What Is Steampunk?
Posted on November 10 2018
Science fiction has branched out into a variety of subgenres over the years. The steampunk style is more popular subgenres to check out.
It is an intriguing style that is often focused heavily on steam power, steam-powered machines, and technology. It incorporates many of the high-tech and futuristic points of science fiction into a more historic setting.
Today, people are impressed by steampunk for how fascinating it is and how it introduces a variety of exciting concepts into the world of science fiction. This style of science fiction is all about the past being interpreted in a unique way and incorporated into steampunk fashion, steampunk costume, steampunk jewelry, and even steampunk festivals to name but a few.
What Is Steampunk...Really?
Steampunk is a type of science fiction that focuses heavily on designs and concepts from the nineteenth century. This includes concepts from the British Victorian era or the American West.
Steampunk is an exciting world where many steam-powered machines and old technologies are adapted into futuristic concepts. This often entails fantastic machines and devices and plenty of classic settings all the way around. The intriguing nineteenth-century look of steampunk is fascinating for how it mixes in futuristic concepts with history.
A good way to think about steampunk is to take a look at some of the works of famed science fiction authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells or even the works of Mary Shelley. Such stories often entail unique forms of technology from their time period in the nineteenth century being used in a variety of fantastic ways. This is whether it entails Verne’s undersea ships, Wells’ time machine or Shelley’s reanimated man.
Simply put, steampunk is all about fantastic machines and classic settings. The artistic detail that comes with some of these settings especially make this a fascinating form of science fiction to many today.
How Did It Come About?
Steampunk has been used as a team since the 1980s although it has been around in some form well beforehand. In 1959, Mervyn Peake introduced the novel Titus Alone, a Gothic story that incorporates many interesting forms of technology devised in the past as a means of allowing the main character to move around his world.
In 1971, Michael Moorcock published the novel the Warlord of the Air, a story that takes place in Edwardian times and includes fantastic airships and other unique aviation-related technologies that were not actually around at the time. In addition, the television series the Wild Wild West had been popular around the same time as it incorporated some interesting science fiction concepts into its traditional western design.
It was not until 1987, when author K.W. Jeter coined the steampunk term. This came as he was looking for a word to describe the works of people like him who focus on stories involving technology and unique inventions in historic settings. These include stories like his 1987 novel Infernal Devices, a story involving hybrid humans and people who can augment themselves in many ways during the nineteenth century.
Concept of the Name
The steampunk name is essential a tongue in cheek reference to the cyberpunk. This is a style of science fiction that focuses on more digital and computer-based technology. Steampunk goes backwards and looks at unique technology and computer-like items that could have been developed long off in the past.
Why the Punk?
The use of the “punk” term in steampunk comes from how this style of science fiction includes an edgy feel to it. That is, the concept works against the overall concept that people have developed for a normal society.
In the normal world, people expect certain technologies and concepts to be prominent. In the steampunk world, many concepts that had not been around at that particular moment in history are incorporated into the world. This sets the style apart from all others in that it is much more unique and inviting in its overall nature.
The general concept of steampunk is that it goes against the norm. It changes history around and makes something new out of it as a means of telling a fascinating story. This creates an appealing look all the way through that is unlike anything else you might see or hear.
A Style of Alternate History
The general point about steampunk is that it is a form of alternate history. This is a type of science fiction where events in the past happen differently from what they were really like. Sometimes stories are based on fact but the key is that new ideas and concepts are always to be included to make them stand out a little more. This, in turn, results in some of the more interesting stories that people can explore.
Common Design Points
Steampunk focuses on many classic-inspired design points that clearly came from Victorian or American West times. To start, there are many bronze or copper metal accents involved in steampunk. This is to fit in well with the time. Polished brass and wood are often incorporated.
A transparent design can also be seen in many forms. This includes a look at different kinds of gears, pipes, lines, and other things that allow machines to work. This can add an artistic look to anything being depicted in a certain work.
Of course, the use of steam is clearly going to be evident in any steampunk work. This is all to fit in with the steam-powered ethos of the concept. In steampunk, many exhaust pipes that allow steam to come out may be incorporated in some items.
Common Forms of Technology
The technology that is used in steampunk can vary but it often entails the use of antique-styled items that are repurposed for use in futuristic ways. The use of flying machines is especially noticeable. Old dirigibles and other aviation vehicles that predate the real thing are often included as fascinating materials that carry people high up in the sky. Some early automobiles can also be included as part of steampunk culture.
