Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Introduction to Steampunk

My apologies since this is LONG overdue. I have found that though steampunk has experienced a recent explosion in popularity, there are still plenty of people who are not familiar with what steampunk is, though they may have heard the term before.

There is a bit of difficulty in explaining steampunk as a genre, since it really is quite adaptable and flexible, and extends well beyond a genre of fiction to an aesthetic in clothing, art, and everyday items. As a result this is just a brief overview of steampunk as I see it.

Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative science fiction, that usually takes place during the Victorian time period, or in a world where Victorian aesthetics and ideologies are dominant. However there is the very important addition of technological advances- often steam driven- that did not necessarily exist during the time period and may be far more advanced than even our current technologies, but are always in keeping with the aesthetics of the time period. The technology is often used to try and better the lives of the people and erase the inequalities of society that were so dominant during that time period.

Steampunk, at its earliest, was influenced by writers like H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Mary Shelley, since their works included many fictional technological inventions and prominent elements of science fiction. Though steampunk is often set in Victorian England, you can easily find many stories set in other countries and areas, some settings altogether fictional.

Because there is so much more to steampunk than what I've covered, I encourage you to check out Wikipedia and Tor for more information. Also check out the great postings Tor put up for steampunk month in addition to a great source of all things steampunk via NaNo WriMo.


Jemi Fraser said...

Great post, Calista! I hadn't heard of steampunk before "meeting" you :) It's a very fun genre. My NaNo, as you know, is a YA steampunk. It is a lot of fun creating the steam driven devices. I've centered the mystery/murder around the creation of one device.

I'm finding the genre fun to write - crossing my fingers that it will last. :)

Cali MacKay said...

I'm so excited that you're doing steampunk for Nano! And even more excited that you haven't disowned me for talking your ear off about steampunk. ; )

Can't wait to read it!

Just Wendy said...

Good post Calista. Funnily enough, I only discovered 'Steampunk' recently. Originally from your blog I think!

PS. Your blog is never overdue, unless you have nothing to write about. In your case, you most certainly do :)

Cali MacKay said...

Quill, it really has exploded amongst writers in the last six months or so, though there were hints of it coming even a year or two before that.

As for overdue, I'm glad I still have something to write about. : )

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Great post! It's so interesting to see different authors' takes on steampunk. Excellent explanation. Thank you!

Cali MacKay said...

You're most welcome, Carolina! There really are so many takes on the genre. I like the flexibility and creativity that it allows as a result.

Anissa said...

Thanks for this. My CP's next WIP is going to be a steampunk YA and I had no idea what the whole genre was even about. So cool! She recently went to SteamCon and had a lot of interesting things to share.

Not sure how I found my way over, but I'll definitely be back.

Oh, and I just picked up Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, which is steampunk, I believe.

Nice to cyber-meet you. :)

Cali MacKay said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anissa. It really is an interesting and fun genre.

And yes, Leviathan if considered steampunk, though the time period might set it a little later.

And always a pleasure to meet new people. : )

Jean Oram said...

I hadn't heard of steampunk before you introduced me to it, either. I like the picture you found for this post.

Cali MacKay said...

Thanks Jean! Good ole' Wikipedia! Glad I could add some steam to your life. : )

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the indepth description. I loved the early pioneers of steampunk without realizing there was anything special about them at the time. Not until I met you!

Brooklyn Ann said...

LOL, I thought Steampunk was punk romance, damn, I am a dork.

Cali MacKay said...

Glad I could be of help, Cat!

Annarkie, thanks for the laugh, though you're not alone! No worries, I think everyone had some bizarre ideas when they first heard the term. : )

HAG said...

AWESOME description! Thanks so much! It's hard to describe but you really put the concept to paper. May I link this to my jewelry site for researching jewelry links?


Found your blog posted on Twitter!



Cali MacKay said...

Thank you so much for the compliment, Helen! I'd love for you to link to my blog. It's an honor.

All the best!

Anonymous said...

Thank God I see I'm not the only one who hadn't ever heard the actual phrase Steampunk -- I see a lot of others hadn't either.
I came here after reading Mariblaser's blog on the subject.

I'm happy to report that I've really enjoyed many of the movies you've mentioned, and in fact was particularly intrigued with them for their pseudo futuristic elements set in the Victorian era, or what I'd thought of as the Industrial Age. It was a time of great excitement regarding invention, which happened to have cool clothing.

I'm laughing because all this time I'd been impressed with the production and design teams of those movies, never realizing the concept gained not only an entire following but a Title and clothing. :) Great - Kristi

Cali MacKay said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kristi! And thank you to Mariblaser for sending you.

I'm so happy you find steampunk intriguing. I really think it's such a unique genre that can go in so many different directions. And of course, it's too much fun!

Chip said...

www.steampunkfamily.com has an on going story, with projects and fashion DIY added to the mix.