Aesthetics Wiki

"Attune your ears to the grinding gears..."

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction 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.


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.


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. One of the defining features of steampunk is its use of technology and machinery. Steampunk jewelry often incorporates gears, cogs, and other mechanical elements that are inspired by the technology of the Victorian era. These elements are often used as decorative accents on jewelry pieces, and can give the jewelry a unique and industrial look[1]. Popular motifs include cogs, clocks, and sea creatures (particularly octopodes). Steampunk is popular in cosplay, but it can also be expressed more casually.[2][3]


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.



  • The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
  • Pasquale's Angel by Paul J. McAuley
  • New Crobuzon series by China Mieville
  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
  • The works of Gail Carriger
  • The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
  • Tales of the Ketty Jay Series by Chris Wooding
  • The Clockwork Century Series by Cherie Priest
  • The League of Seven by Alan Gratz
  • The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
  • Carnival of the Lost by Kieran Larwood
  • Clockwork Angels by Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson
  • Clockwork Lives by Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson
  • Clockwork Destiny by Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson


  • Around the World in 80 Days (1956, 2004)
  • The Great Race (1965)
  • Those Magnificent Men (1965)
  • The Moon and the Sledgehammer (1971)
  • Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989)
  • The City of Lost Children (1995)
  • Wild Wild West (1999)
  • Vidocq (2001)
  • Treasure Planet (2002)
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
  • Van Helsing (2004)
  • MirrorMask (2005)
  • The Golden Compass (2007)
  • 9 (2009)
  • Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Un Monstre à Paris (2011)
  • Jack and the Cuckoo Heart (2013)
  • Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
  • April and the Extraordinary World (2015)
  • Ballerina (2016)
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
  • Mortal Engines (2018)
  • Jingle Jangle (2020)

TV Shows[]

  • Thomas & Friends (1984-present)
  • Murdoch Mysteries (2008-present)
  • The Legend of Korra (2012-2014)
  • Carnival Row (2019-2022)
  • Arcane (2021-present)
  • The Nevers (2021-2023)

Anime, Manga, & Comics[]

  • Sherlock Hound (1984-1985)
  • Metropolis (2001)
  • Last Exile (2003)
  • Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
  • Steamboy (2004)
  • Tegami Bachi (2006-2015)
  • Hollow Fields (2007-2016)
  • Clockwork Angels: The Graphic Novels (2014)
  • Vanitas no Carte (The Case Study of Vanitas) (2015-present)
  • Violet Evergarden (2015-2020)
  • Princess Principal (2017)
  • Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (2017)
  • Beyond The Clouds (2018-2023)
  • The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage (2015)

Video Games[]

  • Tail Concerto (1998)
  • Thief series
  • Arcanum (2001)
  • Syberia series
  • Bioshock series
  • Professor Layton game series
  • Killing Floor 1 and 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009)
  • Machinarium (2009)
  • The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (2010)
  • Solatorobo: Red The Hunter (2010)
  • Steamworld series
  • Alice: Madness Returns (2011)
  • Steamlands (Nitrome game)
  • Dishonored (2012)
  • Guns of Icarus: Online (2012)
  • The Room series
  • Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (2014)
  • Codename S.T.E.A.M. (2015)
  • The Great Ace Attorney Collection
  • The Order: 1886 (2015)
  • Figment (2017)
  • FrostPunk (2018)
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel 1 & 2 (2021-2023)
  • Wizard101 (2008)
  • Pirate101 (2012)

Theme Parks[]

  • Discoveryland - Disneyland Paris (1992-present)
  • Mysterious Island - Tokyo DisneySea (2001-present)
  • Rookburgh - Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany) (2020-present)


Thomas Dolby is arguably one of the originators of the modern Steampunk scene, particularly in his first album The Golden Age of Wireless and his subsequent music videos for “She Blinded Me With Science”, “Radio Silence”, and “Europa and the Pirate Twins”.

  • The Golden Age of Wireless (1982)

Over the course of their lengthy career, the music of Canadian progressive rock band Rush fused a variety of aesthetics, along with several musical genres, into their overall soundscape. Towards the end of the band’s career, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart collaborated with science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson to produce the novels “Clockwork Angels,” “Clockwork Lives,” and “Clockwork Destiny.” This trilogy, and subsequent graphic novels, vividly conjures the Steampunk aesthetic which is further enhanced by artists Hugh Syme and Nick Robles. The following Rush albums are companions to the novels:

  • Clockwork Angels (2012)
  • Clockwork Angels Live (2013)

Other notable artists:

  • Steam Powered Giraffe
  • The Cog is Dead
  • Abney Park (Dark Cabaret band in the late 90s, transforming into a steampunk band in early 2005)[2]
  • The Mechanisms (as of 2020 the band is broken up, but the lore and setting is continued by Dr. Carmella (Maki Yamazaki), Jessica Law, and Kofi Young in their solo acts)
  • Coppelius
  • Dr. Steel
  • Paul Shapera



Main article: 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).


External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetic.