Defined as a subgenre of theoretical fiction or science-fiction that emphasizes archaic technology, usually from the Victorian era. It is also used to refer to a trend in fashion and music.

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What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is a science fiction subgenre that blends retrofuturistic technology and aesthetics inspired by industrial steam-powered machinery from the nineteenth century. Steampunk works are frequently set in an alternate history of the Victorian era or the American "Wild West," in which steam power is still widely used, or in a fantasy world where steam power is still widely used.

Steampunk is distinguished from Neo-Victorianism by its use of anachronistic technology or retrofuturistic innovations as imagined by individuals in the nineteenth century. It is also founded in the era's viewpoint on fashion, culture, architectural design, and art.

Fictional machines, such as those seen in the writings of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, may be examples of such technology. Alternative-history-style presentations of technology like steam guns, lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers like Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine are some instances of steampunk.


Since the 1990s, the application of the steampunk label has expanded beyond works set in recognisable historical periods, to works set in fantasy worlds that rely heavily on steam/spring-powered technology. The fantasy setting van be seen in tabletop and computer role-playing games as well as movies. Notable examples include World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, Bioshock: Infinite, and Disney's 2002 film Treasure Planet.

The genre has been incorperated into a multitude of other settings involving the American West, fantasy, horror, post-apocalyptic, victorian, and asian settings.


History & Influence

The word steampunk originally appeared in 1987, while it is now used to refer to a wide range of works of fiction dating back to the 1950s and earlier. Steampunk can also include aspects from other speculative fiction genres, such as fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other areas of science fiction, making it a hybrid genre.

It investigates alternate futures or pasts as a sort of speculative fiction, but it may also address real-world societal concerns. Steampunk also refers to any of the creative forms, clothing fads, or subcultures that have sprung up in response to the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and mid-century filmmaking.

Steampunk fashion has no fixed rules, although it does tend to blend current fashions with Victorian elements. Ruffles, corsets, gowns, and petticoats; suits with waistcoats, coats, top hats and bowler hats, tailcoats and spats; or military-inspired clothes are examples of such influences.