People are often fascinated by the past and the way people used to dress and live. Steampunk is a rather interesting genre because it involves much more than just history. It combines various characteristics of the Victorian-era and science fiction and is actually considered to be a subgenre of science-fiction.
Furthermore, it considers what life in the Victorian era would be like if steam power were present. It includes fictional machines envisioned by authors such as Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and HG Wells. Its charm seems to lie in the combination of historical styles and futuristic ideas that really seems to define and underlie the entire steampunk movement.
The actual term steampunk was coined by K.W. Jeter in 1987 to describe the type of themes that were evident in literary works that combined both futuristic technological elements with elements seen in the 19th century. Although it may seem to be quite an obscure subgenre, it has actually had notable influence on the arts and on the fashion world. In fact, the steampunk movement can be seen in many movies even – for instance, “Hellboy 2”, “The time machine” and “Wild wild west”. The mix of gadgets and contraptions in a historical setting seen in these movies is clear evidence of the scope of Steampunk´s influence.
Probably the most important element of steampunk is that it is set in the steam age, before there was electricity and when inventors had to use what they had. Technology is another essential feature that is brought into this subgenre. Notably, the inventions are usually made of naturally occurring materials, such as wood, brass and leather. It is this retro aspect that makes it so appealing and intriguing to many people.
At the same time, the movement includes romantic aspects and takes us to a time when old-fashioned values were important. Although steampunk generally relates back to and incorporates elements of the Victorian era of history, there is room for much creativity and imagination. The various styles and trends of the times also vary depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on; with the Europeans having more Victorian era influences while the Americans tend to incorporate the western styles. The movement, though, is not about who is more historically accurate, and can therefore be aptly described as an imaginative “mash up” of olden times with future possibilities.
People who follow the steampunk movement not only attend various conventions and meetings but they often design, make and then dress up in special costumes. They generally make their own clothing and add in accessories like goggles and hats to further accentuate their look. They even use gears as jewelry. Much of the inspiration for costumes comes from steampunk movies such as Jules Verne’s story “20,000 leagues under the sea”.
Certain types of machines and contraptions are also popular in this subgenre. Time machines, zeppelins, robots as well as ray guns are a commonly recurring element.