Wed
Oct 7 2009 6:23pm

Steampunk 101

What is steampunk?
In three short words, steampunk is Victorian science fiction. Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century. Historically, this period saw the development of many key aspects of the modern world (mechanized manufacturing, extensive urbanization, telecommunications, office life and mass-transit), and steampunk uses this existing technology and structure to imagine an even more advanced 19th century, often complete with Victorian-inspired wonders like steam-powered aircraft and mechanical computers.

Image courtesy of Tyrus Flynn (www.tyrusflynn.com)

 

Where did steampunk come from?
In some sense, steampunk has existed since the 19th century. The Victorian period had its own science fiction, perhaps most famously embodied by the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, and throughout the 20th century there have been later-day science fiction stories set in the Victorian period. However, the term “steampunk” was not coined until the late 1980s, when author K. W. Jeter used it humorously to describe a grouping of stories set in the Victorian period written during a time when near-future cyberpunk was the prevailing form of science fiction.


Where does the sci-fi come in?
The line between steampunk and period Victorian is extremely narrow, and often the two are indistinguishable. They are separated only by steampunk’s status as science fiction, albeit heavily inspired by the historical fact of the Victorian period. This is generally accomplished in one of two ways. The “proto-steampunk” stories of the 19th century can be seen as a parallel to our own science fiction; that is, a view of the future from the present. For the Victorians, this meant imagining a future that looks dramatically un-modern to modern eyes. Submarines, space travel, aircraft and mechanized life were all imagined by the Victorians, but while some of these came very close to the mark they still differed from where the future actually went. For modern writers, with the benefit of modern science, steampunk becomes a re-imagining of the 19th century with a view of where science will one day go. In this way, steampunk often works to translate modern concepts such as the computer revolution, spy thrillers, noir mysteries and even the Internet into a Victorian context using Victorian technology. Steampunk becomes the perfect blending of alternate history and science fiction.


Image courtesy of Anna Fischer (www.flickr.com/photos/27594459@N04)

 

Where does the steam come in?
Steampunk’s steam references more than simply the technology itself, although steam engines are a vital aspect of life in a steampunk world. Steam more generally signifies a world in which steam technology is both dominant and prolific. During the Victorian era, steam power revolutionized almost every aspect of life. The steam engine made full-scale industrialization possible and produced mechanical power more efficiently and to greater degrees than human and animal labor could manage on their own. Mechanized manufacturing and farming caused an upheaval in the structure of working life, but they dramatically increased society’s productivity and freed up an entire section of society to form the modern class of professionals and office workers. The changes in society brought on by steam-driven industrialization allowed for the unprecedented developments in sciences, society and goods that came to be associated with the Victorian era. Steampunk takes inspiration from these changes and applies them to whatever culture it influences.

Image courtesy of Tarilyn Quinn (tarilynquinn.com)

 

Where does the punk come in?
Ironically, it doesn’t. As was mentioned earlier, the term “steampunk” is a tongue in cheek reference to the cyberpunk genre rather than a reference to the punk subculture. Moreover, “punk” in the context of punk rock was the product of very specific circumstances following the Second World War, which makes it fundamentally distinct from the Victorian aesthetic that inspires steampunk. However, individuals interested in exploring a steampunk equivalent to 20th century punk can find a wealth of material in 19th century counterculture groups ranging from the Luddites to utopians to hooligans. Add a dash of Victorian street culture and a sprinkling of ragtime, and steampunk “punk” comes into focus.

Image courtesy of Tarilyn Quinn (tarilynquinn.com)

 

What about gears?
The gear is an easily recognized symbol of steampunk, but it is not unique to the genre. It was invented long before the 19th century and it remains in use today. The gear in steampunk joins related devices such as flywheels and pistons as the “power lines” of the steam age. Steam power is mechanical power and its transmission demands a network of moving parts in the same way that electrical power transmission demands wires. The gear on its own is not especially “steampunk” but when put to use in 19th century machinery it becomes a key icon of the genre.

