With a combination of fantastical and anachronistic technologies and neo-Victorian settings, steampunk emerged from a niche genre to a widespread phenomenon. But this, in turn, raised urgent questions about the “punk”-ness of steampunk and the extent to which it can critique, avoid, and repurpose the Victorian trappings that it adopts. This article examines one such query: whether steampunk can interrogate its ableist underpinnings and, particularly, whether Australian steampunk writers do so in a way that is distinctly Australian. Beginning with a brief overview of Australian steampunk and the genre’s conflicted approach to disability aesthetics and roleplaying, the author examines three case studies: the invisibility of disability in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century proto-steampunk stories, prosthetics as a vehicle for imperial trauma, and the recurrent motif of the clockwork heart. As Australian steampunk exists outside the genre’s mainstream, so too is it able to speak to the marginal elements, such as underlying ableism, that the mainstream too often ignores.
"No Stairs in the Bush? Disability and Australian Steampunk,"
Antipodes: Vol. 36:
1, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/antipodes/vol36/iss1/11