Fri
Oct 7 2011 12:00pm
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.

Consider some of the real life (and real fictional) Asian figures of the steampunk era:

  • Zeppelin pirates are a staple of steampunk, but nautical pirates were a reality in the waters of Southeast Asia. Notable among these were the female pirates, from Zheng Yi Sao and Cai Qian in the beginning of the 19th century to Lo Hon Cho and Lai Choi San in the early part of the 20th century. These women were captains and admirals, commanding dozens of ships and leading them into battle from the front, gaining reputations as fierce fighters. According to a contemporary Chinese account Cai Qian Ma even commanded ships with crews of niangzijun, “women warriors.”
  • One of the archetypal steampunk figures is Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo. While there was no real-life analogue for Nemo, one fictional figure who was similarly archetypal in Japanese popular literature during the early 1900s was Oshikawa Shunro’s Captain Sakuragi, who appeared in six novels from 1900 to 1907. Sakuragi is a Japanese naval officer who grows disgusted with the Japanese government’s inability to do anything to resist the imperialism of Western governments in Asia and Japan. Sakuragi quits the Navy and on an isolated island somewhere in the Indian Ocean builds the Denkotei, an “undersea battleship” armed with futuristic weapons, including torpedoes and high explosive shells. In the novels the Denk0tei demolishes white pirates, the Russian, British, and French fleets, and Sakuragi and his crew go ashore to help Filipino “freedom fighters” against the imperialistic American occupiers.
  • Much of the appeal of zeppelins and other steampunk vehicles is the mobility they offer, especially when compared to the limited mobility most people had in the steampunk era. The popular image of east Asians is of people who did not travel much. But, to take just one example, in the latter half of the 19th century there were dozens of Chinese junks working coastal Californian waters and serving the many Chinese fishing villages along the central California coast, and in the first half of the 20th century there were a large number of Japanese-piloted sampans fishing the waters around Hawaii. Any of these individuals could easily be reinterpreted in a steampunk fashion.
  • The hardboiled, crime-solving reporter was a part of Western mystery fiction from the 1880s, but in real life there were large numbers of reporters just like that in China, especially Shanghai, where the competition between newspapers was intense and reporters and editors did anything they could for a hot scoop. These newspapers were modeled on American and English newspapers, and though many of them were aimed at the Europeans in China, some were written by Chinese for Chinese.
  • Roguish treasure-hunters need not automatically be white. Since the 11th century there has been a tradition among Nyingma Buddhists in Bhutan and Tibet of a special class of lamas, the gter-ston or “treasure hunters,” who “discover” gter-ma (scriptural treasures) which have supposedly been hidden away during the Buddha’s lifetime so that they can be found and revealed to the world at a foreordained time. The gter-ston were active through the 19th century, and while some were genuine many were fraudulent.
  • From the mid-17th century through the 1920s Chinese novels translated into Mongolian were in huge demand in Mongolia, and there was a flourishing trade in them. But the problem for the Mongolian bookbuyers and booksellers was not only the bidding wars which would break out with Russian, Mongolian, and Chinese buyers, but that getting the manuscripts back to Mongolia to sell was difficult because of the very real chance that those transporting the books would be attacked on the way back by bandits wanting to get the manuscripts and sell them for themselves. This resulted in decades of adventurous Mongolian book traders as skilled with sword and gun as they were at selling books.
  • In 1905, following the Japanese victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, many Indians saw the triumph of Japan as both inspiration (Gandhi urged South African Indians to “emulate…the example of Japan”) and as an indication of how far India had fallen. Several Indians decided that what India need was to imitate Japanese ways, so these men and women (one of whom was a “political dacoit”) opened martial arts academies, especially in Calcutta, and taught Bengali youth "how to use the staff, the fist, the sword, and the gun” for revolutionary and political purposes. A number of these students went on to open their own martial arts schools.
  • From at least the 1850s, numerous Asian men and women were employed as freelance spies across Asia. Their employers were occasionally Western and Eastern countries but more often Western and Eastern companies; in the words of the Singapore Straits Times in 1905, “The enormous profits which can be made by those who promote combines, railway amalgamations, mineral or other State concessions make it worth the while of capitalists to scatter some thousands of pounds amongst well-dressed and well-educated ladies and gentlemen of leisure who will exert themselves to obtain accurate information from authentic sources as to coming events of financial significance.”
  • Lastly, while fictional crime-solvers, from consulting detectives to the police, are generally thought of as primarily Western, in real life during the steampunk era they were widespread in east Asia. In India, the police employed policewomen in the Punjab in 1875, and women worked as private detectives in Calcutta by 1911. In Japan, the Iwai Private Detective Agency opened in 1886 and lasted through the 1920s. A similar agency was active in Singapore in 1909. In Thailand in the early 1900s, the enthusiasm of Prince Vajiravudh (later King Rama VI) for private detective fiction resulted in a series of 15 stories about Th0ng-in, a Thai combination of Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin; these stories resulted in a number of Thai men and women opening their own private detective agencies. The very popular San Shà detective stories by Shwe Ú-daùng had a similar effect in Burma in the 1920s.

