2011, for all its faults, was a pretty good year for steampunk, but where do we go from here? I asked a people from all different parts of the steampunk community where they thought steampunk was going in 2012. Not everyone had time to answer, given how busy things are this time of year, but the answers I did get paint a very encouraging view of our current trajectory. Here’s what they had to say:

The possibilities are wide open and I don’t care where steampunk goes so long as tea is along for the journey.

Gail CarrigerGail Carriger, @gailcarriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate novels, the most recent being Heartless.

I think Steampunk is going to Mars in 2012. There’s been a shocking lack of space travel thus far.

Kady CrossKady Cross, @KadyCross, author of the award winning The Girl in the Steel Corset.

In 2012, Steampunk will step even more into the fashion and entertainment mainstream. Some people think this is a bad thing, but all I can say is bring it on. The more people show an interest in something, the more ideas get brought to the proverbial table — if I’m a proponent of anything it’s the free flow of ideas and information between communities. Because of this new flowering of Steampunk into the mainstream, I see more people getting involved in conventions and more artists creating interesting things in this style. Some people want the community to remain small and insular. Me? I say bring on the masses.

Matt DelmanMatt Delman, @mattdelman, publisher and executive editor of Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders, publisher of Doctor Fantastique Books.

We’re going to see Steampunk peak in mainstream culture by the end of 2012. With Justin Bieber’s Steampunk Christmas video, some might say Steampunk is already dead, but I disagree. From that to the Steampunk episode of Castle to movies like Hugo and Sherlock Holmes to countless examples of new Steampunk books and graphic novels, Steampunk is still ramping up. 2012 has three times as many Steampunk-exclusive conventions than 2011, which had three times than 2010. It’s still growing. By Christmas 2012, Steampunks will no longer have to explain what “Steampunk” means. It will be recognized by mainstream culture as an aesthetic and artistic movement. Many Steampunks, used to thriving on the fringes of society, see this as a negative thing, which I suppose it could be, as it likely means we’ll see the decline of the Steampunk aesthetic in mainstream starting around 2014/2015, but trends come and go. Steampunk will be around far longer than the fickle mainstream holds onto it, and it will continue to be a place of inspiration and beauty on the fringes of society and in the hearts of Steampunks worldwide.

O.M. GreyO.M. Grey, @omgrey, blogger at Caught in the Cogs, author of Avalon Revisited.

I’ve never quite been interested in questions of “Where is X going?” because so far as I’m concerned, where something like steampunk goes depends entirely on where the people who are fans of steampunk want it to go. And the factions of fans are so different from each other, intersecting each other, that the only fair answer for the question of “where is steampunk going?” is “places.”

I can, however, tell where I would like steampunk to NOT go, especially with regards to the move towards multiculturalism, which I’ve already expressed on Silver Goggles: I do not want steampunks to continue the route of appropriation and marginalization of non-dominant cultures that are not Victorian / Western European. I do not want steampunks to go the route of uncritical acceptance of thoughtless “re-inventions” or “re-discoveries” even if they are well-meaning and done out of “love and respect.” I do not want steampunks to go the route of ignorance and assumption that everything is okay, when they could be doing more to not actively alienate non-white peoples who live with the racism that’s the legacy of the colonialism in the era steampunk draws inspiration from. Do I think steampunk is going that direction? Sure. But there’re some of us who have always been about creating more discourse in steampunk, more critical conversations, more spaces for activism. I imagine we will keep doing so, no matter where else steampunk goes.

Jaymee GohJaymee Goh, @jhameia, blogger at Silver Goggles, co-host of #steampunkchat.

Speaking in terms of fiction, 2012 could be an important year for steampunk as a sub-genre of science fiction/fantasy. There seems to be a growing awareness of the term in the reading public at large, and there is certainly more steampunk fiction in the pipeline. We hear other authors saying “I’m going to write a steampunk novel” in the same way that they used to say “I’m going to write a vampire novel” or “epic fantasy” or “YA fantasy”. In other words, steampunk has become a destination genre for growing numbers of readers, and therefore, publishers and writers. But can steampunk increase the growth it has experienced over the last few years? Can the genre sustain the interest of general readers along the same lines as vampires or elves or zombies? The question seems to be a combination of how deep is the reading public’s appetite for neo-Victoriana, and can steampunk be flexible enough so that it doesn’t become bogged down in a stream of proto-19th century tales of super gears and atomic top hats? But, as the genre tries to stretch its limits, when does it cease to be “steampunk”? That’s the really interesting part of the genre’s future.

Clay and Susan GriffithClay & Susan Griffith, @clayandsusan, authors of The Vampire Empire books: The Greyfriar and The Rift Walker.

Completely opposite to the recent holiday sentiment, I think that steampunk is far from dead. In fact, with Martin Scorsase’s HUGO grabbing the attention of film critics and awards, I think more and more people are going to want to know what steampunk is and how far you can challenge the imagination. I think you are also going to see in 2012 even more imaginative creations coming from vendors we know well like Steampunk Funk Emporium and Brute Force Studios, and those who “glue gears on it and call it steampunk” will find themselves either stepping up to the plate with something fantastic or trying to break into another trend elsewhere. In literature, there will also be new and exciting stories hitting the bookshelves. Trust me on this one, and I know Pip and I will be seeing the release of The Janus Affair: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel in May of 2012 along with Volume 2 of Tales from the Archives, launching in March on iTunes.

