Is steampunk historically specific, or could any genre story benefit from a few more cogs and zeppelins? What are the pros and cons of exporting the steampunk aesthetic to stories set in other times and places? Can ‘the future that never was’ be extricated from the past it definitely did have? In other words, can you have steampunk without empire, and all that implies?
High fantasy is almost invariably set in invented worlds inspired by medieval Europe. Can we put this down to the legacy of Tolkien and to genre works being in close conversation with each other? Or is there something about the place that medieval Europe occupies in our imagination that makes it a perfect companion for tales of epic striving and larger-than-life Good versus Evil? Either way, does this help or hinder the genre?