Pirates, submarine captains, hard-boiled reporters, female private detectives... these are all part of east Asian history and popular culture in the steampunk era. Steampunk writers and cosplayers, expand your horizons!


Jess Nevins is the author of the World Fantasy Award-nominated Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, other works on Victoriana and pulp fiction, and a collection of extensive comic book annotations, inlcuding The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

This article is part of Steampunk Week: ‹ previous | index | next ›
37 comments
Jaymee Goh
1. Jha
So basically you are saying we Azns are a fuckload more awesome than white people making "Asian steampunk" think we are.

Yeah, we knew that, but thanks for spilling the beans, dude.

(Love you!)
Jaymee Goh
2. Jha
OK, troll-face off. This is why I dislike "Victoriental" steampunk, and why I insist that people NOT use "Asian steampunk" to describe what they are doing if they're white. I have less an issue with "Asian-inspired" -- the difference being that one term implies a more essentialist performance, and the other displays clearly that it is derivative. And "Victoriental" of course tells me that you are either clueless, or you are informed and in earnest and I should stay the fuck away from you.


Moreover, a lot of us forget that what we know, or think we know, or how we think about Asian culture tends to be filtered through white perspectives. These archetypes are there for a reason, and they've been shaped by hundreds of years of Orientalism. Add to how pulp fiction adds to the permeation of Orientalist, racist stereotypes within the general populace, and it's not any much wonder why our archetypes tend to be so unimaginative. There's just so little information available more generally, and no encouragement to search out more.
Pamela Adams
3. Pam Adams
This resulted in decades of adventurous Mongolian book traders as skilled with sword and gun as they were at selling books.

That's the story I want!
Patrick Ley
4. Patrick Ley
As a minor point of correction, gter-ston were "recovering" texts hidden in the Tibetan plateau supposedly by Padmasabhava not by the Buddha. It's also not entirely clear what you mean by genuine and false in that section.

None of the gter-ma seem to be authentically of Indian origin, especially since they are supposedly tantras, but their contents are nothing like those of Indian tantras of any period.

Nevertheless, great article.
Patrick Ley
5. Jo Vanderhooft
Such an awesome post. I hope to see cosplayers and authors consider these things!
Patrick Ley
6. Dreamwolf
Great Article!
Most of what you write about was news to me (I knew about female pirates) and especially the notes about Mongolian booktraders was awesome.
Patrick Ley
7. m_faustus
Two nice examples that spring to mind covering a broad category of Asian steampunk are Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock and more recently (and perhaps more accurately fitting a diesel punk theme) the incredibly awesome movie The Good, The Bad, The Weird set in 1930s Manchuria with bandits, trains, motorcycles and a diving helmet.
Patrick Ley
8. TomT
Sarah Hoyt's book Heart and Soul has some very good Asian Steampunk/magical pirates in it. Basically an imperial house in exile turned air pirates. :D Something you might do if many members of your house are weredragons.
Jason Taksony Hewitt
9. BoredinLA
Love the idea of terton steampunk. Superfun.
Patrick Ley
10. elliot b.
Reply to Jha's previous statement that says:
"why I insist that people NOT use "Asian steampunk" to describe what they are doing if they're white"

Really??? You insist??? You have to be kidding!
If someone is white, you are forbidding them a literary, creative or artristic licence? "Insist" yourself a new and unconfused attitude, dude.
Patrick Ley
11. jandore
@elliot b. : You are always free to write whatever you want.

