Literary works of early 20th Century, and even dating to the Victorian era, have
influenced the genre known as Steampunk. While it is mostly a literary genre, it is also
defined by technology such as steam engines that were incorporated into the era’s science
fiction and fantasy. It’s been described as a sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more
whimsy and fewer orphans or, as Jess Nevins said, “Steampunk is what happens when
Goths discover brown.”
Steampunk has found its way into other categories such as romance, erotica, and young
adult fiction. Also growing in popularity are Steampunk clothes, a line defined by the
rough technology of the early 1900’s where a pair of goggles would fit in quite nicely.
This personal style includes both clothing and jewelry and, while the clothes are not
exactly Victorian, adding in technological bits or hints of a more adventurous life than a
typical Victorian citizen.
There are also Steampunk games such as Bioshock II and graphic novels and movies like
the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Sherlock Holmes episodes. TV shows
include Warehouse and there is Steampunk music and performance art.
While the genre includes the Victorian era, it includes advanced machines based on 19th
century technology, as well as the supernatural as well and may even take place in
Of course, Steampunk gadgets are coming into the real world. People have Steampunk’d
everything from computers, desks, telephone, watches and guitars to cars, motorcycles,
and homes. These objects can vary from a grungy look of a forgotten antique to the shiny
overwrought newness of a Victorian gentleman’s club. These are brass and copper, glass
and polished wood, engraving and etching, and details for the sake of details.
Finally, Steampunk shows a philosophical angle as well, which is somewhat of a
combination between the ideals of creativity and self-reliance and the Victorian
optimistic view of the future. This last part has led to accusations that Steampunk
includes a fair amount of empire worship, which is a reasonable concern. Another
criticism has been that Steampunk focuses on the best of the past and quietly sweeps the
problems of the day under the rug.