Roots of Steampunk


We love everything steampunk here at Hattast-ique.  Maybe it is the fantasy of it all or maybe it is the idea of a world that is inspired by steam powered engines.  It just pulls you in and the possibilities seem endless.  For me it makes me think of a more romantic Victorian inspired time fused with modern technologies.  Sherlock Holmes meets a creature completely made of gears!  I personally love science fiction and find that the genre of steampunk speaks to my soul.

So exactly where did this term steampunk generate from?  The term was first used by K.W. Jeter to distinguish his literary works and works by other authors as a sub genre of science fiction that was different than the trending cyberpunk genre during that 1980’s.  The term first appeared in 1987 but many literary works that had been previously written can be retroactively deemed steampunk.  The precursor works that inspired steampunk were most likely the writers of 19th century Victorian scientific romances.  The authors of these works were Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley.  Jules Verne wrote a book ‘The Steam House’ in 1880's about the travels of British colonists in a wheeled house by way of a huge steam powered mechanical elephant through India.  Other great examples include Mary Shelley with the work of ‘Frankenstein’ and H.G. Wells with his book ’The Time Machine’.

So how is steampunk described in terms of today’s society?  It seems to be the philosophy and artistic design of the old Victorian age mixing with modern technology.   Steampunk is often set in alternative history during 19th century British Victorian era, American “wild west”, or post apocalyptic future.  It uses a mix of fantasy, horror, and science fiction.  

When I think of steampunk I think of a world of wonder, I think that is why it draws the science fiction and fantasy fans.  That combined with steam powered, mechanical instruments it feels like it could be real to us because we are surrounded by modern technologies.

So our hats are off to K.W. Jeter for creating this term and to the authors both current and past for providing such a wonderful, curious places for us to travel to. 






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  • Shirley Taylor on

    Very interesting article ! Did not know ! Thanks for posting ??

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