Steampunk, novel Frankenstein, as it was unusual for

the mix of old and new technology along with challenging the norms, has evolved
to become a major genre in film, books, and even fashion since its beginning as
a literary genre because of its originality and defiance.            Where did Steampunk come from? Steampunk is an offshoot
or subgenre of the Sci-fi and Cyberpunk genre in literature, that focusses on
using steam powered machines, usually from the Victorian era, as the base for
technical advancement. Novels such as Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the
Sea, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein were the main inspiration for the Steampunk genre. Though these
novels are classified as Sci-fi, they each contain elements relating to
Steampunk, and thus served as the basis for many Steampunk writers of today,
such as comic artist Alan Moore and his The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
These authors were especially influential as the themes in their novels and
they themselves often went against what was to be expected, such is the case
with Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein, as it was unusual for a woman to
write Science Fiction. Though the specific time is unknown, Steampunk is though
to have originated somewhere between 1985 to 1990. Author Kevin Jester was the
one to first coin the term Steampunk while trying to find a term that fit the
works of himself and other authors such as Tim Powers and James Blaylock. Kevin
Jester did not believe their work fit into the genre of Cyberpunk, but also
knew it was something other than simply Science Fiction. Jester is quoted as
saying “Personally, I think Victorian
fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a
fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock, and myself. Something based on
the appropriate technology of the era; like “steampunks”, perhaps” (K.W.
Jester). However, it was not until 1992 that attention was drawn to the genre
with the novel The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Then,
in 1995, with the release of Paul Di Fillippo’s Steampunk Trilogy, the word was
recognized as it was the first novel to use the word Steampunk in its title.
But it did not get officially recognized until 2010, when the word Steampunk
was added to the Oxford English Dictionary Since then, Steampunk has evolved to
become not only a literary genre, but a film genre, videogame genre, fashion
style, and even a lifestyle for some people. Steampunk elements have even made
it into all forms of mainstream media, such as the Harry Potter films, BBC’s
Sherlock Holmes television series, videogames such as Bioshock, and even bands
such as Panic At The Disco and Rush are putting Steampunk elements in their
fashion and videos. There are Steampunk conventions held annually in many part
of Canada, the United States, and the UK, further attesting to the popularity
and love of Steampunk across throughout the world. You even have Steampunk
communities popping up on places such as Etsy, a site where artists can sell
their work, and various Steampunk blogs. There are even Steampunk models and
fashion designers. In essence, Steampunk has become more of a movement than
simply a genre. So what makes Steampunk, Steampunk?            One of the key, defining elements in Steampunk is in the
first part of its name. The word steam referring to the retro-tech aspect, is
the first thing people think of when they hear the word Steampunk. In all
Steampunk works, there is a heavy emphasis on modern tech mixing with the past
eras. Usually, they mix modern tech with Victorian era aesthetic and
philosophy, creating an Industrial-Victorian theme. The basis of this theme
came from the idea of alternate history. What if our technology and science
developed differently? What if our technology never advanced past steam power,
but instead advanced in another area or became more focussed on science or
magic instead? Steampunk seeks to answer these questions of an alternate
history, with strange steam powered creations such as rockets, computers, along
with zeppelins and air ships. Steampunk is all about creativity, and tinkering
was a way to express this, resulting in strange tech, fashion, and accessories
many would never thing of. Among these are automatons, robots, or even
prosthetics powered by gear work or steam. However, the main gadgets or fashion
that are often seen in Steampunk tend to be clockwork or gears, goggles,
corsets, and spikes. This aspect has even carried over into interior design and
architecture due to its unique appeal and the fact that it stands out. Most of
this retro-tech makes use of the most common materials in the Victorian era, so
its common to see metals like brass or copper, along with glass, wood, and
recycled or patchwork things. A main key to Steampunk is that things aren’t
thrown out, they are repaired or salvaged to make new creations. Although
Steampunk is usually focussed on Victorian era tech, it can actually cover the
Edwardian era and anything from the Nineteenth to early Twentieth Centuries.
This range of unique elements, allows a great deal of inspiration for authors
and designers to draw upon for their creations. Some good examples of Steampunk
tech would be in films such as Mad Max or Tank Girl. This mixing of old and new
related to the second key element of steampunk by rebelling against what one
would expect.            The second defining element of Steampunk is the punk part,
which refers to going against the norms and conventions of society in order to
express one’s individuality and self. Steampunk focusses on the grittiness and
edge of dystopia, often revolving around rebelling against the clear cut, black
and white rules of the Victorian or even modern era. The rebelling can be done
in different ways depending on the individual. For some, they choose gothic,
burlesque, fetishism, vampire, or pirate inspired clothing to go against the
societal expectations and norms. The most common styles include lace, leather,
frills, capes, spikes, gears, gadgets, and glamour. Steampunk fashion isn’t
necessarily meant to look good, its meant more to express the personality of
the wearer and be an interesting piece those who see it. Other Steampunk
enthusiasts choose to express themselves with their gadgets or attitudes. As such,
common characters in Steampunk works tend to be explorers, countesses, lords,
prostitutes, and pirates, as these characters are often thought of when
thinking of words like freedom, power, and individuality. Because of
Steampunk’s focus on breaking the norm, many Steampunk books and films often
contain elements of empowerment, usually towards women and minorities in
society. This diversity and empowerment is part of what makes Steampunk so
appealing to people. Since power roles are usually reversed or challenged,
Steampunk is usually celebrated for turning things upside down and providing
interesting philosophical questions. Overall, the punk aspect of Steampunk is
about being imperfect and doing things yourself to shatter the expectations of
others and society.In
conclusion, Steampunk is a niche genre that has since gained popularity by
expanding to various forms of media, and has become so beloved due its mix of
old and new tech to defy conformity and societal expectations.