Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Brief Introduction to Steampunk

I love Steampunk, so much so, that occasionally I forget how much I love it. In fact, it took me quite some time to latch onto this as the topic for this weeks blogging assignment. Luckily, about three weeks ago when this link made its way into my twitter feed, I subscribed to the associated RSS. When I was trying to come up with topics, I saw it and knew exactly what I was going to do.

Lets get this show on the road.

What, on earth, is Steampunk? Wikipedia, if you know how to read it, is probably the best place to find a quick introduction to any topic. Steampunk is no different, wikipedia provides one of the best introductions I’ve found to the genre. The article includes a fair amount of basic information, and most importantly, pictures. Pictures are central to an understanding of Steampunk.

So, we’ve established that Steampunk is an aesthetic, a genre, and a would-be culture. Next I’d suggest you read the history compiled by the Voyages Extraodinaire bloggers. They’ve provided a fairly etensive and well researched history of Steampunk here. Its ok if you gave up after two chapters, there is a lot of information on these pages from the earliest origins of Steampunk in Victorian novels and silent film, to Disney’s early science fiction, to the emergence of Steampunk in 1980s Science Fiction. If you read nothing else from Voyages Extraordinaire, I’d suggest reading Chapter 3. Then have a look at this video from the world’s first Steampunk exhibit on now at The Oxford Museum of the History of Science. The video shows various aspects of the exhibit and features interviews from the curator and several of the artists whose work is featured.

Now that we know the origins of Steampunk, its time to explore the Steampunk aesthetic, have a look at the process illustrated here. When you’ve finished with that I’d suggest heading to Take a look at some of the galleries and you’ll really get a feel for the style. When you’re done there have a look at the gallery Wired Magazine has put together. Steampunk is very much an art form and it has made its way into fashion, film, literature, and television. In the last few years it has also captured the attention of the media, this article published in the Boston Globe is fairly typical.

At this point, you’ve probably realized you’ve seen this aesthetic before. Steampunk has appeared in novels, film, and art since the 1980s. Have a look at  and and see if there are any authors, directors, films, or shows that you’ve seen. 

Finally, I’d suggest you visit  a few of the blogs listed below:

Image Source:

*** Edit: November 2nd, 2009***

It's hilarious, everytime I write on a specific topic I start seeing it everywhere. Check it out, there is a steampunk reference in today's questionable content web comic.


  1. I am also a fan of steampunk. Not so much that I would seek it out, but enough that when I see it I enjoy it. There is just something delightfully subversive about it that makes it quite easy to like.

  2. Good call on the QC reference! :) And agreed, the photos I saw from that twitter feed a few weeks back were pretty cool. I had no idea that there was this much out there or that it was so popular in movies and fiction.

  3. I had no idea this was a genre. That is so cool.