I've been doing a lot of research. Some of it is story specific and some of it is just to get a better feel of the Victorian background to Steampunk world creation. And this is where it gets serious. I blogged a bit about the dark side. I though I knew how dark it got.
Seems I didn't.
The depths of squalor and cruelty into which the Victorian poor were pushed beggars modern belief. to ignore it as we write is more than just missing out on a whole and critical aspect of the world(s) we create. It's doing a disservice to history. I'm not pretending for a moment that Steampunk shouldn't be fun but, as in Ursula K. LeGuin's 'the ones who walk away from Omelas' someone somewhere is paying the price, always, for the comfort and affluence of the few. In a sense all that has happened over recent years is that the Victorian slums that housed the anonymous workers - who literally built the Victorian's world - have moved further out of sight to Mumbai and China. At least there the squalor that is the price to pay for cheap goods is not in our faces every day.
I'm not suggesting for a moment that all folks should write are socially corrective reformist works with a moral, but that it should be in there, somewhere. Ignoring it is not an option IMHO.
Want to write a ripping yarn that grips us? Want your worlds to have depth and realism? Then show us the dark as well as the light.