St Augustin

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
Who lives sees much, who travels sees more.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travel to another time, another place - Steampunk and Victorian England.

Hi there!

It might sound dumb of me, but I haven't understood "steampunk" -- what it is, who are famous "steampunk" writers, and how is it currently developing?

To answer many of my questions, a wonderful book, full of gorgeous illustrations and "steampunk" history, landed on the desk at my local library.

What I've learned so far...

  • Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy literature, primarily concerned with alternative history, especially an imaginary 'Victorian era' when steam power and mechanical clockwork dominated technology. 
  • Earliest literary works of Steampunk chronicled a future that never happened, one in which the Industrial Revolution took a different direction.
  • Steampunk stories feature the technology and at times the attitudes of today filtered through the past, hence the 'punk' appellation.
  • Steampunk has grown to encompass film and television, graphic novels and computer games, music and fashion.
  • The word "steampunk" was coined by writer K.W. Jeter who suggested the label when submitting a story to Locusmagazine.
  • Victorian fantasies a la Jeter, Blaylock and Powers lay the groundwork for a huge explosion of the genre across all media. These authors drew on the classic science fiction of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • There is no one definition that encompasses everything given the label -- the adventures of mad scientists travelling the world in airships, steam-driven robots and pseudo-Victorian or at times Edwardian settings. 
So, Steampunk is in the eye of the beholder. It can take readers to worlds of land leviathans and cannon-shots, to the moon, to lost civilizations. It provides alternate histories in which the British Empire never fell or the atom was never split.

No wonder there are so many "steampunk" fans out there. 

  • How about you? Do you read Steampunk? Do you have any questions?