Steampunk websites

Old Steampunk Websites

Before steampunk got popular around 2006-08, there were only a few websites dedicated to it. Most of them are now gone.

Here is my effort to keep the memory of those — often hand-coded — websites alive.

Steampunk: Victorian Adventures in a Past That Wasn’t

Steampunk Victorian Adventures in a Past That Wasnt website
May 2005 home page of Steampunk: Victorian Adventures in a Past That Wasn’t

Cory Gross’ was one of the earliest steampunk websites and one of the few with serious analysis and commentary about the genre. It contained separate sections for steampunk in Disney, steampunk anime and Gothic horror.

It was also one of the first sites to host a steampunk community, on Yahoo! Groups.

The site shut down in the second half of 2006. You can browse an archived version in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine from June of that year. Cory now blogs at Voyages Extraordinaires.

Retrostacja

Retrostacja website
March 2018 home page of Retrostacja

Best translated as “Retro Station”, Krzysztof Janicz’ website recently went dark. For many years, it mapped the history of steampunk and hosted the original steampunk comic Piechur.

Krzysztof shut down the English-language version of his site, Steampunkopedia, first in 2007, after he was banned from The Steampunk Forum, and then permanently in 2010, when he felt steampunk had been destroyed by tinkerers and activists.

The Polish version went offline in April 2018. The most recent version in the Wayback Machine is from February.

Steampunk Central

Steampunk Central website
December 2007 home page of Steampunk Central

Sarah O’Donoghue’s website featured steampunk art, essays and original fiction, scientists (real and imagined) and a section about different forms of transportation in steampunk.

Steampunk Central appeared in 2001. Sarah stopped updating it a year later. A version of the website is still online, but most of it is broken. The Wayback Machine has saved a largely functional version from December 2007.

Boilerplate

Boilerplate website
Old Boilerplate home page

Anina and Paul Guinan’s original Boilerplate website did not make clear their robot was fictional and apparently some people thought it might be real!

OK, not “some people”. I. I thought it might be real. I was a kid!

Anina and Paul have since updated their website, Big Red Hair, but they have thankfully preserved the old version of Boilerplate, which is the site steampunks from that period will be familiar with.

Also read our review of their 2009 book.

Gothic Steam Phantastic

Gothic Steam Phantastic website
Home page of Gothic Steam Phantastic

Yaghish’s website has been online since 2003. Originally a repository for his imaginary world of “Daleth”, it expanded to include steampunk articles and reviews. He also created one of the first steampunk message-board communities.

Gothic Steam Phantastic is still online.

Brass Goggles

Brass Goggles website
October 2007 home page of Brass Goggles

From its inception in 2006 to the disappearance of its creator, “Tinkergirl”, in 2008, Brass Goggles was probably the most popular steampunk blog.

Tinkergirl later told me about her motivation for starting Brass Goggles:

I was doing Internet searches for all sorts of related keywords — steampunk, steam punk, Victorian science-fiction, vsf, goggles, Verne, Wells, etc., etc. I found several specialized sites — the ones I remember most are Steampunk Central and The Clockworkers Guild. Unfortunately, with an appetite as deep as I had, the sites I found were very quickly devoured. For a few weeks I tried all sorts of different searches and kept up with The Clockworkers Guild. Most of the specialized sites I found were either dormant, dead or geologically slow to update compared to what I was accustomed to in these days of daily blog posts.

I got annoyed that I couldn’t find a site that would update frequently, with high-quality goodies to ogle and learn about, and useful links to allow me to learn more about the juiciest information. In fact, it annoyed me so much that I decided I’d better do something about it. I was going to make the site that I had desperately wanted to find.

Dedicated to the “lighter side of steampunk,” Brass Goggles‘ popularity coincided with the burgeoning of steampunk as a DIY and fashion movement. Its message-board community, The Steampunk Forum, became hugely popular overnight.

After Tinkergirl stopped blogging, a group of contributors took over, including me. (You can find my posts here.) Things slowed down in subsequent years. The most recent posts are from 2013.

The Steampunk Tribune

The Steampunk Tribune website
November 2013 home page of The Steampunk Tribune

Originally called Voyages of a Steampunk Physician and then The Heliograph, Rafael Fabre blogged at The Steampunk Tribune from 2007 to 2013. He linked generously to other steampunk websites, including our predecessor, The Gatehouse, and paid special attention to steampunk on Second Life.

