out with these days. Paranormal romantic historical fantasy tinged with the Victorian. There may still be ratchets and gears and clouds of steam, but they are a colorful background to the social dramas played out through fashion, manners and etiquette. There’s still high adventure, skullduggery and intrigue … but it’s just as likely to occur over a tea-table as on a zeppelin.

I’m proudly proclaiming myself a Bustlepunk. A New Weird West Bustlepunk. Just try and stop me.

Who/what else should be classified as Bustlepunk? Maybe Elizabeth Bear‘s Abby Irene stories? I know I’m missing a ton of writers. Am I barking up the wrong tree, and all of this stuff is really just included under the larger classification of “Steampunk”?

NOTE (5/28/2011): For a more carefully-crafted examination of what I mean when I talk about “bustlepunk,” please check out Bustlepunk Revisited.

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72 Responses to The Bustlepunk Manifesto

  1. Kelly says:

    Good term, well coined.

  2. Kelly says:

    Good term, well coined.

  3. martianmooncrab says:

    if you read the definition of the word Punk, you will find some treasures in there…

  4. martianmooncrab says:

    if you read the definition of the word Punk, you will find some treasures in there…

  5. Sherwood Smith says:

    I suspect what you are describing is what was called Mannerpunk ten years ago.

    I love reading it (and writing it).

  6. Sherwood Smith says:

    I suspect what you are describing is what was called Mannerpunk ten years ago.

    I love reading it (and writing it).

  7. Serge says:

    “…Who/what else should be classified as Bustlepunk?…”

    My wife says her novels are Bustlepunk, except that they’re published in the romance field, with the restrictions that entails.

  8. Serge says:

    “…Who/what else should be classified as Bustlepunk?…”

    My wife says her novels are Bustlepunk, except that they’re published in the romance field, with the restrictions that entails.

  9. Serge says:

    Here is an Armored Bustle.

    • M.K. Hobson says:

      My daughter and her friends were taking turns punching me in the stomach the other night, when I was wearing my corset. They ended up hurting their wee little hands while I stood there grinning like Houdini (that metaphor excluding, of course, the regrettable last punch he endured …)

      (And yes, I’m back to being a corset kinda fella. I’m quite changeable that way. I made it myself, a fact of which I am exceedingly proud! But more on that when I post about my costume …)

  10. Serge says:

    Here is an Armored Bustle.

    • M.K. Hobson says:

      My daughter and her friends were taking turns punching me in the stomach the other night, when I was wearing my corset. They ended up hurting their wee little hands while I stood there grinning like Houdini (that metaphor excluding, of course, the regrettable last punch he endured …)

      (And yes, I’m back to being a corset kinda fella. I’m quite changeable that way. I made it myself, a fact of which I am exceedingly proud! But more on that when I post about my costume …)

  11. Janet Croft says:

    Hmmm — the Worth gown puts me in mind of the Irene novels by Carole Nelson Douglas — you know, that Irene, the one Sherlock Holmes could never forget. I think the early ones might well qualify as bustlepunk.

  12. Janet Croft says:

    Hmmm — the Worth gown puts me in mind of the Irene novels by Carole Nelson Douglas — you know, that Irene, the one Sherlock Holmes could never forget. I think the early ones might well qualify as bustlepunk.

  13. Erik Nelson says:

    Bustlepunk is, of course, a kind of seampunk.

  14. Erik Nelson says:

    Bustlepunk is, of course, a kind of seampunk.

  15. I do have to point out that I write in the Regency… what is that, Empirepunk?

  16. I do have to point out that I write in the Regency… what is that, Empirepunk?

  17. Reampunk – let’s just say, papermaking was _so_ not where my brain went with that. And hot damn will please someone write it.

  18. Reampunk – let’s just say, papermaking was _so_ not where my brain went with that. And hot damn will please someone write it.

  19. Rachel Swirsky says:

    Pretty dress! Despite dislike of punk, must write abotu dress!

  20. Rachel Swirsky says:

    Pretty dress! Despite dislike of punk, must write abotu dress!

  21. […] Carriger: Oh, that wasn’t me, that was M.K. Hobson. I like the term, and I’m all over accepting it, but I do think bustlepunk falls under the […]

  22. […] of tea or some other beverage.  Over on my friend M.K. Hobson’s site, she coined the term Bustlepunk.   I found this to be singularly cool at the time, and I still do.  Somewhere in the back of my […]

  23. Loree Okeke says:

    Hi, thank you for your post. You’ve helped me a lot.

  24. […] Also notable are Kraken by China Miéville, which isn’t steampunk, but is awesome nonetheless and Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear, who has been accused of writing both steampunk and bustlepunk. […]

  25. Djritalin1980 says:

    just splitting hair’s. why even bother with the gears and steam all together, if you want to focus so much on tea parties you might as well just call it a romance or period piece. In case you need a definition of steampunk, look it up. It stems from speculative romance. it’s describing an era, not a dress that they wore during that era.

  26. Stefmatt says:

    I’m afraid bustlepunk just makes me think of this… good old Dame Vivienne!!

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