Either more people are reading my blog than I expect or more people know the punk genres than I expect.  Anyways, my musings on my poll...

The question of which of the two genres I prefer would have been an easy question for me to answer a year or so ago.  Now, not so much.  In fact if you look back I refer to this preference in the early days of this blog.

Nowadays, I question my preference.  This may be my continuing climb, or decline, into nonfavoritishness.  But also the merits and detractors of both genres seem to balance out better than I originally thought.

Steampunk is fun.  Visually it takes a world you know and have heard about and transforms it into something fresh and inventive.  I love the classic look of steampunk.  I love the creativity.  I love making the old new.  But in my experience steampunk stories lack depth beyond base enjoyment.  The inherent qualities of the genre bring out imagination and (hopefully) fresh entertainment, but does not tell you things essential to human nature beyond exploration and inventiveness.  Not saying a deep story isn't possible, it is just lacking the innate qualities that another genre might contribute.  

The genre also suffers from a serious lack of quality representation.  If you are trying to tell someone about the genre you are forced to cite the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I will not use that terrible acronym!).  As an ambassador, this movie proves a poor one.  Obviously you can speak of Jules Verne etc., but for modern representation that people may know...  And also Jules Verne wasn't steampunk to Jules Verne.

Cyberpunk is a much coarser affair.  But that is sorta the point.  It is that ugly kinda beautiful.  Where steampunk makes the old new, cyberpunk makes the new old.  When cyberpunk gets executed it is a mesmerizing set piece.  A broken torn up world that holds onto the same old hope that humanity can evolve out this whole mess, but you just end up where you started.  It intrinsically already digs far deeper into humanity at the outset than steampunk.  At least to my eyes.  

It is also much better represented and commonplace.  

They both have their merits.  And obviously any entry into the genre deserves an evaluation independent of personal preference for the genre.  But the fight which a little burning coal used to be winning, no longer has a clear victor.  And in fact momentum has switched to a blinking neon light.

1 comment:

Stuart said...

Interesting musings. When I voted I was thinking, not of the basis for the genres, but rather how I have seen them both represented.

I am not engrossed or experienced in either genre but when I think of them in their various medias (not just movies) my initial favor was toward Cyberpunk.

But then I had the thought that Cyberpunk can really be used and abused in it's portrayal; not being inovative or interesting and often taking a generic story and placing it in some generic future.

When I think of Steampunk, I think of all the interesting ways common technology is portrayed in ways I would never think of it. It makes me think of how things could have been had things gone even the slightest bit differently and make me hypothesize on the little decisions that shape everyday life. I get visions of Red Alert too, of course. Maybe that's the draw. /shrug

Don't get me wrong, I love both genres and, done well, I am not sure I could choose between the two.