The British Empire and India. India and the British Empire.
Where does it fit in Steampunk?
"An English gentlewoman on her travels, being nice and harmless, wearing some exotic garments.
An exotic zombie virus picked up in the jungles of Stumblistan.
Captain Thaddeus Wildebeest was captured by Thuggees but survived, a story told in the comfort of a Gentlemen's Club in London."
As a Steampunk afficionado, I found myself wishing for more roles occupied by Victorian women in the Steampunk fiction I was reading: women who were less hampered by the framework of society damsel.
Being of Indian heritage sparked the desire to see Indian women break out of their mother of pearl cages and into Steampunk adventures.
The historical underbelly of any society is wonderful fodder for fiction; yet it seems that in Steampunk, some of the more exotic, ethnic and imperially itchy aspects of this underbelly are underused.
Yet the Victorians were - let's make no bones about it - dodgy.
They are part of one of the most inspiring cultural paradoxes in history.
Kellow Chesney states it beautifully in his brilliant 'The Victorian Underworld', when he addresses the subject of ladies of the night:
"Nothing formed so close a bond between the underworld and respectable society as prostitution. By modern standards the importance of commercial sex in Victorian life seems extraordinary; and what is so striking is not just the number of prostitutes in a society that has come to be a byword for sexual repression, but the blatancy with which they carried on their trade, even in the heart of fashionable London." (Page 363)
Transferring this and many other aspects of Victorian society to an alternate, Post-Mutiny India, incorporating native characters unhampered by traditional gender roles, seems an opportunity for fiction that is too good to let lie.
To marry it to Steampunk provides a platform from which to use all the aspects of the movement to enrich everything:
- The infinite sense that anything is possible if you can build it
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