Steampunk aesthetics come from a sub-genre of science fiction of the same name that incorporates technology and designs inspired by 19th-century fashion and industrial machinery (including steam-powered machinery, hence the name). Steampunk fiction often explores the anachronistic idea of what would have happened if society built upon steam as a primary energy source and maintained the Victorian visual style.

Visual

Steampunk engineering often includes visible gears and screws, as well as analog clocks, steam-powered machines (including vehicles such as airships that often carry flying wooden ships), rotating propellers and dials. Those are always made of metals, wood, or even glass, but never plastics or other modern materials.

Fashion

Steampunk fashion often includes Victorian-style clothing, such as suits, waistcoats, top hats and long dresses. Lace, leather and brass are common materials. Accessories are also important to steampunk; popular ones include brass/copper jewelry, pocket watches, and goggles. Popular motifs include cogs, clocks, and sea creatures (particularly octopodes). Steampunk is popular in cosplay, but it can also be expressed more casually.[1][2]

Written

A lot of Steampunk is, much like its futuristic counterpart Cyberpunk, rooted in literary traditions, especially among the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. While it doesn't exactly share the nihilistic worldview often seen in Cyberpunk (opting instead for a more romantic worldview), it does share the rebellious spirit Cyberpunk has instilled in its aesthetic DNA, often used as a critique of the Victorian social etiquette that was popular in the time period by deconstructing or outright challenging the notions head-on.

Media

Film

  • Hugo
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • The City of Lost Children
  • Van Helsing
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Wild Wild West
  • Around the World in 80 Days

Animation

  • Howl's Moving Castle


Sub-Genres

Teslapunk

Teslapunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction which is similar to steampunk, named for scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, and refers to fictional narratives or visual styles inspired by 18th, 19th, and early 20th century pioneers of electricity and electrical devices.

This narrative or style commonly imagines an alternate history where widely available cheap (or free), clean, and often highly portable electrical energy replaces all previous energy sources (such as wood, coal and oil, and the steam engines that were fuelled by them), but has yet to be replaced (or is never replaced) by other energy sources itself (such as diesel or nuclear power).

Gallery

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.