How many things can end in “-punk?”

Entertainment Weekly‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review of 9 contains a puzzling error about 4 paragraphs in:

The expanded cast of creatures looks great, dressed and animated in the homespun style Acker calls ”stitchpunk. (Fans of Acker’s original film devised the term ”steampunk” to describe the machine-y nuts-and-bolts-and-scrap-metal aesthetic that defines the movie’s look and the characters’ environment.)”

Commentors, of course, have pointed out that, no, Acker’s fans had little to do with the “steampunk” name, since it has been around for quite some time. I’m willing to give Schwarzbaum the doubt-benefit. We all screw up, especially when deadlines are tight. I’d like to see a correction, mind, but won’t hold my breath.

Still, her error leads me to think about a couple of things.

Thing one: Cherie Preist (Boneshaker, most recently) seems to be on steampunk’s dirigible-filled cutting edge. She’s collating a steampunk primer over at the Clockwork Century, which is devoted to information about both her books and the sub-genre at large.

Thing two: What will be the next “-punk” niche? Fuzzypunk? Filkerpunk? Olderwhiteguypunk? Or something else entirely?

8 thoughts on “How many things can end in “-punk?”

  • September 21, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Nobody knows anything about anything—and that includes reporters. Over the years, I've seen an endless stream of mispronounced names and words, misspelled names and words, wrong names and words.

    Obituaries are the worst because the reporter, often a generation or more removed from when the "obituee" was most active, talk and act like they have no idea who this person was or what this person had done.

    (Other than that, I read this piece and thought: Gee, I'm glad I'm not the only one to pick up on that mistake.)

  • September 22, 2009 at 4:22 am

    According to Prucher's Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, "steampunk" originally appeared right here in Locus, in a letter from K. W. Jeter in 1987 talking about his own work as well as that of Tim Powers and James Blaylock.

    Since then we've seen entirely too many punkisms, in my view (mannerpunk, biopunk, etc.), and during a party at last year's Masterclass in SF criticism in London we began listing possible further variations, resulting in a catalog of bad puns, which I will refrain from posting on this nice blog. (Graham was there, though, and he may not be as kind. In addition to which I'd had too much wine and can't remember them all.)

    I do remember a suggestion I made at the time, however, namely that the "-punk" suffix has already been flogged pretty much to mulch, and that what we really needed was a new suffix. My suggestion, then as now, was "-core," as in "mumblecore" or "nerdcore." Unfortunately, that led to another round of wine-drenched puns, but it doesn't mean I'm giving up on the idea.

  • September 23, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I predict a lot of stories and novels set in what we may call (at least while we get there and somebody finds a better tag) "between-wars-punk" (panzerpunk maybe?), the same kind of crossover fantasy but this time with such characters as Franz Kafka and Lovecraft instead of Queen Victoria and Dr. Moriarty. Then we'll see "cold-war-punk" (or radiopunk?). Just as it happened with steampunk, there are currently a lot of examples of these new genres, but by the time they emerge they'll be forgotten: Kim Newman's Dracula Cha Cha Cha and the Diogenes Club stories, Alan Moore's Black Dossier, Bruce Sterling's "The Unthinkable", Tim Powers' (once again) Declare and Three Days to Never, Charlie Stross' "A Colder War", "Missile Gap" and the Laundry series.
    We should save time and go straight to anypunk…

  • September 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    It looks like no one here has dug up K. W. Jeter's original letter to LOCUS, so let me note that K. W. was pointing out back then how silly it was to append "punk" to everything. The gist of his letter was, "Jeez, you might as well go and call me and Powers and Blaylock a steampunk movement or something."

    —Gordon V.G.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *