Steampunk is a genre term and style that came straight out from serious Literature, but it has also been used in other areas such as fashion, art, and is a current cultural movement in various forms such as graphic novels, comics and even employed in computer games today. Let’s explore the region of Steampunk on many levels to show you when it has been and where it is leading to.
The origin of Steampunk dates back to the 19th century in history. The genre is hybrid one which encompasses science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror. The style has cultural attitudes from the age of Victorian, but it has been reimagined in the world of today. The term is reported to have been used by fantasy and SF author Kevin Wayne Jeter in 1987. It was reportedly a letter to a science fiction magazine called: Locus. The author had written what he viewed to be “Victorian fantasy" as he shaped his two novels which were actually unofficial sequels to famous books written by H.G. Wells. These two books known as: Infernal Devices and Morlock Night which formed the basis of what is essentially considered Steampunk. He suggested to the magazine editors that his novels would be classified as “steampunk” including other works that were contemporary works such as Tim Powers. But some literary works that had been published long before Jeter invented the word have also been given the label.
It was a contradiction of the fiction of cyberpunk whereby advancement in technology impacts everyday life. Before the 1980’s, some works show various aspects of tropes and traits of “Steampunk” were done way before the 80’s. Such works include films by George Melies whereby it features the dream of the astronomer to visit the moon, and there was fantasy imagined in the form of technology as well as catchy images. Other works include: “Titus Alone” featuring anachronistic technology and its’ underground city, the film by Fritz Lang which features a mad professor and the Warlord novel by Michael Moorcocks. These works have traits of steampunk in the imagination of the world in the continuation of the policies of the imperialist, depiction of technologies and tragic end. Another novel that has elements of Steampunk is the Thomas Pynchon which has “V” as the mysterious protagonist.
There are some writers during this period in history in which their literary works were influenced by the direction of Steampunk regarding creativity and direction. Some of the notable works include that of HG. Wells and Jules Verne. These works depict visions of the future that are idiosyncratic. Other popular works include the works by Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, GK Chesterton, Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austin and Mark Twain.
Steampunk is now firmly in the modern society limelight. It has creative possibility that can be challenging to the assumptions of history, technology, sexuality, and even gender. Today there is the festivals geared toward Steampunk and the Victorian Steampunk Society are the people who run it. The festival is the largest one in Europe, and it takes place at the Lawn in Lincoln. The ‘lawn’ is a mental asylum that has been converted. There is also the possibility of purchasing steampunk style dresses and other accessories such as watches. Today steampunk has also been employed in computer games. A good example is “Dishonored”. The game by Arkane Studios is set in Dunwall which is a fictional city. Today it’s no surprise that Steampunk has also been used by the hip-hop culture, and there is likely rise of “Steampunk Rapper.”