Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.
Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine.
Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian.
Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.
In general, the category includes any recent science fiction that takes place in a recognizable historical period (sometimes an alternate history version of an actual historical period) where the Industrial Revolution has already begun but electricity is not yet widespread, with an emphasis on steam- or spring-propelled gadgets. The most common historical steampunk settings are the Victorian and Edwardian eras, though some in this “Victorian steampunk” category can go as early as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Some examples of this type include the novel The Difference Engine, the comic book series League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Disney animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and the roleplaying game Space: 1889. Some, such as the comic series Girl Genius, have their own unique times and places despite partaking heavily of the flavor of historic times and settings.
Karel Zeman’s film The Fabulous World of Jules Verne from 1958 is a very early example of cinematic steampunk. Based on Jules Verne novels, Zeman’s film imagines a past based on those novels which never was. Other early examples of historical steampunk in cinema include Hayao Miyazaki’s anime films such as Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986).
Historical steampunk usually leans more towards science fiction than fantasy, but there have been a number of historical steampunk stories that incorporated magical elements as well. For example, Morlock Nights by K. W. Jeter revolves around an attempt by the wizard Merlin to raise King Arthur to save the Britain of 1892 from an invasion of Morlocks from the future. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers involves a cabal of magicians among the beggars and thieves of the early 19th century London underworld.
Paul Guinan’s Boilerplate, the biography of a robot in the late 19th century, began as a website that garnered international press coverage when people began believing that Photoshop images of the robot with historic personages were real. The site was adapted into an illustrated hardbound book Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel, and published by Abrams in October 2009. Because the story was not set in an alternate history, and in fact contained accurate information about the Victorian era, some booksellers referred to the tome as “historical steampunk”.
Because of the popularity of steampunk with goths, punks, cybergoths, industrial music fans, gamers, and geeks, there is a growing movement towards establishing steampunk as a culture and lifestyle. Some fans of the genre adopt a steampunk aesthetic through fashion, home decor, music, and film. This may be described as neo-Victorianism, which is the amalgamation of Victorian aesthetic principles with modern sensibilities and technologies. Some have proposed a steampunk philosophy, sometimes with punk-inspired anti-establishment sentiments, and typically bolstered by optimism about human potential.
Steampunk fashion has no set guidelines, but tends to synthesize modern styles influenced by the Victorian era. This may include gowns, corsets, petticoats and bustles; suits with vests, coats and spats; or military-inspired garments. Steampunk-influenced outfits will often be accented with a mixture of technological and period accessories: timepieces, parasols, goggles and ray guns. Modern accessories like cell phones or music players can be found in steampunk outfits, after being modified to give them the appearance of Victorian-made objects. Aspects of steampunk fashion have been anticipated by mainstream high fashion, the Lolita fashion and aristocrat styles, neo-Victorianism, and the romantic goth subculture.
Steampunk music is even less defined, as Caroline Sullivan says in The Guardian: “internet debates rage about exactly what constitutes the steampunk sound.” This range of steampunk musical styles can be heard in the work of various steampunk artists, from the industrial dance/world music of Abney Park, the inventor/singer-songwriter creations of Thomas Truax, the Carnatic influenced music of Sunday Driver, the “industrial hip-hop opera” of Doctor Steel, and the darkwave and synthpunk sounds of Vernian Process and the Unextraordinary Gentlemen.
In 2006, SalonCon, the first ever Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, was held. It ran for three consecutive years and featured artists, musicians (Voltaire and Abney Park), authors (Catherynne M. Valente, Ekaterina Sedia, and G.D. Falksen), salons led by people prominent in their respective fields, workshops and panels on Steampunk as well as a seance, ballroom dance instruction, and the Chrononauts’ Parade. The event was covered by MTV and The New York Times for their respective articles on the subculture.
Since 1997, an annual two-day masquerade ball called the Labyrinth of Jareth has been held in Hollywood, CA, where revelers come dressed in costumes inspired by the film Labyrinth, Venetian masquerades, and steampunk. It has become a major Southern California event, and regularly attended by many steampunk notables.
Steampunk has also become a regular feature at San Diego Comic-Con International in recent years, with the Saturday of the four-day event being generally known among steampunks as “Steampunk Day”, and culminating with a photoshoot for the local press. The Saturday steampunk “after-party” has also become a major event on the steampunk social calendar; in 2010 the headliners included The Slow Poisoner, Unextraordinary Gentlemen and Voltaire, with Veronique Chevalier as Mistress of Ceremonies and special appearance by the League of STEAM.
The episode of the TV series Castle entitled “‘Punked”, which aired on October 11, 2010, prominently featured the steampunk subculture and used a number of Los Angeles-area steampunks as extras.
One movie that is famous for steam punk examples is Wild Wild West with Will Smith:
The villain in this movie has a steam powered wheel chair.
I think that the whole steampunk movement is really interesting. I love alternative retro lifestyles and styles. I personally wouldn’t dress up like a steampunk but I can completely appreciate the style and uniqueness of it. They have so many photos of examples of what steampunk is all about. Most items are made of wood, brass, silver, copper, pipes, vents, and cast iron. I love this computer desk (the guy who built this also owns the steampunk house):
As well as the nixie clocks. These are so awesome. I have always liked tube operated objects. This is an example of a Steampunk Nixie clock:
Nixie Clock is a unique and limited clock which come with Steam-punk design. If you are a Steampunk collector or you love to collect Steampunk device the Nixie Steampunk will be your perfect collection since this is a limited edition device that will be created for 10 unit only.
The Nixie Steampunk Clock limited edision run in a 6 x IN-18 Nixie Tubes with measures 213mm tall, 167mm wide and 399mm long, The Nixie glass was made from Pyrex toughened glass, solid and brass machined parts. Unfortunately there is no word on pricing yet, but at least you may guess this device will be a very expensive device because of its limitation.
below are photos that really caught my eye. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading,