Yes! 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.