Maili’s got a fabulous new job! Go congratulate her! And in the course of discussing it, steampunk romances came up. She’s mentioned them before, but I have no clue what they are.
Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960’s and 70’s, the term “steampunk” originated in the late 80’s as a tongue in cheek variant of “cyberpunk”. The prototypical “steampunk” stories were essentially cyberpunk tales that were set in the past, using steam-era technology rather than the ubiquitous cybernetics of cyberpunk but maintaining those stories’ “punkish” attitudes towards authority figures and human nature. Originally, like cyberpunk, steampunk was typically dystopian, often with noir and pulp fiction themes, as it was a variant of cyberpunk. As the genre developed, it came to adopt more of the broadly appealing utopian sensibilities of Victorian scientific romances.
Steampunk fiction focuses more intently on real, theoretical or cinematic Victorian-era technology, including steam engines, clockwork devices, and difference engines. While much of steampunk is set in Victorian-era settings, the genre has expanded into medieval settings and often delves into the realms of horror and fantasy. Various secret societies and conspiracy theories are often featured, and some steampunk includes significant fantasy elements. There are frequently Lovecraftian, occult and Gothic horror influences as well.
Umm…okay then. I still had no freakin idea what a steampunk romance is. The page is…extensive.
The origins of steampunk date back to the pioneering science fiction works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain and Mary Shelley. Each of these authors wrote works featuring advanced technology and set in the nineteenth or early twentieth century.
Ooooh! I get it now!
Although their books may fit the definition of today’s steampunk it is improper to label them so, since they were, at the time of their publication, set in the present day (with the exception of Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court).
Or not. No, I get it.
The present and growing popularity of steampunk is likely due in large part to comic books and movies, such as the works of animator Hayao Miyazaki or Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s two League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series. Moore’s concept and writing made the series popular, but reviews attaching the term “steampunk” to it became many people’s first exposure to the term.
Okay, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen flips on the light bulb for me.
In general, the category includes any pre-electricity science fiction work with an emphasis on steam- or spring-propelled gadgets. This also includes many alternate history stories in the genre. The most common historical steampunk settings are the Victorian and Edwardian eras, though some in this “Victorian steampunk” category can go as early as the Industrial Revolution. Some examples of this type include the comic book series League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Girl Genius, the novel The Difference Engine, the roleplaying game Space: 1889, and the book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. The next most common setting is “Western steampunk”, being a science fictionalized American Western, as seen in the television shows The Wild Wild West and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and films Wild Wild West and Back to the Future Part III. See Science fiction Western for a list of fiction combining these two genres. There are also “Medieval steampunk” stories set in the Middle Ages, in which steam and industrial technology is developed in the Medieval era. The suspiciously sophisticated ancient traps of the Indiana Jones films and earlier works that inspired them are examples of historical steampunk elements within mainstream fiction, as is the Marchand the Toymaker subplot of the Hellraiser horror movie franchise.
AHA! I get it now. There’s actually different types and such, so you should read the wikipedia page if you’re interested, but I think I’ve got a basic idea of what it is now.
Now, just for grins, I’ll take the list of example movies it gives and bold the ones I’ve seen, just to see how often I’ve seen this and not known what it was. *g*:
Note: most of the films listed are steampunk-related either through narrative or by thematic context.
A Trip to the Moon (1902)
The Impossible Voyage (1904)
Conquest of the Pole (1912)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1933 – as Island of Lost Souls, 1977, 1996)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
King Solomon’s Mines (1937, 1950, 1985)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958)
From the Earth to the Moon (1958)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
The Time Machine (1960, 2002)
Mysterious Island (1961)
Master of the World (1961)
Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962)
First Men in the Moon (1964)
The City Under the Sea (War Gods of the Deep) (1965)
Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (1969)
The Asphyx (1972)
The Adventures of Mark Twain (1982 claymation)
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
Castle in the Sky (1986 anime)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)
The Quick and the Dead (1995) (OMG, this movie was STUPID)
The City of Lost Children (1995)
Wild Wild West (1998)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) (2001)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Steamboy (2004 anime)
Van Helsing (2004)
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle (2005 anime)
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005 short film)