It's probably the most common criticism you hear about steampunk: it's all goggles and steam engines and pretty clothes, and there's almost nothing about the Victorian age's major crimes. You don't often read steampunk adventures that deal with crushing poverty, cultural jingoism, and sexual repression and hypocrisy.
While it might be fair to say this of most steampunk fiction, it's not true of all, and it is certainly not true of steampunk erotica. What could be more compromising than seeing the Victorians with their pants around their ankles and their petticoats flipped over their heads? The rebels and rogues, adventurers and heroes that populate these tales live their lives in direct opposition to the status quo; theirs and ours. Not only are they infused with the spirit of independence and exploration, but they are also in tune with their desires.
There are few acts more punk than orgasming, loud and long, when the world wants you to shut up and behave yourself.
Generally speaking, erotica is a repository for fantasies, both commonplace and forbidden. The world of steampunk is often one of theocracy, conservatism, rigid class structures, and rampant technological progress. The parallels with our own society are not hard to find, and it is easy to sympathize with these brave men and women, and easier still to fantasize about them.
All this is not to say, however, that pornographic steampunkery is nothing but preachy metaphor with tits thrown in. No, there is just as much scatological humor as there are poignant movements of flesh. Corsetted heroes gleefully frolic with goggled air pirates. The cheeky writers telling their stories come up with words like cunnotage, and do everything in their power to make their gallant protagonists sweat. It's funny, it's thought-provoking, and it's very very hot.
And it is completely deserving of the "punk" suffix. Humans coming together, regardless of creed or nation, to howl and scream and groan and grind is, well, beautiful. It's a rough and pure poetry that flies in the face of arbitrary rules, and speaks of the essential core we all share. And hey, if some people like their freedom-fucking with a side of leather and clockwork, that just adds color to the dreamscape.
J. Blackmore is an assistant editor at Circlet Press. (http://www.circletpress.com) She is the editor of Circlet's steampunk erotica trilogy, Like a Wisp of Steam, Like Clockwork, and Like a Corset Undone. These books can be purchased at the Circlet website, or at Fictionwise.com and Amazon.com
Also, my steampunk blog is at http://sexinsepia.blogspot.com
Buy Links for Like A Corset Undone (KB: Don't miss Like a Wisp of Steam and Like Clockwork, also from Circlet. I reviewed Like A Wisp of Steam for Erotica Revealed and loved it!)