Saturday, 13 November 2010
What is Steampunk?
On a quest to find an easy answer for this if you don't already know...
Steampunk is set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
An imaginary Victorian age, that features brass and copper clockwork and steampowered inventions that go far beyond 1800′s technology. Steam powered mechanical wonders, optimistic gear driven computers, dirigibles, clockwork firsts, and stuff like that. (But don’t forget the goggles.)
Well, something like that, anyway. Think Jules Verne.
Steampunk simply embodies a time and a place. The time... the late 19th century. The place... a steam powered world, where air travel by fantastical dirigibles is as common as traveling by train or boat (or submarine). A place where national interests are vastly different than our own version of history. A place where the elegant and refined are as likely to get pulled into a grand adventure, as the workers, ruffians, and lower classes. A place where the idea of space travel is not so far fetched. A place where lost civilizations are found and lost again. A place where anything is possible, and science can be twisted to meet ones own ends. That to me is the essence of Steampunk. It can have political overtones and commentary, or it can be straight escapist fiction. Either way, if it meets these criteria. It is Steampunk.
:-Joshua A. Pfeiffer a.k.a. Vernian Process
Steampunk is the umbrella under which such things as Victorian science fiction, What if? Antiquity, Sailpunk and other hyper tech speculative history. Many purists would disagree with me, and have, but the the genre isn't that well fleshed out to be on it's own, and the same can be said of these subcategories two fold. In a definitive sense, the genre is technology and it's impact on a selected society.
:-Zacrey Monte Hansen a.k.a. Gearworks
The word Steampunk refers to a particular genre, aesthetic and even a reality that "might have been". For some people, it's an evolved fantasy/ reality that might have been had internal combustion engines never taken hold or even been invented. Steampunk for me is a reality that "aims to be rather than to seem". Indeed, it's an aesthetic that is heavily versed in a climate of invention and innovation. The construction and methods of operation, the kinetics of the piece are exposed and on the surface, as opposed to boxed in and hidden behind a false casing. The wonderful thing about a steam engine is that you can follow the path of power generation and function beginning with the fire box and boiler, follow the plumbing, valves, gauges, gears, d-valves, pistons, eccentric shafts, and fly-wheels all the way from the source of power to the final outcome of kinetic potential.
Within this architectural aesthetic, there are no false walls, drop ceilings, prefab decorative elements or the mundane presence of modern conveniences. Theatre is wonderful, but theatre is false in its constructions. There is nothing false or "out of the box" when talking about the Steampunk aesthetic. You'll find that there is an incredible compliment between a variety of disparate materials that can usually be found in any Steampunk conceived of device... wood, brass, rivets, gears, lenses, cast iron, etc... Steampunk is an honour to an era when people thought big, and worked hard to make things that last. It is not like the disposable culture of commodity that we have today. Care, artisanship and craftsmanship was put into everything that was created.
:-Sean Orlando Kineticsteamworks.org