The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

Hi guys - I only joined recently. I've really enjoyed chatting to everyone I've met so far XD

I've started a blog and I wanted to write about what steampunk is for new people. But I thought that... what would be more interesting is to ask everyone here. We all know the usual stuff we read on wikipedia and stuff. What I'm really interested in is what it is about steampunk that excites *you* - what you like about the genre, maybe what you like to see and don't like to see, whether in art, fiction, film or otherwise. 

I'll go first (to be fair)...

I think there is an optimism in steampunk, a promise by technology of what could be at a time that is otherwise pretty grim, a bit like Oliver Twist starting in the rookery and finding his family. Steampunk is about the big city that is oppressive and dark, but there is a sense of magical wonder, a bit like Disney's workshop. Visually the world is amazing - even beyond the corsets, long coats, top-hats and goggles. It invites the steampunker to be an inventor and creator and to fix problems using wit and elbow grease, whether travelling through time, exploring a still mysterious horizon or soaring through the sky n majestic wings and balloons. There is sometimes a sense of magic as well, or at least the sunset of magic as dawn of reason and machine approaches.

I guess in summary there is a sense of romanticism. Not romance in the sense of Romeo and Juliet (though there is often that as well) but the sense of wonderment in a world that is not *that* distant from our own. There is also mystery, in the truest sense of Holmes as the dawn of the industrial era opens and artificers plum the potential of its depths. 

That's me :3

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not my original thought, but ...

"... Steampunk allows us to explore the human relationship with technology."

Steampunk is a style that I wish the world could be!  The excitement lies in creating new and wonderful inventions without the all empowering use of electricity, but with the ingenuity of the human mind: whatever you can come up with!  It also has enoygh leeway for you tom create your own world and let others share in it.

Betwixt then and now as it perhaps should have been...for each this is different.  Betwixt now and when/where as it perhaps should be...again different for each.  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea...Sherlock Holmes...War of the Worlds...etc.

Naw be a steam-punk rebel and go neo classical steam-punk.  They had basic steam engins available in roman times but they where a curiosity.  Wear a toga and ride a steam powered chariot.  its as legit as any victorian steampunk.  

There's no set label for steampunk. I've always just explained as the Victorian era meets cybertech ... just take out the use of electricity and you have such magnificent new machines to use, though in a very different way.

Steampunk is a flavor of science fiction...and as such capable of embracing a variety of elements.  At it's core steampunk is a "reimagining" of the late 1800's-early 1900's not only in technology but socially, culturally and all the possibilities that this allows.
...and that's it.  It is not "necessarily" anything else.  It is certainly not "necessarily" utopian or politically correct, nor does it require liberal amounts of cogs( or liberals).  It is not necessarily western, eastern, nor is it necessarily politically forward, superior  or corrective.
It does not "necessarily redress the mistakes of the past or condone those mistakes. 
It is not here for us to categorize, nor claim claim authority over or hammer into anyone's definitive pattern.

For me...it's a canvas and palette to tell stories of empires, nationalism and colonialism in a way that exposes the historical acceptance  of these concepts without attempting to condone or condemn them.  It's an arena to play the "what if" game and allow the blood to soak the sand without the need to clean the historical blood away with the PC sponge.  More, it's a genre that I use to expose the historical beliefs and behaviors that EVERYBODY of the time carried, rather than vilify any one creed or nation or pretend any one people were perfect.

It's exploration, exploitation, nationalism, classism and a whole bunch of other issims...that can be corrected, commented upon, revised, reversed and presented.  It's antiqued science fiction clad in social commentary and riveted together with wishful thing and brutal honesty.  It's shiny and oil stained and smells like coal oil and oppression with a hint of optimism and wouldn'titbenice.

...oh, and it's got a gear hot glued to it... 

lol  your my personal hero of the night.

Huzzah!

Most of the time when people think steam-punk they think Victorian.  nothing wrong with that, it really is the pivotal point where steam-punk can reliably be said to start.  A case can be made for ancient steam-punk but lets put that on a back burner and focus on the Victorian.  

I dont think it was a pretty grim time.  It was a pinncale of technological marvels that no one had ever beheld.  Man building amazing things and marveling at his magnificence.   Heck it was such a great time with so many new things that a great story (i so wish was true) was started that the head of the patent office advised President McKinley to close to patent office as everything that could be invented had been.  

Human evolution had reached a point where with hard work, determination and ingenuity any man could rise above the common man and not just be great, but be glorious.  Never before had the average man had access to education or the time saving devices that made such leisure activities as wonder and experimentation available.  I mean only a few short years before people had to work hard on the farm make enough food to feed your kids enough that hopefully they wouldn't die, and to pay your tax to the lord of the land.  People just didnt make curiosities or devices that didn't serve a specific purpose just because they could.  Frankly because most people couldn't afford the extravagance.  

Previously you had to be born into a wealthy family to get an education, or have access to tools and equipment.  Finally it was it affordable to publish your ideas so others could marvel at you and share ideas as well.

Invention, optimism, and a ravenous appetite for knowledge.  Also arguably the first emergence of Grrrl Power.  Women intellectuals where not just a curiosity themselves but becoming commonplace.  Again not long before women toiled in the fields along side their husbands and often died in child birth.  Yes some ruled the house with an iron fist, or maybe swinging an iron skillet, few enjoyed many freedoms.  

The promise of a better tomorrow, today!  Likely the first time many people thought that.  

Today i say steam-punk is a style.  Retro Futurism is a term i love, taking things that where, or could be and just give it a little nudge.  A lot of people point out movies like Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow, but i think thats part of the larger Ray Gun Noir than just steam-punk.  And that blurs the already hazy lines.  

What steam-punk is, cant be explained with out a drink.  I think it maybe easier to say what its not.

anyone else feel like we should be in big over stuffed leather chairs enjoying a glass of bourbon and smoking a cigar while discussing this?

Or perhaps, a chilled Mint Julep, good Sir.

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