What is steampunk? Oh, it’s Victorian fashion, steampunk goggles, the steam engine, and clockwork gadgets, right? From another timeline when innovation was rampant and inventions were plenty. That question is getting asked a lot these days now that steampunk is more mainstream, but the truth is it’s not a thing that can be picked up and handled and studied and I would say it means different things to different people. For some it’s a movement, for others it’s a genre, and still again some call it a style. To narrow it down and give it a more all inclusive term, it’s an aesthetic.
A spinoff from cyberpunk, the term steampunk was coined in the late 80’s although literary works exhibiting the core characteristics date back to the 60’s and 70’s . What is the core of steampunk? Steampunk is an alternate timeline, take the Victorian era with it’s clothing, sense of adventure, and, well, the steam engine, and set it off on it’s own course.
Steampunk would not be anything without a sense of Victorian style…and let’s face it, a little aviator debonair doesn’t hurt. Steampunk goggles and corsets, vests and suspenders, waist coats and long coats (what are those called?), it’s all there, and a bomber jacket if you dare.
Now steampunk isn’t about sitting about and drinking tea, it’s about fun and it’s about adventure, so there must be guns! And gadgets, lots of gadgets. The steampunk timeline does carry on, it isn’t quite how we think of the Victorian era, things have happened and evolved and been invented! Where that timeline went is always up for interpretation, but technology didn’t evolve the way we know it today but instead stayed focused around the mechanical and the steam engine. And, of course, there must be airships!
This a simple breakdown of steampunk and it doesn’t nearly cover it the topic. The aesthetic has begun to influence everything from art to jewelry, chances are you’ve enjoyed steampunk movies before without realizing that’s what it was. I think most folks who enjoy any bit of fantasy and sci-fi do enjoy anything steampunk.
There’s a whole world of folks who keep steampunk as a large part of their lives. To say this is all there is to steampunk would be a huge injustice, it means many things to many people. The sheer thought of it becoming more mainstream sends a shudder down some folks backs, but I think it’s exciting, that it brings flavor to our worlds and I for one find it inspiring and am glad to have it!