Thanks, Tor.com, now I have no reason to prattle on as I intended to about steampunk being scifi or fantasy. But I will anyway because I am me and we are here and I reign supreme. Also, let’s be nice (to me) and not bring up what agents/editors/authors/hillbillies have already “decided” elsewhere. Just kidding. But I’m not taking into account what’s been said before I speak.
I think most people would agree that steampunk fiction easily drifts into fantasy – look at Hellboy 2 for some steampunk influence wrapped in fantastical creatures. In my mind, the difference between science fiction and fantasy has largely been, the former could happen (implausibly, hypothetically, whatever) and the latter could not. Sooo, taken with that differentiation, a novel with steampunk influence (or flat-out sp aesthetic) could easily fall farther on the fantasy side than the science fiction side, right?
Does it matter whether or not the novel goes into explanations of why/how the technology works or is the presence of that technology going to make something automatically science fiction? Can you operate on an assumption of “common sense” and still be scifi? I mean, recalling Ender’s Game, things were so vividly painted that I never wondered over how precisely Ender’s desk worked – it was a seamlessly integrated into the story and a lyrical backdrop to the story of Ender himself.
Anyway, in other quandaries – you can call a book a dystopian science fiction literary YA with fantasy elements, right?