I have to admit right up front that I’m not a Steampunk purest. I don’t have a good enough head for science and machines to really be a Steampunk purest. I’m a Steampunk poser. There. I admitted it.
The thing is, I love Steampunk. The first time I saw it it was like I found myself. I went through a real Goth stage in my early twenties, but as I got older I had a hard time with its morose-ness. I like melancholy, but I don’t like emo that much, and I don’t like the nihilistic-ness of cyber punk. Goth doesn’t age well. There is nothing graceful about it. In reality, I liked wearing black clothes, enjoyed “elvish” sadness of the world, and the hints of Victorian clothing that snuck into the gothic look. Also, I liked vampires…but that’s a whole other story.
As I grew out of Goth, Steampunk came on the scene. It had the Victorian flare that I liked, but instead of the depression and rebellion, and, honestly, selfishness of the Goth vibe, it had adventure, exploration, and….goggles. It has goggles.
Once I started getting into Steampunk I started to see different elements of it in movies and books, even going back into childhood stories. (Think Johnny Depp’s Sleepy Hollow. So Steampunk.) Annie Oakley and Amelia Earhart were both childhood heroes and they both work with the Steampunk vibe. I guess you could say I’m a Steampunk fashion lover. But, I also love the spirit of Steampunk. It captures the sense of adventure of Jules Vern all the way up to WW2. The world is a wide open space filled with things never seen before by man or woman. Adventure! I even love the more edgy Steampunk anarchy stuff. The world has fallen and mercenaries hunt down monsters in the dark with flashlights and unusual guns, all dressed in a strange mix of western, Native American, trash, and a bit of oriental flare. It’s very western. It captures that magical time when the world wasn’t all explored and exotic races started mixing with good, old-fashioned, English blood. Or English blood mixed with the exotic, ancient races. Either way, things were newer, fresher. Times were exciting.
Different is intriguing. It’s fun to think of using steam power instead of electricity. It’s fun to imagine the skies filled with zeppelins instead of airplanes. It’s fun to imagine dressing up in long skirts, top hats, gloves, boots that button up the side, and a monocle. All these exaggerated, imaginary things make us look at our own world through fresh lenses. It soaks into our ordinary lives and helps us face the day with an adventurous spirit, imagining everyone around us on a quest. It gives us hope that monsters can be defeated by men and women in leather bracers, boots, and blunderbusses.
As you can tell, I find Steampunk inspiring ascetically.
It turns up in my stories all the time. So many characters with goggles, cool guns, bikes, and even some automatons. When I look for characters I end up posting people in top hats, newsies and driving caps, gold engraved rifles, cool tattoos, gas masks. I love that you can go from dystopian to futuristic. I love hot air balloons. I love the WW2 feel and the Victorian feel that you can mix and match.
For all of the above reasons, when I’m working on a setting for any of my stories, I tend to go Steampunk over medieval. I find historically accurate stories to be constricting. I love to read them, but I don’t like to write them. I want a little room to make things up. (And in my family, we don’t make history up.) Even my urban Fantasies tend to have the magical creatures dressing more Steampunk, or being very Steampunk in their TrueSelf forms.
I hope to blend this in a bit more with my Children’s Faerie Stories. I don’t think it’s coming out as strongly in them as it does in my YA books. They tend to have a bit more of the English garden fairy, or other-worldly fae-faeries about them.
Over the years, I plan to keep learning about the mechanics behind automatons and old revolvers. I want my descriptions, and the ‘physics’ of the world to be more realistic and logical, instead of just sorta made up. J I know most Purist will see my knowledge as very surface level, but I hope you, dear readers, enjoy my Steampunk flavor as much as I do.
Do you like Steampunk? Are you familiar with its look? What’s your favorite Steampunk story?