Soliciting opinions on steampunk from across the globe

Okay, so here's the deal. Here in Toronto there's going to be a Steampunk Art and Technology exhibit put on at the Ontario Science Center. As a tie-in to this, the organizers are looking to hear from people around the world about their opinions on steampunk. If any of you want to participate, please fill out the questions below:

1) Name (or pseudonym) and Country
2) What first drew you to steampunk?
3) How is steampunk a part of your life?
4) How would you define "steampunk"?
5) Why does steampunk appeal to you?
6) What, to you, is NOT steampunk?

Thanks so much for your input!


  • 1) Name (or pseudonym) and Country - James, Great Britain.
    2) What first drew you to steampunk? - The connection to things I allready enjoyed; science fiction, the victorian period and litriature like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells
    3) How is steampunk a part of your life? - I'm a member of a forum which discusses it, I moderat there. I also read associated novels, such as Toby Frost's work, and also I'm begining to get more involved with my local Steampunk club, also working on a steampunk craft project.
    4) How would you define "steampunk"? - Contemporary realisations of victorian science fiction, with modern themes or styles.
    5) Why does steampunk appeal to you? - The aesthetic pleases me, I like the technology too. It also often is set in an age of adventure and optimism of a like-victorian era.
    6) What, to you, is NOT steampunk? Lolita, the chapist movement, things which incorporate technologies not associated as a fundemental element, such as the internal combustion engine or clockwork, as these take it away from steam.
  • edited February 2011
    1) Name (or pseudonym) and Country
    Michel, Canada
    2) What first drew you to steampunk?
    Source one: I'm a sci-fi geek since birth and fell in love with history in High School.
    Source two: I saw ''Wild Wild West'' and it intrigued me.
    Source Three: I stumble on the word Steampunk while searching the definition of ''Uchronie'' (the french word for alternative history).
    3) How is steampunk a part of your life?
    In a nutshell, major ''i born in the wrong time'' syndrome. I'm a very easily bored guy and i'm prone to escapist. My whole mental health stood on my daydream and it began my pride. Sound creepy but i'm just a excentric dreamer, don't worry.
    4) How would you define "steampunk"?
    Sci-fi in the past or in a futur|advanced alien world who look like the past.
    5) Why does steampunk appeal to you?
    The simplicity of the past with the comfort of the present. Also,the more fantasist scenarios appeal to my adventurous side
    6) What, to you, is NOT steampunk?
    the 21th century.
  • edited February 2011
    1) Name (or pseudonym) and Country

    Jack from The Netherlands

    2) What first drew you to steampunk?

    Art (most notably paintings, literature, and architecture) and technology from the nineteenth centrury, which I gave my own twist. Later I discovered it could be called Steampunk.

    3) How is steampunk a part of your life?

    It's hard to say. I enjoy the "what if?" part of it, and make stories out of that. What if there had been a [fill in modern device] in the nineteenth century, how would it work and look like, how would it change society? If it had to be real, how would they have gotten the same effect, with the old technology? How would my granddad construct it?
    I enjoy reading it and watch the odd design, therefor I have a steampunk network.
    I come often to the steampunkparts of Second Life.
    I've always lived in towns that had their best days in the nineteenth century, I can imagine how they turn steampunk, as augmented virtual reality.

    4) How would you define "steampunk"?

    Cyberpunk in a nineteenth century setting. As where cyberpunk is about people who use technology different than what it is made for (hacking it), and use it to change society (life hack), usually trying to break the power of the upper- and ruling classes, or at least upgrading one's own position and quality of life.

    5) Why does steampunk appeal to you?

    There are a lot of possibilities in the combination of technology, punksociety, the real nineteenth century, and fiction. It's never ready or finished. Plus of course the aesthetics of it, but that can be labeled Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) or Romantic, or Neo-Gothic, or Baroque (and a few other names for old art) as well.

    6) What, to you, is NOT steampunk?

    * Anything that does not involve hacked technology, nor the social punkcontext.
    * Anything that is Victoriania is not steampunk.
    * Dressing modern things and contemporary people up in Victorian style is not steampunk.
    * Painting a Nerfgun in copper colours and call it a ray-gun is not steampunk. Unless it's a decoy made to distract from the Chinese cavalry, which is closing in with their steampowered and armed kite-driven airships to lay some bombs over the enemies capital.
    * Have your PC modded with brass and gears is not steampunk. Building Babbage's engine and have it covered in pretty bakelite and chrome is.
    * Dressing up in sepia garments, ornamented with gears and other brass elements, is not steampunk. Having your own mauveine coloured garments might be, however. Or patterns in the cloth that are based on algorithms.
    * Wearing goggles is not steampunk, it simply is not, I'd call it either silly or taken from the rivet head industrial music subculture.
    * Women showing their underwear in public is not steampunk, neither is burlesque, unless these women are actually robots, built to entertain the upper classes, then kill them (especially when they are in the slave-trade).
    * Getting drunk on absinth is not steampunk, using absinth as fuel for your brass robot is, especially if that robot is to fight in the Opium Robot Wars.
    * Traveling on a steamtrain is not steampunk, unless you've modified the engine and use it to fight the terror of the upper classes, as in, get as close to the enemy, then blow the whole thing up.
    * Any book written before 1990 is not steampunk.
    However, any of these things can help to inspire steampunk. Apart from the goggles, that is.
  • 1) Name (or pseudonym) and Country: Wil (thewilbur) U.S.A.
    2) What first drew you to Steampunk? I heard the use of the term and decided to investigate.
    3) How is Steampunk a part of your life? It has become another enriching source for my art and design subjects.
    4) How would you define "Steampunk"? An imaginary world based on Victorian/Edwardian style and technology extended directly into the present, and into the future.
    5) Why does Steampunk appeal to you? Steampunk is a rich source of creative expression. It provides guidelines the same way twelve-bar is a guideline for blues.
    6) What, to you, is NOT Steampunk? Disrespectful simplistic mimicry.
  • I'm going to send to you personally to avoid a flamewar over point 6 ;)
  • Okay, thanks Hilde. I know that the people running the show appreciate everyone's input!
  • I've mailed you now, sorry for the delay!
  • 1. Ella Kremper, UK

