Steampunk. You hear the term more and more. But, what is exactly Steampunk, other than an excuse for people to wear bustles and brass goggles?
I commonly describe Steampunk as “Jules Verne on Crack” – which I’m sure would make my high school English teacher sigh in despair. Steampunk is imagining a world world where steam and natural gas, not coal and electricity, are still the primary power sources, yet technology continues to advance. It’s a world abounding with airships, gas lamps, gears, cogs, and brass goggles and populated with mad scientists, philosophers, adventurists, bass robots, and air pirates.
HG Wells and Jules Vernon are huge inspirations for Steampunk. Examples of Steampunk books include Gail Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate series, Cherrie Priest’s Boneshaker, and Scott Westerfeld’s Levithian.
Steampunk stories can be set in the past, in the future, or on another planet. They don’t even have to be Victorian. The Wild West is a very popular place for Steampunk and I’ve even been hearing a bit about Steampunk set in the Regency Era. Steampunk transcends genres, creating genre-blending and bending at its finest. Steampunk stories can be dark or light and funny, scary or romantic, for kids or adults, they can even feature the supernatural or paranormal elements.
It’s in the setting, the gadgets, and the characters–who could speak like Victorian ladies or fast-talking American teenagers. Steampunk characters often desire to make the world a better place in some way shape or form – even if it’s by blowing up parliament. Their adventures are often about figuring out where they fit even if it’s means bucking the system.
With Steampunk, anything is possible. Steampunk offers an opportunity to be creative and make amazing worlds ranging from gritty to opulent.
But Steampunk doesn’t stop at writing. Steampunk can be found in movies (Suckerpunch, anyone?), music (Abney Park and Emilie Autumn are my favorites), clothes (if you haven’t seen the boots at Clockwork Couture, you should), and jewelry (I am partial to tiaras made of clockhands). There are entire steampunk online communities dedicated to making rayguns, writing steampunk, and steampunk in general, like the Steampunk Empire http://www.thesteampunkempire.com and The Steampunk Writers and Authors Guild. http://steampunkwriters.ning.com/ There’s even #steampunkchat on Twitter on Friday nights at 6 pm PST.
BBC America recently did a short segment on Steampunk http://steampunkworkshop.com/steampunk-bbc-america — author Leanna Renee Hieber’s in the background about midway.
If you’re curious about Steampunk, all April long Steamed! will be running Steampunkapalooza, a month long Steampunk birthday bash blog party featuring Steampunkers from Gail Carriger to Leanna Renee Hieber and GD Falksen. There will be giveaways, mayhem, and enough information on Steampunk to overload your circuits. We’ve just announced our epic lineup and are hosting a kick-off contest. http://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/steampunkapalooza-2011-lineup-and-giveaway/
If you’re at the Romantic Times Reader’s Convention April 6-9, stop by the Steampunk Social on April 8th and say hello to me.
So, now that you know all about Steampunk are you ready to write? Are there any elements of Steampunk you’re curious about?
Suzanne Lazear occupies a small corner of the west coast where she lives with the hubby, the tot, a hermit crab, and a praying mantis named Cinderella. Sometimes known as “Lolita Suzanne” a regular blogger at Steamed! (Ageofsteam.wordpress.com). She always plays with swords and is hardly ever described as normal. Her Steampunk Dark Fairytale for teens, “Innocent Darkness” will be released by Flux in 2012.