Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Founders of Steampunk


Hello Friends,

I attended a fascinating panel at the 2011 World Fantasy Convention held in San Diego, California: “The Founders of Steampunk.”

This was a very historic event, and fortunately, Moses Siregar, author extraordinaire, filmed it with the consent of the panelists. (linked at the end of this post)

This panel featured :

K.W. Jeter, James Blaylock, and Tim Powers.

John Berlyne served as the moderator. He's not a founder of steampunk, but is an expert on Tim Powers and wrote a book about Tim's works. He's also worked as a literary agent.

Here are a few notes I made during the panel and tidbits I wanted to share with all of you.

K.W. Jeter coined the term “steampunk” and he did so in 1987 in a letter to Locus Magazine.

Jeter, Blaylock and Powers were all students at Cal State Fullerton in 1969. They discovered Henry Mayhew’s book about London called, “London Labor London Poor,” which is a treasure trove of information on the Victorian era and the best research book on London ever. (Print copies are available for purchase online or you can find it as a free download—I’m not sure where, sorry).

Jeter, Blaylock, and Powers would each call dibs on specific parts of “London Labor London Poor” for their stories. The book has all the linguistic idioms of the times. There’s also a “London Underworld” book by Mayhew they mentioned as well, and it’s available as well.

My favorite quotes from the panel:

“We weren’t hampered by knowledge” (about science). “Any revision of history that we do is accidental, as we don’t know anything about the real history.” Tim Powers

“Imaginary science is better and more fun than real science.” K.W. Jeter

“Anubis Gates is a complete fake as far as steampunk.” Tim Powers (author of Anubis Gates)

“Homunculus (by James Blaylock 1986) and Infernal Devices (by K.W. Jeter 1987) are perfect steampunk.” Tim Powers *Side note, the sequel to Infernal Devices is coming out from Tor Books in 2013.

View the video of the panel here:


Paul Genesse
Editor of The Crimson Pact anthology series

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