Likewise, we are always free to consider you clueless, obnoxious, and possibly racist.
Kristin Franseen
13. musichistorygeek
@Jha-

I wonder if there is a way to do "Asian-inspired" steampunk (i.e., steampunk based on the 19th century European fashions for "exotic" things) without coming across as (1)clueless, (2) racist, or (3) both. Even with the best of knowledge, research, and intent, a given choice can still come off as appropriation (or just insensitive) at a bad time. That being said, I'd like to see a way for steampunks from all backgrounds (especially those drawing on European roots) to acknowledge and deal with Orientalism in Victorian society.

(In the "real world," I'm working on a project about the craze for 18th century "Turkish" operas in Vienna, and how/if theater companies can put them on now without replicating the exoticism and racial fail many of these works contain.)
Patrick Ley
15. reader
you write: "One of the archetypal steampunk figures is Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo." ... and then go on to name Asian alternatives.
However, Verne's character is specifically South Asian - from India, and in fact is motivated by his anger at imperialism.
Neville Park
16. nevillepark
Suave, fashionable commercial spies? Swashbuckling book traders? I can imagine the sensational pulp tales already. :D

And I know one shouldn't feed the trolls but
If someone is white, you are forbidding them a literary, creative or artristic licence?
k, but u rong, doe
Jess Nevins
17. jessnevins
@reader: uh, yes, I'm aware of that. But up until Moore & O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, how many portrayals of Nemo emphasized his Indian origin? How many people who have heard of Nemo know that he's Indian? Precious few. And how many steampunk cosplayers imitating Nemo are white? Lots.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
18. tnh
That's a fabulous article. Thanks for all the cool new toys to play with.
Patrick Ley
19. Kuri
Great article!
Samurai, geisha, and ninja? So "Asian Steampunk" is usually Japanese steampunk?? That is kind of a worry!

When I think of steampunk in Japan I always place it a little after the Victorian era (Meiji period) in the Taisho period. As if steampunk technology was introduced during the Meiji period like most western culture and then taken into daily life by the Taisho period. During the Taisho period it was common to see people walking down the streets in both kimono and European dresses and suits. People's lives were a mix of new "European" culture and the traditional Japanese lifestyle. I think the Taisho feeling in Japan fits steampunk pretty well.

During this time former samurai families became scholars, writers, reporters, and artists! I'd like to see these men (and sometimes women!) as steampunks!

I'm sorry. This is just my idea.
Patrick Ley
20. jlassen
Great article. One small point. Why the quote marks around the
Philippino "Freedom Fighters." The revoultionary insurgancy against US occupation was ongoing through 1913, and wasn't just a figment of Japanese bias against western Imperialism, it really was a bunch of freedom fighters who helped kicked spain out of the PI, and then got screwed when the US annexed them.

The irony of Japanese adventure fiction imagining Japan helping to free the PI from Western Imperialism is rich, given Japans brutal occupaton of the PI in ww2. But there you have it.

Thanks again for the great article. Can't wait to read/find the
Sakuragi books.
Patrick Ley
21. KS
Yes, I agree with @jlassen. It's pretty rich for the Japanese to talk about "helping" the Filipinos when, from Korea to Indonesia, we are all very very familiar indeed with the laughable "East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" and WWII.

And if someone would like to even further back, "Gunpowderpunk" perhaps :), let's not forget the Bugis traders and pirates around Borneo. And by the time Portuguese admiral, Alfonso de Albuquerque, sailed into Melaka in 1511 (after they were successfully thrown out two years earlier), it was ALREADY one of the liveliest ports in the world, with traders speaking more than 150 different languages and dialects, all presided over by the Portmaster who had a great deal of power and influence.
Patrick Ley
22. SarahJL
"@elliot b. : You are always free to write whatever you want.

Likewise, we are always free to consider you clueless, obnoxious, and possibly racist."

@jandore: You are always free to consider things however you want.

Likewise, we are always free to consider you dogmatic, obnoxious and possibly racist, yourself.
Patrick Ley
23. Jay Kristoff
I debated for a while whether I should even engage with this. But sorry, bullshit needs to be called.

