I would like to begin by saying while I revel in the science and enjoy the Victorian splendor that is in today’s steampunk, I find that there is often something missing…and it’s not steam…it’s steaminess.
Now before you get your bustle in an uproar, take a look at some of the most celebrated authors of other science fiction and action genres, like James Rollins, Michael Crichton and James Patterson. More often that not, they include some relationship (dare I say romantic) element between their characters within the context of the story. And while steampunks are full of science and fantasy elements, I believe they would benefit from a heavier dose of the relationship aspects between the characters.
Why? Because it’s human nature to be interested in the human condition. That’s part of what makes even dystopian fiction possible. There’s been a long-standing tradition among those in the science-fiction genre that says too much steaminess in a story somehow lowers its quality. Why?
After all, when you read a book, is it simply because that character has the coolest raygun in existence, or is it because you actually are curious what will happen to the character once he shoots said raygun and mayhem errupts?
When you meet a couple, do you ask how they met, or do you want to know how often they polish their brass buttons on their captain’s jacket to get them to gleam so well?
Part of the reason I adore Gail Carriger’s steampunk Parasol Protectorate series is because of the relationship between her main characters. The first book especially got me hooked because there was an attraction between Alexa Tarbotti and Lord Macon that was nothing if not steamy.
While the Victorian era was indeed a little more straight-laced about the kinds of affections that could be touted in public, we must remember that this is steampunk. Perhaps being a little steamier requires us to be a little more punk about our perceptions of the era and let those relationships out in the open.
After all, if a woman can wear her undergarments on the outside without steampunk social circles batting an eyelash, why should we not have more steaminess in our steampunk stories? What do you think? Are you for more steam in your steampunk or not?