Image courtesy of Tyrus Flynn (www.tyrusflynn.com)

 

What about goggles?
Goggles are often encountered in steampunk clothing and imagery, and this can create the misleading impression that they are somehow fundamental to the “steampunk look.” Certainly, goggles are associated with both science and mechanized travel, both of which are common themes in steampunk. However, this does not mean that everyone in a steampunk setting wears goggles; in fact, only people who have a reason to wear them do so, and then only while it is useful. As with scarves, driving coats, aprons and overalls, goggles are a piece of fashion that can help give life to a steampunk world when used properly and in moderation, but can rapidly border upon the ludicrous when turned into an end rather than a means.

Image courtesy of Nadya Lev (nadyalevphoto.com)

 

What is the appeal of steampunk?
A genre as large as steampunk has a wide-ranging appeal. Some people are drawn to it from a love of the Victorian period. Others enjoy steampunk’s unique approach to technology: re-imagining modern capabilities with 19th century machines. Many people are drawn to it in light of its fashion aspects, which allow them to sample and even combine a range of clothing styles and accessories from across the 19th century world. One critical aspect of steampunk is the tremendous diversity of appeal it presents, which allows it to offer something for just about everyone. Steampunk is also aided by a more general neo-vintage movement, which has been steadily progressing through mainstream fashion, film and aesthetics, but even this cannot wholly explain steampunk’s appeal. The genre possesses a life of its own that draws in fans from countless directions and backgrounds into a world where fashion is tailored to the individual, goods are made to last, and machinery is still regarded as a thing of visual majesty.

Image courtesy of Tyrus Flynn (www.tyrusflynn.com)

 

Steampunk sounds great! Where’s an easy place to start?
The basic rule of thumb for steampunk is “start period and then add.” One of steampunk’s great advantages is that the period it is inspired by, the Victorian era, saw the invention of photography and cinematic film. These in turn allowed for a visual record of people from all different classes, cultures and backgrounds, providing an unprecedented amount of reference material. People looking for fashion ideas, character inspirations or scenes to describe can find a wealth of starting points in the countless vintage photographs and film reels left over from the 19th century. All that remains is to add to or modify the depictions to taste, though it must be remembered that many aspects of a steampunk world and its people will likely remain virtually indistinguishable from the period that inspires them.

Image courtesy of Richard Nagy (www.datamancer.net)

 


G. D. Falksen is a writer and student of history who has given lectures on the steampunk genre and subculture. He has confessed a certain fondness for ragtime. Further details can be found on his website, www.gdfalksen.com

This article is part of Steampunk Month: ‹ previous | index | next ›
51 comments
Joshua Pfeiffer
1. VernianProcess
Well technically the punk comes in the music. At least with a few of the bands. Our debut album is going to be very informed by a heavy punk-rock approach in both the sound, lyrical content, and aesthetics of the band members themselves.
David Rapp
2. davidrapp
It seems to me that there are really two parallel, barely-related types of steampunk fandom.

There's fans of steampunk fiction, which is basically an offshoot of the alternate-history genre. The historical aspect gets a lot more play than the aesthetics.

And then there's the steampunk cosplay folk, which seems to be an offshoot of the goth subculture. They don't seem to really care about the historical aspects, and just think the stuff looks cool.

Discuss.
Joshua Pfeiffer
3. VernianProcess
That is true, but there is a middle ground. I fall firmly into it my self. See I have been a fan of Steampunk since I first watched The Wild Wild West in elementary school back in the early 80's. After that I became obsessed with the fiction, film, television, etc offerings that fell under the Steampunk umbrella.

Then in 2003 I started making music with a Steampunk theme. Shortly after I released my first album, the whole cos-play/goth crossover hit and I found my self both blessed and disenchanted with the whole thing. On the one hand there was now a whole audience for my work, and on the other... I found the whole subculture aspect very silly. There are many Steampunk fans that have similar stories, so I don't think it is as cut and dry as two distinct camps.
Ay-leen
4. Ay-leen
@davidrapp: Actually, I enjoy steampunk because it talks about alternative history with a cosplay aspect. It makes cosplay more meaningful and gives me a chance to express my individual identity and interests rather than just trying to imitate another anime or Harry Potter character.

But I do think that there a lot of "hard" and "soft" interests that draw people into steampunk. There are steampunk participants who love the fashion aspect more than the literary aspect. (And let's not forget the existence of steampunk "political philosophy" too....)
Michael Manley
5. michaelsmanley
I thought steampunk was "Goths discover brown."

(tip of the hat to someone Xeni Jardin retweeted)
Ay-leen
6. larrytremblay
More accurately, "Goths discovered sepia" ;-)
Ay-leen
8. JonnyBGoode
It can be thought of as "the lighter side of Goth." Goth fashion and sensibilities are obviously inspired by the 19th century, but are also quite broody and dark. Steampunk opens up the love of the past with a brighter future. Even the dystopian post-apocalyptic steampunks can include the whimsical in their accoutrement.

There's also quite a lot of music cross-over. Since steampunk wasn't founded on a musical genre but on a literary one, there's a lot of room for freedom of expression, and several notable Goth or formerly Goth bands have migrated into the steampunk scene.
Ay-leen
9. The Men That Will Not ...
and for a London based take on the music, check out The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing !!!

http://www.myspace.com/blamedfornothing

or
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Men_That_Will_Not_Be_Blamed_For_Nothing

for a down at heel combination of victoriana and punk, with songs dealing with issues such as etiquette, sewers, bedlam, darwin, a victorian boasting song, ballooning to the moon, the british empire, and laudenum fuelled debauchery!
Ay-leen
10. legionseagle
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing !!!

Golly, a band name which manages to combine both anti-Semitism and the fetishising of violence against women - it's got everything.
Judith S. Anderson
11. jskanderson
colonization, slavery (in the United States), women as chattel, child labor, debtor's prisons, rigid class system, primogeniture, Manifest Destiny; I really see the appeal of the Victorian era.
Alejandro Melchor
12. Al-X
I define steampunk as a balance of the "what was", the "what should've been", and the "what the hell...?"
Ay-leen
13. LabRatRevenge
Love the comment Al-X, and I definitely echo that when it comes to all interesting historical fiction.

Steampunk, isolated from its punk, becomes simply steam. While steam-era, victorian-era fiction can be delightful, there is a GREAT deal of room for authors in this genre to embrace punk themes!

It never ceases to sadden me when the punk is taken out of steampunk. It's true that steampunk as a genre title is a close contemporary of cyberpunk; both these are excellent examples of hypothetical worlds in which rigid structures and social devices are violated and trashed in a way that would make the punk generations proud.

Typical earmarks of cyberpunk literature include derelict situations in high contrast to expensive ones, defying the will of an esteemed megacorp/government, the "street finding it's own uses" for technology and all major advances, and the deviation of experts in their respective fields. These themes create a deliciously disgusting world in which cyberpunk thrives.

The steam era provides a wealth of the socio-political conundrums that provide authors with the opportunity to create deviants and their stories. Stories like Jay Lake's "The God Clown is Near" embrace the disgustingly real with the carnivalesque and criminal tones of punk literature, and uses a hypothetical steampunk world to create it.


Steampunk can be PUNK! And as someone who is in it for the punk, I can say it is one of the more inventive categories of Sci Fi I've encountered.

:)
Ay-leen
14. rustedhalo
I've been a fan of Steampunk before I ever heard the term. I'm an artist and a huge fan of urban decay, rust, metal, copper, robots, and old broken toys. I love the work of H. G. Wells and artists like H.R. Giger and Doktor A. I don't see the goth crossover as most goths dressed everyday in that style where as steampunk seems to be more cosplay for special events and conventions.
Ay-leen
15. SteamPunkJennie
Now that you know about Steampunk - Please take a look at the most fabulous Steampunk Jewelry and Accesories on Etsy!

http://www.steampunkjennie.etsy.com

and on Deviant Art:

http://steampunkjennie.deviantart.com/
Ay-leen
16. LucyRobare
@jskanderson: I can see history is not your strong suite. The Victorian Era saw the beginning of the end of all of those things you mentioned. The Industrial Revolution and its classical liberal ethic destroyed slavery as an acceptable socioeconomic system and saw the earliest articulations of feminism and anti-Imperialism (the earliest demand for woman's suffrage were actually made before the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign). The rigid class system, where land ownership was the supreme power, was destroyed as commerce and industry became the chief wealth-builders. The powers of monarchies grew more limited and the franchise was extended to all white males, then all males, and to women in early part of the 20th century.

@Al-X: That's a great definition.

I consider Steampunk to be a sort of natural evolution of the Goth culture. The original Gothic was a subset of the Romantic period that directly precede the Victorian era.
Ay-leen
17. Crenshaw McCrunch
I find steampunk to be incredible eye candy, all shiny and tubular, yet tinged with grunge all the same.

I see a movie where steampunk characters, led by the spunky Dr. Crammtong, appear from elsewhen through time travel, in order to dismantle the current evil police state corptocracy. Their whacky devices are designed to put a fatal kink into the technology of the present (future-past?) day, and they are quite effective at such. Much whimsey abounds...

Oh, the popcorn tin simply quivers at the mere thought!
Ay-leen
18. Thomas Kerkeslin
Well put, Mr. Falksen. The best definition (and description) of steampunk I've read- and I've read most of them.
Ay-leen
19. Viraumus Sabena
Well said, G.D., well said.
I started into steampunk by reading various bits and pieces of steampunk literature and the like, and the fashion element kind of came naturally--not having all that much money to put towards fashion, I shopped at local thrift and surplus stores--and eventually ended up with what became my standard 'Jack the Ripper' daywear--a massive black wool overcoat (from 1921), jackboots, wool trousers (with button fly), and a tasteful/eye-burningly hideous vest (plus a shirt and etc)--the goggles were added on later. I've never really treated steampunk as cosplay, and try to keep my outfits mostly practical (if eccentric)--however, this commitment to wearing everything I buy (in public, standard settings) often finds me in almost full Martian Colonial Army kit (British army dress uniform plus extras, minus any sort of weaponry) when high fashion is the order of the day.
-{D
GD Falksen
20. gdfalksen
@davidrapp: Actually, steampunk fashion is somewhat more complex than that. A lot of people who "dress steampunk" actually do a fair bit of genre and historical research before compiling their outfits, and this often results in a more attractive outfit than just throwing things together without any attention to historical or literary inspiration.

@VernianProcess: Absolutely, steampunk very much offers a blending of literature, art and fashion, all with a healthy does of historical inspiration.

@jskanderson: As LucyRobare very correctly points out, the Victorian period saw the beginning of the end for various conservative, racist and misogynistic views that had previously pervaded life. The period saw the establishment of a liberal middle class that paved the way for 20th century reform. The 19th century as a whole gave rise to national revolutions, and it saw the final eradication of slavery in the West (which was a major step forward when compared to earlier centuries).

@Thomas Kerkeslin: My thanks for the great compliment.

@Viraumus Sabena: I don't see steampunk as cosplay myself either. I see it as fashion inspired by an earlier time (one that has a visual aesthetic I prefer over our current trends). I feel that calling one's steampunk outfit "a costume" is somewhat defeatist.
Ay-leen
21. Jubb 3500
GD,

Thanks for an excellent overview of the genre. It's very gratifying to see steampunk and related genre's gaining some bigger interest this year (at last).

I wanted to alert you and your readership to an animated feature we're in the middle of production on—"War of the Worlds: Goliath". It's a sequel to the original H.G. Wells, classic novel, set fourteen years after the original, failed Martian invasion.

