很久沒有作科幻研究閱讀筆記了，這篇也不算收錄在研究專書裡面，而是今年九月號 Locus 的 "Steampunk Unpacked" 專題第一篇。Bruce Sterling 當年為 Mirrorshades 寫序，可謂替 cyberpunk 奠定開宗明義的立論基礎（筆記在此）。此番再戰江湖，同樣為 steampunk 另立標竿，足見他對科幻（次）文類歷史分析仍有獨到的見地。
Bruce Sterling, "Historypunk and Futuritypunk" in Locus #596 (Sep 2010), p. 32.
首先正本清源，steampunk 一詞正是來自於 1987 年四月，K. W. Jeter 寫給 Locus 的投書：
Google did not inform me that the neologism "steampunk" first appeared in Locus magazine in April 1987. Although it did. Way back in the letter-column. From K. W. Jeter.
No Locus, no steampunk. That simple.（Jeter 投書全文見同頁右下角方塊。）
接下來試圖解釋當時 steampunk 開始有作品（Jeter、Blaylock、Powers），卻無法興盛（亦即傳統科幻 fandom 沒辦法承載 steampunk），得等到網路時代的原因：
...... Steampunk is not inherently literary. It's native to network cyberculture. Steampunk direly needed broadband and social media in order to thrive. Steampunk was never about ink on paper.
Traditional sci-fi fandom, which came out of radio parts catalogs and drifted into paper fanzines and conventions, could not support steampunk. The media economics were hostile, the barriers-to-entry were too high, and the search costs were prohibitive. Given Internet, though, steampunk fans could aggregate into a critical mass.
接著探討其興起從何而來。是 Sterling 和 Gibson 合著的 The Difference Engine (1990)，還是 BoingBoing 的倡導？Sterling 從科幻對未來和歷史的觀照提出他的看法，並力主 steampunk 和 cyberpunk 的相對性並不存在：
Science fiction is about futurity, they say, while history is about the past. Steampunk, by ominous contrast, is a cybercultural, countercultural venture whose reason for being is to blur, subvert, erase or transcend those temporal differences. In practice, it's a teenage fangirl in a Gothic corset, a naive protagonist carrying tomorrow on her back. At its high end, steampunk is a twenty-first century cultural space where the strictures of analog text can no longer define our relationship to the passage of time.
In other words -- in the words of Locus -- it's all about 1987, when the schools of "steampunk" and "cyberpunk" were in supposed opposition. That opposition didn't exist. Steampunks and cyberpunks were collegial artist working on the same conceptual problems.