Tor.com content by

Jess Nevins

The Problem With “Asian Steampunk”

It’s not that the phrase “Asian Steampunk” is intrinsically flawed. It’s just that the range of concepts displayed in “Asian Steampunk,” whether fiction, gaming, or costumes, are so so… limited. You’d never catch “Western Steampunk” limiting itself to cowboys, hard-boiled detectives, and British bobbies. Why then limit yourself to samurai, ninja, and geisha? There was so much more to the cultures and peoples of east Asia than that.

Ultimately the problem springs from some basic misconceptions. Steampunk uses archetypes of real life and popular fiction from the 19th century, but the archetypes drawn upon for “Asian Steampunk” are unimaginative and display little knowledge of the intriguing mix of tradition and modernity which so many of the east Asian peoples had during the late 19th century.

[Examples after the cut]

Series: Steampunk Week