What is Steampunk?

Even though Steampunk has been around since the 80’s (when the term was coined) I still get asked what Steampunk actually is. In saying that I don’t mean it’s a dumb question because it’s not. I hadn’t heard the term until a few years ago.

In essence, it’s a genre that has combined elements of Science Fiction, Alternate History and Speculative Fiction. The time period is set at the onset of the industrial revolution during the late 19th century when the steam-powered engines were being developed.

Science Fiction picks up where reality ends and takes it to a whole new level.

Steam-powered flying machines, guns, computers and other types of futuristic technology that would have been thought of in the future are developed during that time period and take on a more Victorian tone.

Fashion also comes into play since the setting is turn-of-the-century. Decorative vests, corsets and other Victorian attire are meshed with gadgetry to create the Steampunk look.

Even though the term itself came about much later than these books were written, early literary Steampunk examples and influences consist of H.G. Wells: The Time Machine and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Today, Steampunk literature had GK Chesterton as a springboard to launch a whole new era of books, games, cosplay (costume play), video games, movies (Wild, Wild West) and more!

The cool thing about Steampunk is that it can take place in the Old West or in a future post-apocalyptic setting. In Jupiter Chronicles it takes place on another world and sets the stage for the Steampunk era here on Earth! And speaking of, the book does contain tidbits of information for kids such as who was Nikola Tesla, things kids may not know about Jupiter and the very first steam-powered device which was invented in the 1st century A.D.

Care to guess what it’s called?

The term “Steampunk” itself was believed to have been coined by author K.W. Jeter who derived it from “cyberpunk” in an effort to describe works set in the Victorian era and were joined with Science Fiction. It took a while for the phrase to stick but it eventually did and for that, I’m glad.

Chat soon,

Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Please visit http://leonardoverse.com and sign up for the blog.

Click here to place your pre-order for Jupiter Chronicle or enter to win a free copy here!

  • Nice! Thanks John!

  • John Lewis

    You’re in for a treat. He also wrote Snowcrash, Crytonomicon, and Anathem.

  • I’ll have to check “Strange Affair of Spring” myself. Thanks Jane!

  • Jane Christian

    I asked the same question before reading The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. Then after finishing the trilogy I discovered The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer. And it’s fascinating. At 65 I find for the most part I am out of touch the trends, fads, styles, etc. But not only have I become conversant regarding
    steampunk I have found a whole new genre of literature to read. And I look forward to re-reading Wells and Verne.

  • No, I haven’t. Good stuff?

  • John Lewis

    Have your read Neal Stephenson’s excellent Diamond Age?