So What is Steampunk Anyway?
Two weeks ago I was at a Steampunk con in Portland ,OR called GEARcon. There were a lot of people dressed up in very authentic late Victorian costumes with a twist.
And that twist is where the punk in Steam punk comes from. I was there because my debut novel The Peculiars has a whiff of Steampunk to it. Maybe more than a whiff. I’d call it Steampunk light, but more about that later.
During the con I was on a panel of twelve authors, the panel was unmoderated and twelve is definitely too many authors for maybe even a moderated panel, but some interesting questions came up. What exactly is Steampunk anyway? How does it fit in with the latest dystopian craze?
So here’s my best attempt at answering, based on my thoughts about Steampunk combined with what the other authors shared. My favorite definition of Steampunk is: alternate history and fantasy with a side of sci-fi. Think about the industrial revolution. We were on the edge of wonder, Darwin was new, science was going to save us and steam was the emerging technology. A pretty optimistic view of the world. Now picture steam power being the future technology of choice. Think steam powered typewriters, computers, air travel, technology that never really existed in the mid to late 1880’s. Some authors spend a great deal of time on the technology, but for me, the technology takes a back seat to character and atmosphere. I also wanted the real 1888 to bleed through into my story. And I think it does. Even if I did add goblins. So, the Steampunk world takes the Victorian world and adds a twist, turns it sideways while still keeping the Victorian style and ambience. Remember the old Wild Wild West show? Or think Golden Compass.
The views were split on the panel about whether or not Steampunk is hopeful. Some authors create a dark dystopian steampunk future. After current technology is gone, we return to steam. I like to think of it as a time when we were on the brink of exploration, a time ripe with possibility. And it was promising until the government started spreading rumors of Peculiars and sending anyone who looked different into exile to work the coal mines of Scree. Oh, wait, that’s just my book…
Happy to be the new blogger!