Rafael stopped blogging in November 2013, in part due to real-life restraints and in part because he felt discouraged by attempts to politicize steampunk. (I took a sabbatical from steampunk myself around that time for the same reason. More about that, and my motivation for relaunching Never Was, here.)

Like Never Was, The Steampunk Tribune recently returned. For the old version of the blog, use the Wayback Machine.

Steamfashion

Steamfashion website
Home page of Steamfashion

Steamfashion was for a few years the most popular steampunk fashion community. Its heydays were 2008-12. Activity wound down in 2013. Maybe that’s when the fashionistas moved on to the next trend?

Steamfashion was also a little too keen on creating “rules” for steampunk costumes that didn’t make it easy for newbies.

The community, hosted by LiveJournal, remains online.

Other blogs

Blogs that are no longer updated, but still online:

Also check out The Steampunk Museum. Not up-to-date, but their blogs section contains some good entries. (I didn’t include those websites here, because they’re still active.)

Our own history

The Gatehouse, as this website was known from 2008 to 2018, was itself one of the earlier steampunk websites. You can read our history here.

9 Replies

  • Everything you’ve written about Retrostacja is a lie, Ottens. I shot down Steampunkopedia in 2007 in reply for banning me from Brass Goggles Forum. In 2010 I shot it down again after infamous Great Steampunk Debate. Your personal bias against me seems to seriously disrupt your understanding of reality 🙂

  • Whoa, those screenshots take me back! Thanks for the neutral coverage 😉 And yes, I’m still doing my thing on Voyages Extraordinaires, which is focused much more on Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances, Adventure and Horror, Victoriana, and Retro-Victorian Sci-Fi, which always were the things that interested me regardless of the label people put to it.

  • Why are you so interested in my motivations? Is it an obsession? I think you need to complete your article and explain why Cory shut down his website after GSD, why Sarah stopped updating hers, why Amanda a.k.a. Tinkergirl stopped blogging, why Yaghish left his own forum etc. I’m sure you’d be eager to analyse our feelings. Don’t you think it’s crucial for the history of steampunk? 🙂

  • I left my own forum because of personal issues (i.e. life happened and I had to work, I was asked to judge in storywriters contests which took a lot of time, and I started writing stories for contests, which took most of my other time, and besides, I noticed writing in English isn’t well for focussing on Dutch grammar).
    I stopped most forum activities elsewhere as well (including non-steampunk ones).
    Besides, Myrias had its issues at the time, and generally fora aren’t that popular anymore since Facebook happened.

    I haven’t turned my back to steampunk, I call myself an old skool steampunk because I don’t like the modern ways with focus on goggles, gears, cosplay and dead ugly sepia stuff, and I hate gasmasks and weapons. Let’s say my steampunk is not coloured sepia. Gosh, my steampunk world hasn’t even invented the cogwheel. I still get great ideas from 19th century history, yet never from the modern steampunk scene. I wrote about that here (in Dutch, sorry): https://schlimazlnik.livejournal.com/438817.html

    I haven’t had any issues with any of the early steampunks (until that bloody ignorant BG came along) and remember that era as a very exciting one, a time I experienced as an explorer venturing into new worlds. I do miss that, especially doing it together with others eager to discover new sources of steampunkishness.

  • So many steampunk sites are gone or no longer updating, but I don’t think the genre is dying out. Not everyone sustains their hobby for decades, and a lot of these sites are more than 10 years old so it’s understandable.

    The only ones left that I read are:

    SteampunkFashionGuide.com – focuses on clothing/cosplay/tutorials as well as events. They have probably the best calendar of steampunk events (globally) because they update it throughout the year and there are a lot of smaller steampunk events that just have a facebook event page rather than a website devoted to their festival. These are the events that never seem to show up on the bigger steampunk websites.

    BrassGoggles.co.uk – the most currently active steampunk forum still in existence (that I know of). It’s a great community of people that discuss everything from props to historical research to film/tv/gaming.

    I would love to see a big updated list of other currently active steampunk sites. And not just tumblr pages/facebook groups reposting the same things over and over without crediting the original source.

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