Steampunk — An Explanation

This intriguing genre of being came into existence around the 1980’s as an offshoot of Cyberpunk. This term was coined by K.W. Jester, who used it in reference to himself and two of his friends (Tim Powers and James Blaylock) all of whom were writers of science fiction and fantasy. Since then this term has come to describe clothing, music and writing set in an alternate universe. In the world of the steampunks, life after the Industrial Revolution went on a bit differently. We began to focus on steam-power and created fascinating new technologies based on steam, wheels, cogs and gears. This type of mechanization likes to ignore our turn to airplanes (they prefer dirigibles), nanotechnology, computers, etc. Instead, we write on typewriters or parchment with quills, we fly around in air ships, and have an entirely new host of technologies at our feet that are nothing like what we see today. Steampunk also takes a turn towards the post-apocalyptic. Many fantasize that this world is created after our typical technology has failed us, so we have to return to gears rather than satellites.

As far as literature goes, Steampunk writers take their inspiration from Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, and Mary Shelley. Many modern steampunk writers look back to some of the amazing technologies and macabre worlds created in works like Frankenstein and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If you’re interested in some steampunk fiction, Wikipedia has a great list here. If you read a book and it’s awesome you must let us know!!!

Now that Steampunk culture has become more well-known, you’ll see it filtering into geek-filled events like the San Diego Comic Con. There is even an amazing event called the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball every summer. It’s based on the type of ball found in the movie and is an event I plan on going to as soon as I can save up the money!

Steampunk music takes its lyrics from the fictional world that most steampunkers wish was real. They invoke images of a time that didn’t end up existing. Images of mad scientists, rides in airships, dark carnivals and machines. Often, steampunk music is hauntingly beautiful; I encourage you to check out some of these bands:
Abney Park
The Cog is Dead
The Clockwork Dolls
Insomniac Folklore
Vernian Process
China Steam Engine

Steampunk fashion takes it’s cue from 19th century Britain, often involving lace, corsets, and also some more interesting fair such as eye patches, manacles, top hats, necklaces fashioned out of cogs and time pieces, goggles, etc. This is where steampunk blends into the neo-victorian movement, through fashion. And it does it beautifully. I found a few awesome things on Etsy to give you guys a sample of the great fashion trend that is steampunk. Click on the photo for a link to the shop!

One of the most amazing things about Steampunk is, in my opinion, those few individuals turning this into a lifestyle. A nifty guy over at The Steampunk Workshop has created a computer (he’s even working on a car!) in the steampunk style. It’s just a case, because it obviously still has to have the normal computer parts in it, but it’s really beautiful (see below). If you’re interested, you can head on over to The Steampunk Home blog and check out some more steampunk items for your everyday life.

There you have it guys! Your beginner’s guide to steampunk. I suggest you go and follow my links! You might find something new, surprising and offbeat you didn’t think you’d like. If you have any questions feel free to email us at We’d love to hear from you.

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3 Responses to Steampunk — An Explanation

  1. JennyH says:

    Love, love, love the first top shown! The music is very interesting. I want to listen to more. =)

  2. Michael says:

    I totally want those steampunk glasses! And the computer. And a giant dirigible I can take to work. And if said dirigible could be equipped with lasers and/or a grappling gun, that would be fine, too.

  3. JennyH says:

    I’m now officially in love with Insomniac Folklore! Thanks! =P

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