May 20, 2024


Science It Works

What Is Steampunk?

You may have heard this curious phrase bandied about in the media recently, along with pictures of people dressed in Victorian clothes and outfits, sporting all manner of unusual accessories. You may have thought to yourself what the deuce is this?

The term Steampunk originated in the 1980’s and is used to describe a subculture of Science Fiction and Fantasy with an emphasis on alternative history.

The worlds of Steampunk typically focus on the period largely known as the Victorian Era with many stories set in Britain and America, although there are a number of International Adventures and a large Steampunk following in Japan. Because many of these adventures involve all manner of strange, unusual and antiquated modes of transport, these tales can take place anywhere above, below or even inside the world!

Although the term Steampunk has been credited to the Author K. W. Jeter when coining a phrase for the books of Tim Powers and James Blaylock, you can find its early influences in the works of HG Wells and Jules Verne. The Time Machine and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea could certainly be viewed as highly influential works and references for future authors.

Steampunk isn’t reflected in any one form, there are books, graphic novels, Jewelry, Fashion, animations and clothes. You can often find Steampunk influences creeping into many art forms, as well as video games and Role Playing Games.

There are a huge number of websites dedicated to this exciting genre, with new sites and fan pages appearing daily. There are also a number of shops which carry a range of all manner of products including Steampunk Jewelry, Quill Pens, USB Drives and Goggles.

Because Steampunk is a fairly loose term, people create all manner of captivating interpretations, indeed Steampunk can often be both a fascinating, inventive and wholly eccentric genre.

Recently, the world of Steampunk has been creeping into the mainstream, through bands like Abney Park, video games and television series.

A large Steampunk influenced upcoming release is Bioshock Infinity which is a videogame set to ship in 2012. The game takes place in a city above the clouds and carries many clear Steampunk and Dieselpunk influences.

Films with Steampunk subjects include Wild Wild West, Steamboy and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen also has Steampunk influences, although the film was seen by many as a disappointment and the graphic novel of the same name is often seen as superior.

YouTube also has many short films and Steampunk animations which are well worth a look.