What is steampunk?

Steampunk. If you’re a writer, you may have run across this cute little term in an editor or agent’s “interests” section. As a reader, your thinking, “Say what? Punk?”

Yeah, I know. Makes me think of pink Mohawks too.

But don’t get confused here. Steampunk is a blenderized combination of the late 1800s/early 1900s, industrialization, and, you guessed it, a punk rock feel (click here for Wikipedia’s more in-depth, more technical, and more helpful description). While discussing this theme with another writer, she and I decided (scientifically and on our very strong authority) that this isn’t a genre so much as a thematic element of a story. Difference? Steampunk can be implemented in so many stories, making it a creature all its own.

steampunkSo, what is considered steampunk? Well, going back to the beginning, when the late 1800s was contemporary, you had the oh-so-talented Jules Verne writing books like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. There you go. There’s steampunk in its infancy, in probably its most original form.

In modern days, the element of steampunk may look like the new movie versions of Sherlock Holmes, or something of that nature. It could almost be described as sci-fi meets historical fiction…or something like that. But steampunk doesn’t have to take place in the 1800s. Oh no. It just has to have the look and feel of Victorian times and industrialization. So you can set it in modern times and the future too!

Don’t ask me how. I haven’t been able to generate any ideas on those two points.

But I do have some thoughts swirling now. So I best get started. If the book industry has taught me anything so far, it’s that as soon as something’s made into a movie–wizards, vampires, dystopian, etc.–it goes out of vogue for a while.

So I better get cracking. I don’t mean to be rude, but excuse me while I go pick up my copy of Around the World in Eighty Days.

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