Science fiction with an antique flair; that’s how I usually define steampunk to the uninitiated, but my definition falls short.
Gears and gadgets, corsets and tea parties, all these you’ll find at any steampunk convention. But look beyond the accoutrements and into the eyes and ideas of those present and you’ll find a more tantalizing amalgam of things archaic and traditional with the innovative unconventional.
A story in a familiar yet exotic setting, with parallels to our current day, these I enjoy writing. While some question the motives and actions of Pax Britannica, serfs consider the Tsar’s perch upon the throne unjust and precarious. Examining empires of old sheds light on the building pressures of today. A challenge to social norms of those bygone days of chauvinism and chivalry, these too find themselves intertwined between scenes of action and adventure. Our perspective on these prejudices of the past helps us examine with a fresh view the diversity of our future. As with most science fiction, I enjoy an exciting fable which races the heart and challenges the mind.
While billions buy fashions churned out by the factories of ‘cool’ the steampunk crowd defies their clarion call and defines their own dress code. Garments and accessories seldom retain their original appearance unless handcrafted. With bits and pieces plucked from varied cultures and ages they create a look unique, yet clearly belonging to the genre.
Many pieces of popular culture enter the steampunk world transformed from its sleek clean roots. Cars, furniture, even cell phones get a makeover. Characters from modern fiction find themselves wielding weapons and wearing costumes influenced by a rewind of the clock and a shift in the course of history.
With an attitude of acceptance and a modicum of civility borrowed from another time, conventions teem with well mannered, good natured, open minded folks. Our greatest common ground stems from our shared ‘outsiderness’ when compared to our peers. And yet these outsiders welcome everyone, even those unacquainted with everything steam.
So what strums your heartstrings about steampunk? What keeps you coming back for more?