SteamPunk Magazine is a print-and-web periodical devoted to the genre and burgeoning subculture of steampunk. We pride ourselves on promoting a version of steampunk that does not forget the punk aspects of it–challenging authority, Do-It-Yourself attitudes, and creating our own culture in the face of an alienating and boring mainstream one. We publish fiction set in the Victorian era, set in the far future, and set in fantasy worlds. We have a fairly broad interpretation of what might be considered steampunk, resisting the urge to limit ourselves and create a “pure” definition of the word. We also publish DIY how-to articles, essays on fashion, historical tracts, rants and manifestos… anything we think will serve the greater steampunk community.
We are also dedicated to a steampunk that is fiercely anti-colonial, anti-racist, and pro-gender-diversity. We’ve no interest in glorifying the rulers of our society any further.
Our magazine is available for sale through a number of channels and has always been available for free download in print-quality and web-quality formats. Our goal is the dissemination of information, not the reaping of profit. We accept no advertising because we want it clear that our customers are our readers, not companies. We publish under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone to reproduce our work non-commercially, so long as they attribute the content creators.
Currently we’re published by Combustion Books, a NYC-based publisher that is collectively-run, operating without hierarchy. Our primary distributor is AK Press, another collectively-run business. In the past, we were published by first Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, an anarchist zine publisher based in Oregon, and then Vagrants Among Ruins, based in the UK.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is steampunk?
Steampunk is an aesthetic movement and burgeoning subculture that grew out of a genre of fiction with the same name. Steampunk as a genre is descended from Cyberpunk, which questioned the scientific optimism prevalent in mainstream science fiction and instead offered a gritty, grimly realistic world in which corporations ruled the earth, empowered in many ways by the development of communications technology. Cyberpunk protagonists were hackers and subcultural street fighters who navigated endless metropolises and uncovered corporate conspiracies. Steampunk authors realized the same sorts of values could be used to re-imagine the Victorian era, with the empire serving a similar role as corporations.
Steampunk has of course developed since its creation in the 1980s, and has, since roughly 2006-07, become an art and craft movement as well as a subculture with its own fashion and music.
When and how did SteamPunk Magazine start?
The first issue of SteamPunk Magazine was released on March 3, 2007. The website and call for submissions first went up online in the fall of 2006.
SteamPunk Magazine was started by editor Margaret Killjoy. In Margaret’s words: “I’d been writing steampunk fiction for a year or so and was looking for a home for it, so I was tossing around the idea of starting a steampunk magazine. At the time, steampunk culture was almost non-existent, just a pair of live-journal communities. I mentioned my desire to my friend Steven Archer of the band Ego Likeness, and he said ‘do it now. Steampunk is going to be huge.’ So I put up a call for submissions and put the first issue together.”
Why do you insist that steampunk is political?
To paraphrase contributor David Z. Morris, it’s not that we believe steampunk has or should have a particular political platform so much as that steampunk does in fact have political significance. We have no interest in politics in the sense of “democrats versus republicans” or the like, but instead we believe that steampunk, and subculture more broadly, can have a profound impact on how we interact with one another and how we organize our society.
I know you’re a print publication, but will you run this press release about some event or thing I’ve made or whatever?
No, probably not. Our web presence is primarily to promote the magazine and work done by the contributors to the magazine.