To kick off the start of Steampunkery here on Candace's Book Blog I have guest Suzanne Lazear who is going to tell us just what, exactly, is Steampunk. Thanks so much for joining us Suzanne!
What is Steampunk?
By Suzanne Lazear
What is Steampunk?
I get asked that a lot.
Usually, I reply with “It’s Jules Verne on crack,” which I’m sure my high school English teacher wouldn’t appreciate.
Steampunk brings us back to the wonder and romanticism of the Victorian era. It enables us to enter a world of yesteryear, one fill filled with bustles and carriages and zeppelins.
But we don’t have to leave all our modern conveniences behind for the elegance, opulence, and top hats of the Victorian era.
No, not at all.
What makes Steampunk is the technology.
At its core, the essence of Steampunk lies in its technology and gadgets.
Steampunk is alternate history. It’s imagining what modern technology would look like if we still used steam instead of electricity. It’s a world embracing the Victorian spirits of makerism and innovention, a world of advanced technology using Victorian materials and aesthetic. Envision a world filled with opulent airships, brass robots, giant difference engines, elaborate clockwork machines, and aether-filled rayguns.
Steampunk worlds are populated with vivid, exciting characters such as mad-scientists, philosophers, gentleman tinkers, street sparrows, corset-and bustle wearing vampire hunters, and, of course, air-pirates.
These worlds very much have a Victorian feel, but your bustle-wearing lady might have a dainty ray gun, your gentleman-tinker might have a robotic arm. There could be a mix of airships and carriages. There could even be magic and non-humans.
There’s also plenty of room to mix things up. Perhaps the aviatrix wears (gasp) trousers. Maybe she’s even an air-pirate. Creativity abounds in Steampunk. The world is what you make it.
Steampunk worlds can be any place and time—whether it’s Victoran London, or on a distant planet far in the future. Steampunk also bends and blends genres. Steampunk stories can be adventure, horror, paranormal, or romance. There’s even such a thing as “Steamypunk.”
The term “Steampunk” was coined as a bit of a joke in the 1980’s and stuck, as a play on Cyber and Biopunk. Unlike Cyperpunk and Biopunk, Steampunk lacks the dystopian/anarchist themes, but there are usually themes of rebellion. Stories can get gritty–the Victorian era wasn’t all balls and bustles and an alternate Victorian society probably isn’t either. But the spirit of Victorian idealism is very much present--even the villain truly believes that by blowing up parliament he’s making the world a better place.
Steampunk is also more than books and movies. There’s great Steampunk music from bands like Abney Park and Emilie Autumn, there’s Steampunk art, Steampunk clothes from places like Clockwork Couture and the Steampunk Emporium, and even Steampunk jewelry. Just take a look at Etsy, there are so many fabulous things, many of them embracing the Victorian spirit by being handmade and one-of-a-kind. There are Steampunk conventions. The TV show Castle just had a Steampunk episode.
Steampunk is the intersection of technology and Victorian Romanticism. It’s a place where your imagination can run amok. Where else is it perfectly acceptable to wear a raygun with your ball gown anyway?
Speaking of which…has anyone seen my raygun?
Suzanne Lazear writes Steampunk stories for adults and teens. Her Young Adult Steampunk dark fairytale "Innocent Darkness" will be released from Flux in 2012. Also known as "Lolita Suzanne", she's part of the popular Steampunk group blog Steamed! http://www.ageofsteam.wordpress.com. She always plays with swords, is never described as normal, and has been known to run with bustles. Suzanne lives on the west coast with the tot, the hubby, and a hermit crab where currently attempting to make a raygun to match her ballgown.