Out of respect, I won't do it in Tor's house. But if anyone is interested in the perspectives of a soon-to-be-published author who's apparently languishing under 'basic misconceptions', 'limiting' myself to 'unimaginitive' tropes and whatnot, they can be found here:

http://misterkristoff.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/calling-bollocks/

Enjoy.
Patrick Ley
24. drs
I don't think the Japanese can be fairly accused of hypocrisy about fictionally helping Filipino freedom fighters when the fiction in question was published up to 1907.
Ashley Fox
25. A Fox
@23 you're blog response is rather vitriolic! But neer-the-less, interesting. I also found it odd that the 'alternative' characters that could be used are actually very well worn western tropes-merely with a different skin tone (of course the cultural aspect would be explored in the world building, but it is characters we are speaking of).*

@Nevin you refer to 'the era of steampunk'. I find this quite ludicrous as there is no era of steampunk-it is a current sub-culture which draws heavily on the past, with an idealised and alternative perspective.

@2 and others. I find your perspective confounding. Im writing this out of genuine curiosity for your response.

Why do you have such a problem with white people doing Asian Steampunk? Surely ALL steampunk characters, from whichever area/era takes their fancy are acting at a culture foriegn to their own? It would be considered outrageously racism to insist that say, a black person could not dress up as an Victorian English Gent (captain of an airship or some such) as their race would not fit that role, or alow them to understand a foriegn culture.

Why then a would it be not be acceptable for a white person to play an Asian role? Steampunk isnt historical renactment, its an outrageous love-affair inspired by history in all its failed, an assumed, potencial.

It just seems rather sad to me that everyday racial mores are being dragged into a subject which should revel in its aloofness to such issues; Steampunk by its nature is unfetted by the stark social structures and taboos, even if it may choose to use these thematicaly. Its a choice. You can choose to continue the friction of racism, or you can embrace the fiction and have fun.

Of course if you see some white bint in a komono at a convention, running round lasciviously, weilding an eyeliner, geting her ninja/chav friend to draw 'slanty eyes' on her....feel free to slice of her head. You know ,with your katana. You do have a katana, dont you? (Note the ironic humour and sarcasm!)

Oh and also. If you insist on whites not doing Asian steampunk, please tell me you are not an Anime fan...I mean...C'mon...

*Mongolian book traders being the exception.
Kristin Franseen
26. musichistorygeek
@25
Why do you have such a problem with white people doing Asian Steampunk? Surely ALL steampunk characters, from whichever area/era takes their fancy are acting at a culture foriegn to their own? It would be considered outrageously racism to insist that say, a black person could not dress up as an Victorian English Gent (captain of an airship or some such) as their race would not fit that role, or alow them to understand a foriegn culture.

Why then a would it be not be acceptable for a white person to play an Asian role? Steampunk isnt historical renactment, its an outrageous love-affair inspired by history in all its failed, an assumed, potencial.


The problem with a white person playing an Asian role has nothing to do with historical accuracy or said person's knowledge; rather, it is the centuries-old history of European artists and authors exoticizing non-Western cultures.

Also, Jha didn't say that a white person couldn't play an Asian role, just that describing what they are doing as "Asian steampunk" (as opposed to steampunk inspired by a particular society or culture) suggests that there is one big Asian culture out there from which they are borrowing. Which smacks of cultural appropriation, to say the least.

It just seems rather sad to me that everyday racial mores are being dragged into a subject which should revel in its aloofness to such issues; Steampunk by its nature is unfetted by the stark social structures and taboos, even if it may choose to use these thematicaly. Its a choice. You can choose to continue the friction of racism, or you can embrace the fiction and have fun.


No one's dragging racism into steampunk. By it's very nature of existing in a world where various social structures still exist, racism is going to happen in steampunk. So is classism, sexism, homophobia, and all of those other -isms that plague society today. However much we might want to, we don't leave our social conditioning at the door when we walk into a convention or write a short story. Even in the most accepting, affirming, open group of people, these things play a role. In my opinion, what Jha and others are trying to do is make people aware of that fact and challenge it (or at least consider what exactly it is they choose to adopt from any given time and place).
Ashley Fox
27. A Fox
"it is the centuries-old history of European artists and authors exoticizing non-Western cultures."

