Venturing into the unknown and unraveling the mysteries of this universe, Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction. The concept has been adopted by many famous movies and shows like The Wild, Wild West and the list goes on. The originator of the word was famous science fiction author K.W. Jeter. He created it to differentiate his works from other science fiction authors. This work takes a different turn from the conventional science fictions. What is steampunk? To understand this question lets dig in further.
What exactly is SteamPunk?
Steampunk is a concept that assumes that the technology never progressed beyond Steam Engines. This is also termed as a ‘Victorian Science Fiction’, where Victorian represents the 19th century era. The era formed the bedrock for modern technological advancement.
Steampunk utilizes the concept of steam engines to imagine steam powered aircraft, mechanical computer, etc. Steampunk writing encompasses presenting history in an alternative way which never happened. There is a very thin line between what you want to present and how much your audience understands. This silver line is the most crucial part.
Origin of Steampunk
Steampunk utilizes a steam engine to make complex machinery which we use today. Early authors like H.G. Wells in The Time Machine, Jules Verne in Nautilus, Mary Shelley in Frankenstein and Bam Stroker in Dracula have utilized this concept. However, Steampunk is originated in 1980’s by K.W. Jeter to differentiate the modern cyber-punk authors from the Victorian era fiction writers.
Modern authors like Alan Moore have beautifully utilized this concept in his work “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Steampunk now has stepped into other fields like fashion, engineering, music, and lifestyle. It is a whole new way to look at the things we use today. For instance, an iPhone made of wood, having a receiver which functions like the old telephone.
It involves combining bits and pieces available from the Victorian Era to create something elegant that would explain the modern complexity in a simplistic way. It is not just plain magic happening, but it is a reinvention of how people see things with beautiful and logical explanations to support the concept.
Impact of Steampunk
The biggest impact of this concept has been in product design. People are reinventing their love for old designs which used brass, wood, copper, mechanical workings and engravings. It has also changed the opinion about old/upcycled products. Old items are being upgraded to look like Steampunk technology and are being sold online. Products made out of this concept range from simple things like coffee table, pen stand to complex products like watches.
The ‘Punk’ in Steampunk represents the individuality of the creator through his representation of art. Steampunk trend is quickly picking up with fashion designers too. It is being combined with the latest in fashion trends to give a unique statement. There are certain shows like The Sherlock Homes that utilize a blend of the modern and Victorian science.
This has created new opportunities for fiction writers and creators. There are two concepts that present the steampunk era. One concept is to look at the future from the present era. Many writers came very close to imagine concepts similar to what modern technology will look like in the future. The other concept is to present the modern world with the technology of 19th century inventions. This translates modern concepts like internet, spy movies, etc. into Victorian contexts using Steampunk concepts.
Why the Steam in Steampunk?
Steam in steampunk not only reflects steam engine but more prominently it reflects an era. It reflects the era when the steam engine was modern and dominant. It is a re-writing of the era which formed the basis of modernity. The advent of steam engine greatly increased human productivity and evolved them into a class of professionals. The changes in science and society during the Victorian era have been significant. Steampunk writing takes influence from such culture and can be translated into any culture.
Why the ‘Punk’ in Steampunk?
Punk rock was the result of the circumstances that prevailed during the Second World War. It makes a distinction between the world war and the Victorian products. Gears have become the trademark symbol of Steampunk. It was invented long before Steampunk era, but remains in use in contemporary times too. It represents the flywheel, pistons, and other powerful items of the Victorian era.
The steampunk work has attracted lots of people towards it for various reasons. Some people are just attracted to the Victorian era products. Some may enjoy the unique way that is used to represent the complex modern technology. Some people enjoy the fashion trend used in such works. The old brass, copper, and wooden products sound appealing and inspire artists to create more art made of these 19th century materials. Steampunk is greatly inspired by the period it reflects. If you are looking to start with it, you should know where to start.
People looking for Steampunk fashion, old pics depicting fashion from the 19th century can be a good place to begin. Similarly, for the photographic enthusiast, old pictures can provide an easy first step.