Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Introduction and a Topic for Discussion

To all of you fine Southerners and to all of you visiting this fair and esteemed collection of writings from our local community south of the Mason-Dixon, welcome.

I had been asked to contribute to this aetheric periodical and add my thoughts to those of my peers. Though I must admit, with no small degree of humility, that I feel privileged to be considered among such wonderful company. First, an introduction:

I am Doctor Q, a morally ambiguous musical arranger (an MP3-J or DJ if you like), as well as a master of ceremonies for hire. I have inflicted my musical taste on the general public at the many successful Mechanical Masquerades here in Terminus, as well as at other assorted and sundry locales, most notable of which is at the great gathering of gaslamp and gear enthusiasts known as AnachroCon. While born a Yankee, I have travelled a good bit up and down the east coast states for prolonged periods of time and now called the South my home for some time now, and I find the place suits me – well Terminus in specific. It’s fast paced enough to provide for my needs, while retaining just enough of that southern charm to not be too stressful.

As an adopted Southerner, I have a few unique views on how the South has interpreted the Steampunk subculture. First, I had never truly understood the term “Southern Hospitality” until I finally took the plunge and began actually socializing at the conventions and such with my fellow retro-futurists. This community has among them the kindest, warmest, and most welcoming people among their number as nothing I have ever been a part of before, and it is this welcoming, inclusive spirit that I do all I can to foster, while at the same time not appear too soft, as I am after all a card carrying member of a number of nefarious science organizations.

Most notably, I find that those of us who mingle in these circles have many amazing ideas as well as a variety of opinions on what is or is not Steampunk, whether rules should be considered or rejected on its face, whether the genre is open to all forms of expression or not, and a host of other topics.

As one who specializes in musical selection – and graphic novels, but that is a post for another time – I can say only that what impresses me about Southern Steampunks is that we have always been a stubborn and opinionated lot, but for the most part we welcome all new ideas and can debate our own views with respect, candor, and intellectual grace that makes me proud to consider myself among such a great number of fine ladies and gentlemen. And in the end, this sharing of ideas and thoughts is just the start. I know that almost all of us have no problems sharing more: how our costumes were made, how to make it yourself, where to go to get the hard to find parts you need, access to workshops, etc. We’ve shared our style, our art, and in my own case what I consider to be the musical stylings found all over the world with those that come and spend time with one of us or all of us. We have conventions, gatherings, meet-ups, and social salons that have allowed us a level of community that I think is unique to this area, and one that should be fostered, nurtured and grown.

So when I gave a long, hard thought as to what I could share with the community via written words as opposed to musical arrangements, it took me some time to decide what to do. And I have arrived at the conclusion that for now, I would like to offer up some ideas to you all and see what it is the community would like to discuss. Maybe moderate, maybe put my own thoughts in, but overall I think the free and open exchange of ideas is paramount. So let’s get to it.

We have thus far in this blog heard from a number of luminaries as to what they feel is or is not Steampunk. There is the camp that feels that the Neo-Victorian influence is essential, while others take a more inclusive all-are-welcome approach. There are those feeling that a need for historical anachronism in way or another is crucial, that some manner of do-it-yourself craft is needed, while others are content with simply slapping goggles on their head and wearing things they got at Hot Topic. I make no judgments on any of it, I simply ask that you take some time, and share with us what you think it is or is not.

And to that end, I’ll even throw in a bonus thought for comment: I have a distaste for the word Steampunk. It’s true. I can – and likely will – write a long post here on its history, where it came from, and why I think it is nowhere near the best word to really encapsulate the subculture as I see it, but it is too late, as the word’s gotten too much traction to stop. So I use it begrudgingly. So if you see me use words like Retro-Futurist, Anachronist, Neo-Victorian, or Gearhead – just know it’s because I find them to be more appropriate for the topic and use them generally interchangeably. Your thoughts? Like the word just fine or do you prefer another?

Please comment and share and I promise to toss in my two pence here and there.

Thank you for your time and stay tuned for further installments.
~Doctor Q


  1. I'm somewhat with you in regards to the term "steampunk" To put all the wonderful aspects of this movement that brings us together under one umbrella term is a disservice.

    However, when an umbrella term is needed, I feel that "steampunk" really is the best word for the job.

  2. Wow that was really interesting, altought i would add few more deeper thoughts