"suggests that there is one big Asian culture out there from which they are borrowing."

Do you not see the conflict in these statements? Wetern cultures vary greatly, whether you are comparing Engalnd to America, Scotland to Engalnd, North America to South. Yet they all get regularily lumped into the same category, as you have just done.

And yet this 'lumping' (!) of Asian cultures is one of your grievences. At least with labeling a type of Steampunk Asian it refers to a land mass! It doesnt automatically mean one culture over another, or one singular culture.

Whilst I would ikely agree with your first sentiments in a discusion of historical merit; in this I find it irrelvent. Modernity has seen a merging of cultures and races, the gene/culture pool ever deepening.* Artists should be plumbing its depths. Not just asian-ing up old tropes, Nevin.

I symaphise with wanting interesting, culturally relevant perspectives included in any, ahem, costume choices, but I cant help feeling that the arguments I have seen here are rife with double standards! I do not think that anybody, regardless of race, should be creatively constricted becuase of social mores. I also think that any creation should be a well thought out process. (And lets face it, if you are going to be putting time and money into a character, it probably is).

The argument that white people should not do Asian Steampunk is even more intersting when you consider the rigid caste system that is historically in place in many Asian cultures (Im thinking the shit-shoveling 'unclean').

*Im aware I took that metaphor to far...sorry
Patrick Ley
28. Dr. Curiosity
I'd far rather be in a situation where we engage with other cultures in a knowledgeable, thoughtful and respectful manner, rather than being completely hands-off and whitewashing them out of our storytelling under the flag of "sensitivity". Especially when dealing with something set in a historical context, we need to be aware of just how multicultural our histories have been (both the good parts and the bad).

Of course, doing it right does take more effort, more research, and more humility than many are willing to commit to. If the best you can manage is a condescending, ham-fisted stereotype, you might be better off saying less and listening more.
Patrick Ley
29. madmatx
Dudes. Neil Stephenson. Diamond Age.
Patrick Ley
30. Gini Mitchell
I disagree. I think Asian steampunks carry off the style very well and often with great inspiration. I read above, phrases like "in the steampumk era". Refering to I guess the Victorian times. Steampunk is here and now. Maybe inspired by the Victorian and Edwardian style but as though the ideals of that period had lasted into the 21st century and the digital age.
I think some Asian women bring a fantasic slant to their costumes and the guys often pick up on items of hardware to steampunkify that we in the west have often missed. The only think that lets steampunk down is people who dont put the effort in or have no creativity. A cheap top hat and some welding goggles dont cut it. I also have a problem with 3D studio pictures of implausible airships or worse still lego airships.
Steampunk should be tactile and have an air of quality, craftmanship and invention.
Patrick Ley
31. James Davis Nicoll
Steampunk is here and now. Maybe inspired by the Victorian and Edwardian style but as though the ideals of that period had lasted into the 21st century and the digital age.

When you say "ideals" above, do you mean fashions? Because many of the ideals that died out between now and then were ones many modern people would frown at and the ones that prevailed are among the reasons our societies are different from olden days.
M F
32. Madeline
@23 Jay Kristoff: Your post could be much more well-written. The simple gloss, for those who haven't clicked through:

1. I haven't seen this "samurai/ninja/geisha" overabundance, so it doesn't exist and Nevins is lying to look all cool and knowledgeable

2. In fact there is hardly any Asian steampunk at all

3. Tedious cliches can sometimes be done well

Now, that does leave out the smugness and most of the personal attacks, but I think, since you're an author whose first book hasn't yet been published, I've improved your message by doing so.

If you intend to keep up a presence on the internet, you should know that people on the internet, much like people in real life, tend to treat you as you have treated them. If you had respected Nevins enough to try to grasp his point, you might have had a useful discussion! If you're ignorant of the context of a post, you learn better by asking instead of by striking out in fear.
Patrick Ley
33. Dave Hardy
Hi Jess! Saw this on Beyond Victoriana & replied there before I realized it was on Tor. I suppose I stand exposed as a Luddite (don't report me to Mr. Egremont!)


