The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century introduced humanity to a world of possibilities fueled by coal and imagination. Steampunk is that world as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne thought it might become – a more advanced Victorian age where man can venture under the sea, journey to the moon or to the center of the earth, or merely cross land and air through mechanical power.
The idea of “Steampunk” is a creature of the 1880’s and the 1980’s, two time periods that were shifting with technological change. Steam engines were changing the landscape of the world on one end, computers were changing how we think and connect on the other. In 1984, William Gibson’s book Neuromancer brought the cyberpunk genre to prominence, and Steampunk riffed on the high-tech aspect with a 19th century spin. “Victoriana with knobs on” is how the Guardian describes it, and Gibson’s 1990 book, The Difference Engine cemented its status as a genre.
The original Steampunks were a small group of writers: KW Jeter (Morlock Night, Infernal Devices), James P Blaylock (Homunculus), and Tim Powers (Anubis Gates), who all published their books between 1979 and 1987. The movement today comes from that literary heritage and has expanded to be a hobby, a passion, an ideal, even a lifestyle.
We realize there are sub-genres, such as:
- And Bustlepunk
Four our purposes, Steampunk is technology, fashion, style, and art using materials that were reasonably do-able in Victorian London. We like Doctor Fantastique’s definition of What Steampunk Means too – that everyone should be free to interpret it in their own way. Ultimately, if it’s Steampunk to you, it’s Steampunk to us.