Understanding the Steampunk Craze
If you love science fiction with an old-world twist, you may love the current steampunk craze. This refers to a subculture of science fiction that is set during times of steam power, so either in the early 19th century or in a post-apocalyptic world where modern power is unavailable. Typically steampunk includes not just steam powered machinery but also the type of dress and homes you would have seen during the early days of the 19th century and beyond. It’s a fun culture to explore for its stories as well as its overall style.
Steampunk has gathered quite a following in recent years because it steps away from modern and futuristic settings and stories and gives the readers something new by using something old, namely, mechanical creations that are somewhat clunky and old-fashioned but still very effective. Because steampunk is set in a time when computers are not invented or have been destroyed, people need to rely on old-fashioned ingenuity when it comes to the mechanics involved with vehicles and weapons. Large steam-powered trains are often found in steampunk stories, and these can provide a new twist on an old setting that’s perfect for murder mysteries or alien invasion stories.
Because steampunk is also about culture rather than just mechanics, it can be interesting to imagine stories where women still dressed in long skirts and corsets and men wore suits and bowler hats. This can add some rich, visual elements to your story that may be missing in today’s stories in which everyone is dressed in jeans and looks like everyone else.
Stories that incorporate steampunk are often more involving and intriguing than many modern-day science fiction stories. In today’s science fiction stories, conflicts are often won by having the most advanced weapon or the most bullets. In a steampunk setting, the persons in the story need to rely on more basic weapons when there’s a conflict and may need to create weapons and vehicles using old-fashioned gears and real nuts and bolts, not lasers and rocket fuel. This can make the stories more intriguing and also give them added interest.
If you’re interested in checking out steampunk stories, you might start with some graphic novels that are centered on steampunk and get to know the genre and typical style. Steampunk Magazine is a good place to start as this involves the use of steampunk in its stories and keeps you updated on the culture. You can also check out William Gibson’s novel The Difference Engine, or rent the 1999 movie Wild Wild West with Will Smith, which is one of the more modern movies to use steampunk in its storytelling.