An Open Letter To Steampunk Fandom
Jeff’s note: One of the things I love about Steampunk is the fact that it has been enormously low on melodrama (ironic, considering how popular the melodrama was as a dramatic format in Victorian times!) As a movement created/built around no single person, and with the ability to look at other movements and say, “Goodness! Those people were torn apart by unnecessary battles of egos, selfishness, and/or grandstanding. Let’s not do that!” – Steampunk’s been practically idyllic.
One of the few downsides of this is that a few people have taken advantage of the general Steampunk desire to live and let live. Well, actually, I can’t really say “a few people” – I can only really say one person. Ask nearly any group of people who’ve organized events in the Steampunk community for more than two or three years, and those organizers will confidentially mention how badly they’ve been hurt by a woman named Evelyn Kreite.
Now, you’re reading this on my website, which is clearly biased – and you may or may not know me. You certainly have no reason to take my word that Evelyn is a poor influence on the Steampunk scene; you may or may not know that, in the years I’ve been involved in Steampunk, I’ve never actually come out and made a public statement that any person was negative or to be avoided, and that my doing so now is literally a first for me. I do not give you her name in the thought that you’ll read my words and take up arms against someone you may never have heard of. I give you her name because I want to be specific in why I’ve published the letter below.
The catalyst for this letter was that Evelyn finally engaged in an abuse of power so public, so egregious, and so well-documented that it essentially could not be denied; there are pretty much only two reasonable interpretations of these events – Either Evelyn made a mistake so gigantic and unlikely that it pretty much denies belief, or she blatantly destroyed the work of dozens of other people in order to further her own ends. That story is documented here, in The Steampunk Chronicle, in an article by author Karina Cooper: http://steampunkchronicle.com/ArticleView/tabid/238/ArticleId/284/Greasing-the-Gears-Scandalizing-Society-behaviors.aspx.
Again: I do not ask you to take me at my word – and the above article only details this last incident, and not Evelyn’s historical misdeeds. But I do not wish to publish this letter without being fair to the accused: I believe that Evelyn Kreite does harm, and when I speak of a threat to the community, I will name it. Evelyn is not Voldemort; I am not afraid of her response.
Evelyn and I were friends once. I have seen her do some good things – they’ve just eventually been massively outweighed by attacks and harmful behaviors. I do not wish her harm. I wish that she would go away.
And the letter is here:
Over the last five years the Steampunk Community has grown by leaps and bounds through social media, publishing, film, art, conventions, and many more diverse avenues. Even as Steampunk’s success draws it into the mainstream popularity, what remains vibrant and unique about the community is that it is an open source fandom; no one entity owns Steampunk; we all do.
This shared ownership naturally brings with it a varied spectrum of ideas, definitions, practices, influence, and responsibility. Everyone has a say in what Steampunk can be, but inevitably there are some who through their work and prominence in the Community bear more influence on the Steampunk movement, and with this comes a greater responsibility and commitment. Frequently these esteemed Steampunks will be featured guests at events and conventions, sharing their experiences and knowledge with the wider Steampunk Community; it is a wonderful thing to see individuals and groups who genuinely care about the movement using their talents and skills to build up others and promote Steampunk culture.
It is, however, unfortunate that there are some prominent Steampunks who have and will use their influence and positions of power in negative fashions to promote their own agenda at the expense of others. Abuse of power to censor others or threaten them creates a toxic environment that works counterintuitively to all that makes the Steampunk Community great. Recently there has been an increase in these negative behaviors that have prompted many Steampunk and Alternative History Convention organizers to confer and agree to take a form of action on the topic.
The undersigned Conventions have reached consensus that individuals or groups who display destructive behaviors and negative actions towards the works, careers, and reputations of others in the Steampunk Community will not be invited to participate as guests, speakers, panelists, or hosts of any talks or lectures at their events. The undersigned Convention organizers are unified in disassociating themselves from anyone whom they consider harmful to the spirit and culture of this fandom.
Civility, honor, and integrity are some of the highest held values in the Steampunk Community and the organizers of the undersigned Conventions encourage the continued practice of these values, especially in those who bear positions of responsibility. The goal of the undersigned Conventions is to maintain a safe, fun, and nurturing environment for fans of Steampunk and Alternate History; let’s enjoy this wonderful thing that we share.
Others of the undersigned will make their own individual announcements on this subject.
Steampunk Empire Symposium
The Steampunk World’s Fair