What is Steampunk ?

What is Steampunk?

In three short words:  Victorian Science Fiction.


Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century.  This period had its own science fiction, perhaps most famously embodied by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  So although the lines between Steampunk and period Victorian are extremely narrow, they do have a vast differences.  


The Victorians were imagining a future that looked dramatically un-modern to our modern eyes, but held a world of imagination and fantasy to these early 19th century people.  Submarines, space travel, aircraft and mechanized life were all imagined by the Victorians.  Read by many Victorians, Jules Vern enchanted the imaginations by his most popular writings including a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days.  In these books of mysterious flying machines and creative underwater ships, the true version of Steampunk was born.


Now, if you want to really research Steampunk, you will find thousands of articles online, all of which vary as to what you can say is ‘real’ Steampunk.  That is because Steampunk is not one particular genre.  Are you more American “Wild West” (shown in the tv series Wild Wild West) or are you more Goth, or pure Punk, which was a reference to the cyberpunk genre following the Second World War.  There are as many answers to “What is Steampunk” as to what people wear and call Steampunk.  


But for our purposes, we are going to go with our original 3 words: Victorian Science Fiction.  Yes, the clothing starts with a Victorian look, but that is just where Steampunk starts.  It’s a story, a character.  You need to be prepared to tell people who you are: Are you a dirigible captain?  A keeper of a Star Gate?  Have you seen the insides of the submarine Nautilus?  To just put on a Victorian dress and call it Steampunk, is a disservice to Steampunk.  Create!  Get into a story, don’t let people guess if you are supposed to be Steampunk, let no one misunderstand!  


“It’s sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans.”


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Fabulous Steampunk computer

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They do GREAT guns !

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Awesome gun...

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What’s your character… archiologist?

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Defender of the Galaxy ?

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The STUFF is what Steampunk is all about

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Great hat

Steampunk Convention

Our fabulous Steampunk brethren to the South - the Steampunk Convention in Tucson


                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012