The question often comes up around the Internet, “What is Steampunk?” The answer isn’t as simple as a short description, because Steampunk encompasses an artistic style of an altered timeline, a culture and a lifestyle. This article will try to cover each of these aspects of Steampunk in depth.
The Steampunk culture
Steampunk is invariably a culture created to withstand the tests of time. Steampunk dates back as far as the early eighties with examples of its influence being seen in works such as H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. This movie, novel, and comic “Time Machine” took a look at what time travel may have looked like in a retro era. Before gas powered cars, before computers, and before handheld electronic devices. Other examples of Steampunks influence on early history include the many works of Jules Vern from “Around the World in 80 Days” to “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
The basis of the Steampunk culture is to take many of our modern inventions and retrofit them to appear as though they could have been created, designed and manufactured in the Victorian era. However, Steampunk is not to be confused with retro.
The primary difference between “going retro” and “going Steampunk” is that everything steam punk needs to appear as though it follows an altered time-line. In this altered time-line gas and other power sources never took over the steam engine. While it’s not clear whether these other power sources actually could exist in this fantasy world, it is very clear that steam power is the prominent energy source.
Much of the Steampunk look is based on brass as this was and still is (When combined with water or steam) a largely non-corrosive metal. Though brass tarnishes and turns green from skin based oils, it does not rust or decay due to oxidation.
Some examples of modern electronics which have been retrofitted with the Steampunk appearance can be found all across the Internet. Here you will find a USB drive which has been given a retro Steampunk appearance. Here is an example of a Steampunk office space complete with Steampunk desk, computer and brass door. (That door probably weighs a ton.) You can even take a virtual tour of this guy’s house here.
You may have noticed the recent appearance of H.G. wells in Warehouse 13 on SY FY H.G. Wells was an author of many Sci-Fi books in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The one he (Or in WH 13s case she) was especially well known for was a book detailing the workings of a time machine.
This original novel inspired many Steampunk derivative works in both the forms of movies and comic books. The addition of H.G. Wells to Warehouse 13 is an indication of its authentic Steampunk experience. This is a prime example of modern Steampunk culture reaching a wider audience.
The Steampunk MMO Neosteam
Current adaptations of the Steampunk culture include one of my favorite MMO games Neosteam. Neosteam evolves in a world where everything is powered by a new kind of steam called Neosteam. This Neosteam is a crystalized substance which produces steam without the need of coal, fire, or water.
There are two countries at war over this energy source, one largely based in magic, while the other is largely based in science and machines. Both countries use large steam run machines in massive wars over the source of their energy Neosteam.
The Steampunk artistic market
Steampunk has become a genre of its own in manga, comics, and movies, with its own heavy following. Many people (Myself included) have even taken a liking to these retro Victorian appearances. Steampunk art work has become a rather large niche market and many people fill their houses today with computers and other appliances given a Steampunk appearance.
Here are several more examples of great art work inspired by a Steampunk theme and if you’re interested in creating any of these for yourself; they all come with great step by step instructions.
Steampunk LCD monitor
Steampunk inspired artistic etchings
You may have noticed by now that nearly every piece of art work contains a large amount of brass and or brass coloring. The explanation for this was mentioned earlier, but I would like to reiterate it here. Brass does not oxidize or otherwise corrode. Brass only tarnishes when combined with oils like the ones found in your hands and your skin. For many more examples check out Warehouse 13 on SYFY.
The Steampunk fashion trend
While there are not a lot of times when people get the chance to don their Steampunk inspired clothes, there have been more than a few Steampunk inspired showings and conventions. Recently the San Diego Comic-Con International has held an event which is generally known among the participants as Steampunk day.
The Comic-Con has traditionally been a four day event with the last day being the Steampunk day. On this day all the fans get to don their Steampunk retro-fitted outfits and walk proudly amongst their other Steampunk inspired fans.
The SalonCon also held a three year running convention starting in 2006 for Steampunk inspired music and fans. This made for yet another event that fans could don their Steampunk inspired outfits for a night on the town. While this trend isn’t likely to gain massive exposure it’s certainly a fun pass- time.
The actual Steampunk fashion may come in many forms, but usually includes some retro-fitted gadgets such as phones, iPads, or watches. These devices will be bronzed to appear Steampunk. Clothes may be fitted with brass or bronze steam goggles or spectacles, and buttons.Glasses may be replaced with more Steampunk like monocles or goggles with a brass appearance. These clothes come in all forms because Steampunk encompasses such a wide range of people.
Resources used in the making of this article.
SY FY Warehouse 13
Wikipedia H.G. Wells
Atlus Online: Neosteam