Meanwhile, the use of early computers is a common feature of steampunk. These computers include many gears and pumps, as well as buttons that are very elaborate and detailed with an extensive amount of knowledge on a user’s end required in order to actually get one of these to work properly.
Early robotics is a part of steampunk that is also noticeable. This often includes the development of rudimentary robotic creatures made to try and be humanoid in some form. It is fascinating to look at how such entities are developed in their own different and intriguing ways.
Even physical augmentations are utilized in many forms of steampunk. From glasses that allow for unique visions or hearing devices that can handle a larger variety of sounds, such things that make it easier for people to get physical advantages are often included in steampunk works. The development of unique prosthetic devices that feature various gears and other detailed items can also be found in some of these works.
The fashions of steampunk entail traditional nineteenth century fashions. These include many Wild West or Victorian outfits that involve fine formal dresses or outfits. Leather is prominently used in many of these outfits.
The colors included are typically made to be rather muted. These include darker brown or blue tones. These fit in with the time period and especially match up with some of the older accents that people aim to include in their fashions.
Evolving In Culture
Over the years steampunk has made its way through all kinds of forms of culture. Steampunk literature fascinated people long before the term was even coined. Authors such as James Blaylock and Tim Powers have been writing many stories relating to steampunk concepts over the years. Of course, the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley continue to be essential reading for those interested in this style of science fiction.
Many stories have been introduced in culture in recent time that incorporates many steampunk concepts. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic series is one particularly prominent instance of this. Television programs like Warehouse 13 have used steampunk influences in many cases. Even recent seasons of the long-running science fiction show Doctor Who has utilized steampunk concepts over the years. The different images and other features that make steampunk fascinating and unique to see have especially caused this style to really be something worth checking out in entertainment.
Even steampunk, music is a common concept in the field. This is a style of music that utilizes the piano, accordion, organ, and guitar among other older instruments while mixing in electronic influences all around. This creates some of the more unique sounds that anyone could ever experience. Various artists have been recording steampunk music over the years although Thomas Dolby’s 2011 album A Map Of the Floating City is considered to be a seminal record in the genre.
Common At Conventions
The growth of steampunk has made it to where it is becoming more commonplace in many fan conventions. Many authors and musicians in the world of steampunk often appear at different conventions dedicated to science fiction and other concepts. People often dress in their best steampunk cosplay outfits too. The famed San Diego Comic-Con has particularly incorporated steampunk into the event in recent time.
Renaissance fairs often have special steampunk-themed days. These include days where people dress in medieval costumes and incorporate futuristic technologies into what they have to wear or display. This allows people to be a little more creative and to bend the unique nature of what is included in the time period being depicted.
The best part of steampunk features being included at such conventions is that they allow people to come up with all sorts of ideas. People can develop their own outfits and devices inspired by the genre. The open creativity that comes with steampunk makes it very popular. It is especially open to many interpretations in terms of what people can get out of certain outfits and features that they want to have.
The Development of Retrotronics
A key part of steampunk involves the creation of retrotronics. This is a form of electronics that uses older components to create new items. Vacuum tubes and analogue readers among other older items are often used in retrotronics.
The goal is to create functioning technology that looks and works like something from far off in the past. This adds to the steampunk concept by showing off an older style of technology. Even so, it still creates an astonishing look when prepared right.
The Nixie clock is one particular example of how retrotronics work. This creates a numeric display organized by a series of triggers and circuits while using some wires that display very specific numbers. This is one of the earliest display concepts around and often factors into a variety of steampunk technologies.
The overall key though is to make sure retrotronics are designed to where they could be powered by steam. These include items that are engineered to be fully functional even without traditional power.
Of course, some of the rudimentary forms of electricity that were used at the time may be added into the mix just as well. This is not necessarily a requirement but it can be used in some cases to create a more unique arrangement for technology and how it may be used.
A Fascinating Concept
If there is one thing about steampunk that can be said it is that this is a very unique type of science fiction concept. It is one that is filled with many machines that were inspired by the past and includes a great influence from historic ideas.
The beautiful arrangement of steampunk is something that amazes people to this day. It is certainly a fun and appealing type of entertainment form for people to participate in and enjoy to this day.
Besides, when you look at how great someone looks in a typical steampunk outfit, you might be all the more inspired to participate in this art form. It is truly something worth exploring when it comes to entertainment and science fiction.