A lot of Victorian scientific romances/voyages extraordinaires/what have you was about the encounter between the Western world and everybody else. I think colonialism is sort of encoded in SF's roots, e.g. Rider Haggard is re-telling Cortez & the Aztecs (several times over, with pretty decent sales each time).

But Steampunk I think gets a lot from Cyberpunk which did pretty much have a Japan obsession (fair enough, it's a country to obsess over). Authentic Victoriana seems very broad-picture, 19th c Europeans were exploring the world (and annexing it), getting every single detail down. They had no idea Japan was going to be cool in the 1980s.

I've been toying with some ideas related to the Netherlands East Indies. I may have to write them some day.
Patrick Ley
34. Gini Mitchell
Re : Mr. James Davis Nicoll's comment to me.
with respect sir if you read my full comment I explain that in my humble opinion the steampunk ideal is about the style, quality and craftmanship that we associate with the Victorian era and the fashion of steampunk clothing in general refects that. Just as important as the costumes are the quirky gadgets and decor that true modern craftsmen and women are prepared to spend time creating using similar materials to create this illusion that appeals to us.
When I refer to the here and now I only mean to remind us all that steampunk is after all only a fantasy that we all choose to roleplay. It is not about reliving the past or following historical style to the letter. It is more about "what if" if you follow me?
Patrick Ley
35. Refus
I think one of the causes of division here is that Nevins appears to be interested in steampunk because of its origins in history/literary history. Many fans of the genre are clearly coming at it from a contemporary angle, thus the rejection above of his term "the age of steampunk."

I personally find Nevin's approach more stimulating, but I can understand the other side. It's similar to the way one can be a space opera fan without necessarily being interested in astronomy or the history of (actual) space travel.
Patrick Ley
36. James N Smith
You make a great point #35. As Steampunk becomes more mainstream you fall into the problem of definitions, so that no one really knows what someone is actually talking about, a lifestyle, an aesthetic, literature, a fad? Either way, one thing is pretty clear, many who have incorporated it clearing did and do so without much thought or research into it (and now i'm referring mostly to the fans of the steampunk SF who should know better). Many look at the genre as either complete fantasy, or only occuring in anglo England/America. What they don't seem to realize is that if one really carries the alternate history aspects of SP to a proper conclusion the rest of the world didn't stand still while Europe developed all this technology. Any culture in the Victoria era can be a part of Steampunk without resorting to Asian/Black/Native American tags.

In researching the feasibility of a POC protagonist for a steampunk project I was surprised to find out that there were indeed more than just one POC in England during the victorian era. Somehow Hollywood and most writers always seemed to never mention them, or they were just out of frame leading many to believe that POC who write or build personas etc are somehow only "pretending" to be a part when in fact they were there all along. England had colonies in many exotic regions, and your telling me that wouldn't have lead to some extremely interesting cross-cultural technology usage? Good grief I thought the term was speculative fiction, why does it appear so hard for people to think outside of the box just a bit?
James Smith
37. nelsonjames
One aside, reading the threads I see an awful lot of Japanese bashing going on. Nevin said that one author wrote a book in which an event ocurred yet many commenters automatically jumped on the train that said writer was somehow speaking for every Japanese. Also they started ascribing things that happened in WWII to a writer writing in the Victorian era before those events even took place! Even if the story had been written during the period of the events the commenters mention, why couldn't it be that the writer simply wanted to write about a character that exemplified the higher aspirations of a people instead of the worst, or maybe a character that held his own beliefs?

I hope the commenters can see the problem with their line of logic because it does tend to toward a Fail of the most egregious variety.
Patrick Ley
39. James N Smith
This is an interesting article, moreso when you realize that though it hasn't really taken root yet many Westerners are contemplating the idea of toying with Asian influenced steampunk. If those writers are willing to do their research I think it would be a good thing.

I faced this problem while working on a Steampunk web series. I knew I wanted to included Native Americans, but didn't feel I could write them without unintentionally resorting to some stereotypes since here in America we're inculcated to think that way of any non-mainstream cultures wheither we realize it or not. Finally I decided the best thing was to offer those eps to a Native American Sf writer who knew their culture better than I. Last thing I want is to be involved in another racefail.

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