WOTWG features elements of "dieselpunk" and Pulp, but with it's roots in the Victorian era of the original novel, it should appeal to your readers and aficionados of the genre.

Here's some links to out footage and designs

Best,

Joe Pearson

http://www.metaltv.com/wotw/index.html

wotw-goliath.com/video_trailer.html

www.heavymetalmagazinefanpage.com/movieswaroftheworlds.html
Ay-leen
22. AmyKakes
I never knew what Steampunk was unitl about 6 months ago, when some one used the term to describe a collage I'd made...

http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/profile?id=651330

I looked up the term and found images that matched what's been in my head for years...gears, cogs, locks & keys, corsets & stockings, tophats, burlesque/vaudville, watches, trains, hot air balloons...

I didn't know I was Steampunk...but I have been scince high school...everyone just thought I was weird.
Ay-leen
23. False Prophet
Jay Lake has stated steampunk is an aesthetic: a kind of skin that can be grafted on a variety of different stories or contexts, and I tend to agree. Cyberpunk had a cultural and philosophical underpinning to it, at least at the beginning. While steampunk can explore deep and important ideas concerning technology, the Victorian era, etc., it usually focuses on fun and adventure.

What I find interesting is that steampunk as a literary genre has been around at least 30 or 40 years, maybe longer, but its prominence among goths, cosplayers, artists and musicians seemed to come out of nowhere around 4 or 5 years ago. I think anime & manga played a big role here. The late 90s/early 00s saw a lot of steampunk in anime: Steam Detectives, Sakura Wars, Steamboy, and the earlier Castle in the Sky. My theory is that once Westerners actually had a visual shorthand for "steampunk", they were all over it. Thoughts?
Ay-leen
24. Prof.Gideon Vaugh (Ron)
I have enjoyed the genre for decades as a role-player, from the 1989 release of Space 1889, to Deadlands in the 90s, and the various pulp versions in RPGs since. (Pulp, Savage Worlds, Eberron, etc)

I have pictures of me 10 years ago dressed in pinstripped pants, newsboy cap, tank and bracers with some nice red/black wingtipped docs. If I'd had goggles one, that woulda been pretty steamy.

Now that I'm older and can afford more and better costumes and the apparatus to make such costumes, I will be doing/wearing more, also I'm bringing my 10 year old twin boys into Steampunk.
victoria dillan
25. vikkidee
@jskanderson slavery is back on the rise now you just aren't aware of it, the victorian era was the beginning of a lull.

It was at least a more civilised time , for instance people didnt justify murder by using robots to do it they still went out and killed people individually instead of from continents away en masse - that at least is something I would happily see again.
Ay-leen
26. Loreena
Well, then, de facto Chéreau's famous '76 Centenary Ring is steampunk too. It's basically a Victorian / capitalist version of Norse Mythology, with some actual steam too - used especially in Rheingold and Siegfried.
Ay-leen
29. BlackHeart
I have been watching the steampunk genre for a couple years and as an artist and jewelry designer I think I have a different view about it.

I see current day as sterile and ugly. Look at the arcitecture and design of everyday items and they all look basically the same. Everything seems too utilitarian in style, not really in features but overall appearence. I think steampunk brings out the creativity, style, lines, curves, and imagination that is so lacking in out world today.

Maybe that is why I like the Victorian arcitecture and my 1880 era pocket watch, which has all the gears and pieces etched with scroll work, but cant be seen without removing the back case cover. The style was detail of work was part of the item, not just astetics. Even tools were works of art and science, I have a few wood planes and chisels from the late 1800's and they are better built and looks nicer than all the modern ones I have.

But this is my take on the genre.
Ay-leen
31. kckatt
I was introduced to Steampunk at a recent anime convention in middle America and am now inlove with the look of the Victorian and Western genre but can do without the darker look of the Industrial and Gothic side. As a 47 year old mother of 5 who has always loved the early Victorian romance novels, I think it is the slowness of the time that lures me. I have incorporated several small pieces of jewerly/art into my daily wardrobe. When I look at these I remind myself that I too can slow my life down and not rush through today and a faster tomorrow.

