Steampunk: Origins and Elements

The term “Steampunk” has gained tremendous popularity over the years and today we have books, movies and TV shows inspired by this phenomenon. So, what exactly is Steampunk?

This genre is based on the late 19th century but got its name in 1987. Author K.W. Jeter coined the term as a tongue-in-cheek reference to cyberpunk, which was a rage in the 1980s, to describe works on alternate history and steam power that he’d published along with his friends.

The Oxford Dictionaries entry on Steampunk reads thus: “A genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.”

In simpler terms, it is fiction based on a world where machinery from the 19th century is still prevalent. Thus, technologies that were new and popular back in the day, such as steam, electricity clockwork, dominate the genre. Authors also had a big part to play in Steampunk’s development, such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, who let loose their imagination and wrote about expansive devices which technology could not quite support in reality – Captain Nemo’s submarine Nautilus (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) is a case in point.

Steampunk clothing is also based around the Victorian era but with greater liberty to experiment. For instance, it takes the looks of 19th-century explorers, lords, soldiers, and countesses and throws more contemporary trends into the mix. Steampunk fashion has certain archetypes, such as the intrepid explorer’s helmet, telescope and binoculars; the adventure seeking aviator’s leather helmet and brass goggles; and the Steampunk gentleman’s lab coat, to complement an assortment of tools and accessories.

You can find high-quality Steampunk collectibles and accessories here.


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