2011 was a good year for steampunk, and I believe 2012 will be an even better time.

Tee MorrisTee Morris, @TeeMonster, co-editor at The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, co-author of Phoenix Rising.

Steampunk will continue on its current course in 2012: primarily using an Anglo-American background with the traditional steampunk motifs tropes, plot lines, and character types. However, the current trend of increasing stories conceiving of steampunk in broader terms will increase as well. If steampunk is now 90% Anglo-American, by the end of 2012 it will be only 75% Anglo-American, with 25% neither 19th or 20th century or British or American. The definition of steampunk itself will continue to change, and become even less coherent than it is now.

I see clear skies for airships on the horizon. The traditional steampunks will add depth to their designs and storylines while new blood from pop culture sources will lend new twists to shows, cons and music. There’s still room in television and film to re-interpret existing screenplays with steampunk elements, both obvious and subtle. It’s a year of creative inspiration.

Nancy OverburyNancy Overbury, @nancyoverbury, blogger at Overbury Ink and founder of #steamTuesday.

I’m not much of a culture forecaster, but my guess is that all the mainstream expressions we saw this last year will increase in the next. Hipster steampunks will abandon the scene, superciliously invoking the “I only do it when it’s alternative” exit clause. Those who really enjoy it for its own sake, not its cool factor, are going to keep on enjoying it. I think what is really important as it does go mainstream is that steampunk cons, communities, and clubs stay as welcoming and warm as they were when I first entered the scene in ’08. This isn’t the time to be looking down our noses at newcomers. It’s a time for being excited about the critical mass building. I know lots of people feel like the thing gets wrecked when the masses descend, but as Tolkien fan, I found the time around the Jackson films a real pleasure, as it didn’t take excessive preamble to explain Middle Earth or Hobbits anymore.

Mike PerschonMike Perschon, @SteamScholar, blogger at Steampunk Scholar.

Well, for one, I believe that the subculture will continue to grow, and an even broader range of people are going to be exposed to it. The current fans, and folks that consider themselves the representatives of Steampunk may not like acts like T-Pain, and Justin Bieber co-opting their aesthetic, but the fact is, anytime a major media figure dabbles in an underground subculture, it causes an influx of new blood.

Sure a lot of those new fans may only be into it for a hot minute, but there will inevitably be a good amount of people that attach themselves to the style, and become the next generation of artists, crafters, musicians, etc. that will represent the style in the future.

I think that another big change will be in the Steampunk music scene. I’ve been following the development of Steampunk focused musical acts for the past 8 years or so, and in the past year or two, a huge influx has occurred. I can already tell you I have lost track of all of the new artists that have been popping up on my radar lately. Next year, I just see this getting even more overwhelming. I also see even more mainstream Pop/Electronic/and Rock musicians dabbling in Steampunk for several more years.

Oh and (gratuitous plug) we plan on having our own release “The Consequences of Time Travel” finished for all of you next year as well (This album is a huge departure from our previous material, and I’m really excited to see how Steampunk fans, and music fans in general react to it). lol.

Josh PfeifferJoshua Pfeiffer, @VernianProcess, singer/songerwriter for Vernian Process.

Well, I hope 2012 is the year steampunk goes to Hollywood in a serious fashion. I was thrilled when J.J. Abrams picked up BOILERPLATE last year, and can’t wait to see what becomes of that project; and of course, I’m looking forward to watching the production on BONESHAKER. Steampunk is still looking for a major motion picture that (a). isn’t quietly terrible, and (b). gives more than a nod to the genre style – and when this finally occurs, I think we’ll make the official leap to mainstream awareness.

Cherie PriestCherie Priest, @cmpriest, author of the award-winning Clockwork Century books: Boneshaker, Dreadnought, and Ganymeded.

Steampunk shows no sign of being dead, like some would wish, or even dying, as other have proclaimed. In all of my daily reading and research, I only see steampunk, all of its expression, and the community as a whole growing and expanding.

Certainly, steampunk is not for everyone, and there are those people who will leave their interest and participation behind, moving on to other things. But for each person who exits, more people enter. Each day, steampunk gains a little more ground in public awareness. People who managed to miss dozens of news articles, newspaper cartoons, movies, and fashion trends in the last few years still manage to find their way tot he steampunk community.

Despite the challenges of the economy, or maybe because of it, more people are participating in the various expressions of steampunk creativity. There are easily twice as many books released this year than last; there are more conventions to attend around the country and around the world, both first year and veteran conventions and attendance at those events continues to rise.

So, steampunk in 2012? More of everything – more events, more expressions, more people, more friendships. With all of that, there will be more discussions, more debates, and more analysis. Hopefully, though, through it all, we will all have more fun, enjoyment and excitement!

Kevin SteilKevin Steil, @AirshipEmbassy, runs Airship Embassy.

So that’s where steampunk is going in 2012 in a baker’s dozen of opinions. But steampunk is a giant and growing community and all opinions are valuable, including your’s. So, where do you thing steampunk is going in 2012? Leave a comment and let us know.