Steampunk to me is a state of mind.
Ay-leen
32. zenbeer
The inherent beauty of steampunk to me is that it is open to the personal interpretation of the person interested in it. In other words: no one can tell me how to play make-believe.

I think the fascination I have with it, even before it was coined steampunk, was the machinery of the steam era. There's just something awesome in the engineering of the 19th century, a sense that things needed to be made to last.

We're a generation of people who've only known planned obsolescence in their lifetimes, maybe we all pine romantic for a time when machinery had an elegance and beauty to its design if not it's functionality. Plus it was made to last a lifetime if not more.

I wonder if the brooklyn Bridge were built today, would it last 100+ years?

Plus goggles are cool... especially on a motorcycle.

-zen
Ay-leen
33. Themicles
I find your overview of steampunk to be quite helpful as I've recently been sucked into the genre by my renaissance festival friends. There's a monthly party where a DJ friend of ours plays music from bands that identify as steampunk. No that doesn't mean we only hear Abney Park.

Now while I agree with your assessments, it feels like you're trying to say the fashion should be limited to 19th century styles and items that existed. It almost feels as though you're against the evolution of the fashion, as might be imagined from 19th science fiction. You almost seem to set the science fiction to the side as an optional add-on, while I feel it has a much more important role than that. Otherwise it is just a 19th century
fashion revival, like people reviving hippy fashion by wearing bell bottoms and tie dye shirts...

With that view, I see the fashion starting with the 19th century, but imagining where it might have gone from there in the lines of how the science fiction might be imagined. What would the fashion be in, say, the '40s had things gone as the sci-fi imagined? Why not evolve the fashion a bit, adding in slightly more modern styles along the lines of how they would've been influenced, adding in a dash of slowing that evolution down.

I have to agree with zenbeer here that it is open to personal interpretation with a common starting point. 'no one can tell me how to play make-believe' pretty much sums it up.

Though I still agree on the goggles. They should be worn if you came in on an open deck airship, or are a mechanic on a steam engine. Why does everyone wear them, even when dressed as a wealthy gentleman?
Ay-leen
34. LondonHellraker
Great discussion, I've been exploring the fashion and the styles. Both look great.
Goggles look good in most places and I plan to have prescription ones for myself.
Ay-leen
35. SteamKnight
I always enjoy seeing all the amazing costume designs, very creative! I would love to see a steampunk medieval knight though, just beacause it would be pretty neat! haha
Ay-leen
37. The Key of A
Love the laptop conversion! I thought my suitcase, transformed into a cat bed was the bomb!!! That case is really cool!
Ay-leen
38. Noodles
people wear goggles because goggles are BADASS.
Ay-leen
39. RowanGolightly
I've loved Steampunk since before it was called such; I'm a lifelong fan of Jules Verne and all that entails. I try not to be judgmental about terminology nor others' interpretations of it. There is so much room for creativity and interpretation; I love to see what everybody comes up with. I think there's room within the genre for all sorts of fun things.

Being a professional costumer, it's fun to stretch a little and occasionally go in a different direction. I tend to make, for myself, Victorian styles that are 'punked' up just a bit. I've made Steampunk costumes for my entire former band. We had an Engineer, a School Marm, a Lady Assassin, a Belly-dancer and a Whore and were all in shades of silver, black and white. It was great fun.
Ay-leen
41. Baron Cyrus Von Borg
What about the Role-Play element to Steampunk. Coming up with a character and then becoming them. Didn't see anyone comment on that. I feel it is neccessary to the whole aesthetic. Otherwise you are just faffing about in a vest and goggles.
Ay-leen
42. Ten'ro Lu
@Baron Cyrus Von Borg So, by that token, no one should wear tie dye and peasant skirts unless they practice Free Love and toke nightly. Or, heavens forbid the tosser who dons biker boots and a leather jacket if they have no hope of owning a motorcycle, ever. Let alone if they don't even like motorized bikes!

