So, a proposal to my fellow steampunkers, Asian and non-Asian alike: Steampunk subverts so much, so let’s have it subvert our histories too. Steampunk can be about airships and clockwork and the Crown and Nikola Tesla. But let it also be about the Boxer Rebellion and King Chulalongkorn of Siam, and fighting the British Raj. Or let’s see what happened if China never had that policy of isolation and developed its own steam technology. Or have Indian sky-pirates shipping their tea and spices into England themselves. Or, more interestingly enough, play out imperialism within Asia: the China’s battles against Korea, Mongolia, or Vietnam. Or what about the rising competition between China and Japan? And not to mention outside of Asia; I want to see techno Aztecs or steampunk in Liberia or Sitting Bull with an arm cannon.
Let it be known I don't have any expertise in Japanese culture or history-- you know, just in case someone walked away with the idea I thought I was a historian. Asia isn't the only region that could stand more representation in fantasy/sf (see above), but it's the one I know most about. And of the cultures in that region, Japan is the one I have the most background in, China being a distant second. These aren't the only countries I believe have potential for silkpunk, or for alternate historical exploration in steampunk settings - just the ones I personally know best. And if anyone on the Flist decides to write about Indian sky pirates? Hoshit would I be all over that, reading and commenting... or at least reading and thinking about commenting, before stopping myself because I know shit about that topic and don't want to be a clueless idiot.
For that matter, Aztec technology would be pretty effing cool. I feel like I've already seen it for Egypt, but there's so much more to Africa than just Egypt, which, again, is just what I was interested in and got familiar with.
For those interested in the problems with depiction of Asian cultures in the genre, there's this linkspam on Victorientalism, which I recall seeing when it happened, and never got around to reading.
I'm especially liking the idea of setting a silkpunk story amidst Japan-China-Korea politics, or - or the Mongol Invasion, driven by machines. (Though I don't know how likely that is; I recall artisans and scholars were sometimes acquired from conquered areas, but for a mainly mobile group of people to plunk down and start experimenting with technology, I don't know. And by "I don't know," I mean I really don't - haven't read enough, am working from vague memories of Mongolian history from the POV of other countries, and so on. Acquired technology on the other hand, should be a go-- maybe? :D?)
See, now I'm just going crazy with ideas that are probably ridiculous. The Genpei War with airships! Mechanical shikigami! The warring states period with steam-powered robot suits (wait, this has probably already been done). Youkai vs. steam power. I don't even know.
If I'm missing things, go ahead and let me know. Also feel free to tell me how awesome or not awesome an idea is. Or if you're stealing one, so I'll know to look forward to having something cool to read? I would read all of these things. Twice. I might even write one, but I'm getting ahead of myself.