How can you explain what Steampunk is to somebody who is new to the topic? In recent years, Steampunk as a movement have become bigger and more prominent. Some new, great TV shows are very much done in a Steampunk style. Although no clear boundaries exist that would define Steampunk a passionate Steampunker can at a glance recognize is something is Steampunk or not. It is kind of an art form as well as being a community of people who enjoy a certain fantasy alternative universe that Steampunk is.


steampunk festival

What does Steampunk mean exactly?

“steampunk noun, steam·​punk | \ˈstēm-ˌpəŋk  \

Definition of Steampunk 

science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology”

Steampunk can be thought of in several different ways. Generally speaking, you can define Steampunk as a part of science fiction genre. Although it is inspired by 19 century style it is also located in an alternative universe where history developed differently compared to our time. The most prominent feature in Steampunk art and literature are machines that use steam power or the power of steam engine to function.

Although the technology of Steampunk culture is based on a steam engine era, it is also pretty advanced and enables all kinds of possibilities. There are steam-powered flying machines, helicopters, tanks and guns as well as all kinds of fantastic gadgets that can even conquer the time itself.

The art and fashion of Steampunk belongs to the late 19 and early 20th century and most closely resembles the Victorian-style. That specific retro-futuristic style is always prominently featured in all works of Steampunk culture.

The term Steampunk has origins in the 1980’s as the kind of the twist of the word cyberpunk. The man who first thought of that word was sci-fi author K. W. Jeter.

What is the time period for Steampunk?

steampunk city reflecting the time period of steampunk

In addition to Steampunk belonging to late 19th and early 20th century culture, it is also often portrayed as happening in American Wild West setting. The typical example of this would be the TV series Wild Wild West from 1965.

The Victorian era from the Steampunk draws, its most recognizable clothing style is the period in history from our real timeline when Queen Victoria was ruling the United Kingdom. That period lasted from 1837 to 1901 when Queen Victoria died. After that time came the Georgian era and after that came the Edwardian period.

What makes Steampunk steampunk? What is it all about?

steampunk machine

As an alternative future, in Steampunk, steam powered machines are in the heart of the technology. The level of technological advancement did not progress from the Industrial Revolution level, but that does not mean that it has not become quite potent and diverse. One good example of that can be found in the literature works of Jill Verne, the great example being “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”. The famous submarine Nautilus was very advanced and was able to sustain the life of its crew for many days and weeks under the sea level without rising to the surface.

Interesting facts to note is when that novel was written the real submarines were very primitive and were nowhere close to the very capable submarines of today.

One of the symbols that make a Steampunk very unique is the gears and mechanisms. In almost any setting and the works of Steampunk you will find advanced machines performing incredible feats but it still use complex gear mechanisms as the essence of how they work.

Some examples of these kinds of gadgets are steam cannons, lighter than air airships and analog computers.

Although the overall theme of steampunk genre is science fiction or sci-fi it also often includes other genres such as fantasy, horror or historical fiction. This makes it a kind of hybrid genre, which does not have rigid boundaries.

Where does the Steampunk originates from?

victorian era city setting which inspired the origin of steampunk

Famous novelists such as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley and Edward S. Alice who believed in the 19th century and wrote some very famous novels and Inspired imagination of many of their readers. The wondrous gadgets and the thrill of adventure were the catalyst that started the subculture Steampunk.

How to define what is Steampunk fashion?

steampunk fashion. A girl wearing a steampunk fashion dress and hat

Steampunk fashion is defined by the romantic view of the technology in the literature in the industrial revolution setting. There is also a heavy influence of post-apocalyptic ideas, which reflect in a sense that weapons and combat gadgets are prominently featured in Steampunk costumes for both men and women.

Steampunk fashion consists of clothing, hairstyling, jewelry, body modification and make-up.

Nowadays, what initially started as a custom-made fashion products worn in a Steampunk conventions has become mass produced fashion available in both online and regular retail stores.

Lately due to enormous popularity of steampunk even a steampunk fashion for kids have developed.

The main influence in the look and feel of the Steampunk fashion is 19th century clothes and Victorian fashion in general.

Good way to get into a steampunk is to watch some of the most popular steampunk movies.