Or, you know, they should at least pretend to do all those things, obviously, since they're wearing the clothes.

-----

Interstesing article. But, I get so annoyed with the whole "don the pretty clothing, make up a persona" schtick of so many "steampunks" of late.

Don't get me wrong, I love dress-up and make believe. Avid rpg'er, Ren Faire attendee, and member of the SCA, here. But, all the dress-up and role playing (to me, at any rate), is Neo-Victorianism. For me and mine, Steampunk is a philosophy, a lifestyle. It's something we incorporate (as much or as little as we like) into our (extra)ordinary everyday.

For an excellent description of what steampunk means to me -- and those of my Steamy little circle here in the PNW -- check out
http://prof-calamity.livejournal.com/277.html

I could not possibly put it any better than one of our sub-culture's "founding fathers".
Ay-leen
43. UBtripN
First off i would like to make it clear that the only affiliation i have with the whole steampunk thing is from postings of a friend (lots of great pics too by the way). With that being said...you can slice it, you can dice it, you can pound it to a paste and add it to the sauce. You can add a dash of this, or a pinch of that. You can garnish it with with exotic fauna and serve it on a sapphire encrusted gold plate, or just ladle it over mashed potatos on a paper plate.
I guess what i am trying to say is after reading most of the posts and seeing everything from the purist to the whimsical approach; does it really matter how you serve it up as long as it makes you feel good inside? I know my friend seems to get a great deal of joy from all aspects of the steampunk thing. Is'nt that what really counts?
Ay-leen
44. NONEYABUS
OMG...how retarded is this 'stempunk' crap!!? What else will they think of to be 'different'?! Guess what? If you just be YOURSELF, and not be so insecure about yourself, then you wouldn't have to come up with stupid sh*! like this in the first place!!! Btw, there is no such thing as "Victorian Sci-Fi!!!" It's just a load of crap
Ay-leen
45. PrincessNyanko
@NONEYABUS for starters it 'steampunk' and people dont do it to try and be different its an extension of somebodys personality
so what if someone likes the way it looks, i sure as hell do im using it as an influence for my A level textiles project.
So heres an idea for you, if you hate it so much, one why the hell did you waste your time and bother to post something and two dont be so insulting towards peope its not up to you what people like and can and cannot do!
I siggest that you keep any furhter comments to yourself you ingnorant c***
Ay-leen
48. kara-karina
Ha, here is your first troll :) Always surprises me when people can be so hateful as #44. Great post! I'm just getting into steampunk, which for me was coincidental love. I loved the books, movies and clothes long before I heard of the subculture. It's beautiful, and people are generally very nice to each other.
Ay-leen
49. Rev. E. A. Hernandez
Oh, dear, I happen to love this site and I am a blank sheet: only just heard of this steampunk thing and realised I've been one all my life! "Goths discover sepia" is hilarious! However, you're a bit late ... Goths essentially devoured sepia and deep chocolate brown as early as 1983. I prefer to think Prof. Challenger, Spring-heeled Jack and Nikola Tesla are finally saying, "THEY GET IT!!"
Ay-leen
50. Neal Cormier
Love the pics! WOuld love to see this become more social than aesthetic!
Ay-leen
51. KauKatKay
@NONEYABUS: Steampunk is a genre, not a way of life. It's not a way to be "different," it's just like fantasy or sci-fi, a genre. And it has alot of fashon involved in it. Please don't troll, and remember that you read the article volentarally. Nobody forced you to as far as I know. And there are alot of people out there who enjoy the genre so please be respectful and keep negative opinions to yourself.

Anywho. :)
To me, Steampunk is victorian science fiction based mainly around steam power, but as the people from that time would have envisoned it. It's Jules Vern but with more brown.
Ay-leen
52. Bryndís
Hi, you all.
Learning about steampunk has given me this wonderful feeling that I can dive into a nostalgic fantasy world every day, as an exstension of reading and watching steampunk art and entertainment.

