What is Steampunk?

First, some cute little snippets to describe Steampunk:

  • Imagine if the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were history, rather than fiction1.
  • Retro-futurism
  • Looking to the future through the lenses of the past
  • It's what happened when Goths discovered Sepia.

Steampunk is a relative of cyberpunk and is a similar contraction, combining Steam and Punk.

  • Steam harkens back to the late 1700s and early 1900s – where Victorian ideals of dress, manners, propriety and style were combined with the Industrial Revolution’s explosion of devices of convenience powered by steam and clockwork. Dirigibles and massive mechanical thinking engines ala Charles Babbage feature heavily, as well as adventuring into Deepest Darkest Whateverica and claiming it for the Queen.
  • Punk has the attitude of rejecting the status quo (anti-establishment), the current ideals and replacing it with a solid dose of rebellious self reliance. Constructions made by the self or a group rather than mass produced commercialism is a key concept here.

Some unifying elements of steampunk are Do It Yourself (also helps when things inevitably break; if you know how it went together it’s easier to fix), Neo-Victorian aesthetic (chances are most people have garments that could fit this aesthetic that need tweaking), Retro-futurism (jetpacks et al.), Romanticism (steamy!). If you’d like to know more, there’s the always reliable cough cough Wikipedia article on Steampunk.

Recommended Reading Experiencing



Actual Plays/ Podcasts

Authors and Artists

Blogs/ Magazines/ Subscribe-ables


Movies/ TV

Steampunk Stuff by Me

By me

On this very site you can see information of the steampunk group I co-created years ago and my fellow founding members of the Royal Omnitological Society for Electrodyne Adventurers. My blog has posts tagged Steampunk. There's a web-app for generating cogs, however my gauge generate was naff so I removed it.

Silly Terms

Pronunciation guides are specified in English phonology. Badly. For fun. The ever popular TV Tropes website has a Punk Punk article that goes into way more areas that are more well known than these.

SteamPost /ˈstiːmpəʊst/

Instead of rebelling punk, its a survivalist post apocalyptic rationale that drives this intra-genre. Typified by grime, grit, rust, cobbled-together relic-devices from lost civilisations (spoilers: us) and very smart urchins. Some of them explain how we ended up in this mess but many of them just let us surmise that, somewhen, “we done goofed.” TVTropes refers to this as The Apunkalypse.

SteamPulp /stiːmpʌlp/

Things can be marvellous and adventure is everywhere. Evil is obvious and can be defeated by a swift punch to the chin, it may cackle and threaten; but rarely do they do things like break fingers to prove points, evil loves the idea of a civilised duel to show who was right. Strange locales, rose-tinted views of just about everything.

SteamPast /stiːmpɑːst/

Take actual history and en-tech-ify it. Larger and more solid class divides, many more orphans, the march-of-modern-technology (read: industrial revolution) results in a depression and massive job loss rather than a wonderful age of reason and wonder (unless you’re monarchy or upper class, then bully for you).

SteamPink /stiːmpɪŋk/

Ged Maybury: Steampinker
the horror…

Only one example exists to my knowledge. Thank Tesla.

I kid, this is Ged Maybury, excellent Steampunk author, having fun with the genre. Fun! It's what we're here for!

SteamParts /stiːmpɑːts/

Just about anything, as long as you cover at least part of it in cogworks, gears, vents, brass or other sciencey doodaderry.

  1. It's worth pointing out that Verne's novels had pages of engineering and technical specifications stemming from his research efforts. As "The Specialist" of Welcome To Steampunk informed me, the French submarine Plongeur was the basis of the Nautilus. Verne also consulted with Voltaire regarding the battery for the craft. So just because it seems fantastical or anachronistic it doesn't mean it is. ↩︎