But I decided to comment, most of all because this discussion is something I have never seen before on the Internet. Every one of you know (except for the lone troll): 1. How to write, with correct grammar. 2. How to be polite. 3. How to express your view without dragging others in the discussion down.

Seeing this makes me believe that people who find steampunk interesting are generally smart and well educated. I love that!

Sincerely, the lonely Icelandic steampunker
Ay-leen
53. Aladdin Sane
Greetings and salutations to you all:

I, too have had a love affair w/ steampunk since the days of Bobby Conrad on "The Wild, Wild West" (I'm old enough to remember it in primetime). I love the alternate "future history" aspect of the literature.

BTW: In response to the MORON @ post 44 (Noneyabus: "No such thing as Victorian Sci-Fi"):
Ever hear of H.G. Wells or Jules Verne?

Haters.
Tell him to go back to his NASCAR and STFU
Ay-leen
54. robert van der dekken
ok 1 what does that 'in some sence' mean. and 2 i disagree with the whole first paragraph. sorry. im older wiser and was at the roots of all this.venian procces and all the others are right about wild wild west been watchin it since the 70's
Three words that define Steam-punk 'Victorian Era Artists' . to use science fiction instead of era artist, is inaccurate as a description and is in fact not really a description by definition at all. it is simply telling one some of the contents. what about romance, adventure, mystery. era artists is a description that references the people involved and the idea. not just one or the other. era meaning the time and spirit of, and artists. you could replace this also with art. actually you cant really describe anything in three words accurately. but ill finish, all genre's subcultures, groups, clicks or cliques have to have a tangible base. artistry is this base, Victorian is the theme and era is the time and place. so all art forms and the people who are actively involved and the imaginative ideas of the soul and spirit that they create make up steam-punk.
Ay-leen
55. Elizabeth Ryker
I've always been a little strange, and somewhat unhappy with the drudgery of modern day goings on, especially without much extra income with which to change up the pace. My first glimpse into the "steampunk" scene was H.G. Wells's book The Time Machine. And thus, I fell in love with a literary style as well as an aesthetic one. I am still struggling, with my limited funds, to express my enjoyment of this "movement" or what-have-you, but to me, it means a way to be myself more fully in a modern world where "individuals" get lost in hidden nooks and crannies. There is so much for me to play with and discover here, and, so it seems, intellectual people that share similar views. I appreciate the article greatly, as well as most of the posts. They give me hope for my own individuality.
Ay-leen
56. Artful Dadaist
Looks fun I like it. Using period literature for authenticity lends substance to the style.

Quetion: Is Steampunk lessened when the fashion sense arises from a character who looks as from the underclass? Rather than showing off a look that speaks of refinement and position? Picture the sewn rags of a chimney sweep.
Ay-leen
58. Guildmistress Plundre
Oh, not at all, Artful!

My own aesthetic began with the sweeps and streeturchins of the Victorian era, and burgeoned out into the grand ragamuffin tatters and flash of pirate "aristocracy". ;)

So, no, in many circles, the lower eschelons are welcome, and even heartily encouraged.

But, really, what it all comes down to is whether or not it makes you feel comfortable and happy. If it does, then don't bother with what anyone else happens to think or say. That's the beauty of the sub-culture, afterall... it's warm embracing of the individual.

There's recently been a rash of Steampunks going about taking it upon themselves to inform their fellow sub-culturalists as to what, precisely, Steampunk "is".

Ignore them.

Steampunk is whatever you want it to be.
Ay-leen
59. CurioustoSteampunk
I want to know if your new to the steampunk culture, and you want to be apart of it little by little then what kind if events should you go to? How do you emrge yourself in that culture.
Ay-leen
61. evening_wraps
Thanks for all the information on steampunk. I have always loved the Victorian age and Steampunk is a fun part of it. The elaborate fashions and genteel manners are in stark contrast to our age. The science fiction is intriguing. -
evening bags

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