    2. The imaginary vistas, the stories, the visualisations of such stories, and I guess I just stumbled on it from looking for inspiration for my own storywriting tinkering.

    3. It's not a big part of my life, to tell you the truth. It's an interest, it's an enjoyment, I appreciate it, sometimes I'll have a story idea with steampunk tropes, but on a day to day basis it's not really at the forefront of my mind. I guess I make it sound very small but I consider it to be one of my major interests, but in my life, it doesn't pop up that much.

    4. Modern technology done using 19th Century techniques, with the addition perhaps of some fictional substance (e.g. aether, phlogiston, hell, even the occult), mixed with derring-do against some plotline where said technology is featured rather heavily. The general timeline and geography would appear to be Victorian, but is not necessarily set in continuum with our own timeline.

    5. Source of inspiration for lots of things. As I'm more into the dystopian and horror aspects of life, I feel steampunk can fit well into those situations.

    6. This is going to be long-ish...

    - Dressing Victorian
    - Neo-Victorianism
    - Goth
    - Being nice to people, manners (I'm a cold-hearted bitch, get over it, plus, it's not a steampunk trait)
    - Being a dick about how much more steampunk you are than someone else (because you're actually just a dick)
    - Sticking two cogs on to something and labelling it steampunk (Three cogs? Hrm, don't push it)
    - the Burlesque movement
    - BDSM with Victorian influences
    - Corsets
    - The 'lifestyle' - I'm a firm believer in that you can have influences toward how you live your life, but not an X lifestyle (apart from me, I have the Kremperpunk lifestyle ;))
    - Wearing goggles - I'm a scientist, I wear goggles. Woo-bloody-hoo. What I mean by this is that planting goggles on your face does not make it steampunk. Not to say, there are awesome goggles out there but on their own, it doesn't cut it with me. Sorry.

    - this may have been written whilst I was in a bad mood. Apologies :)
  • First thing, commendations to Yaghish, for a splendid post that I did so thoroughly enjoy. You have a talent, my friend. If I find a "Steampunk's Guide to the Galaxy" on the shelf, I hope you're one of the authors!

    1) Captain Sohm, U.S.A.

    2) Long time interest in sci-fi but I was always most interested in the weapons and ships that showed wear/tear and looked home built. I finally narrowed down more what I loved in the genre before I stumbled upon Steampunk and it was love at first sight. As Kremper mentioned, the vistas one can imagine in a steampunk world are amazing and are always ready to surprise.

    3) I like incorporating some steampunk fashion in small ways all the time. Especially when formal. I always have liked tinkering, so that's not something new there.

    4) Steampunk is just the best that could have been, but ne'er was, in my mind. What would happen if the novelties of the 1910 World Aviation Cup and similiar aspirations were set loose upon the world without the need to copyright the whole darn thing. When beauty takes as much consideration as function and pride is bestowed on every creation by its creator.

    5) Not sure how to answer this. I guess I've always had a bit of steampunk in me, but only in the past few years did I know of the term that roughly defines it. The style, the art, I love it all. I especially enjoy the positive camaraderie of folks who take pride in their own machines and machinations. The great pride that we claim to be ours for being off-label and making more beautiful things than corporations could bring themselves to comprehend.

    6) ...well, I'm not sure I could improve on Kremper's list. I am very hard pressed to say what (physically) commands a labeling as steampunk or not. To me, steampunk is a metal state or rather, a way of thinking. If you slap a simple outfit together, well, congratulations but that's only one small part of the puzzle. When you put it on, does it make your imagination run amok? Do you suddenly smell grease and canvas? Well, I can't give any definitive answer, but if all the distance you can go is the cloth, then it's not steampunk. It's not the what, it's the WHY.
  • My humble contribution

    1) Name (or pseudonym) and Country
    Johan, Sweden

    2) What first drew you to steampunk?
    A dutch guy bugging me about it :P But more seriously I have always had a penchant for the possibilities of an alternate past and various what if scenarios, coupled with a love for science fiction. In many ways it was the aesthetic of the genre as well.

    3) How is steampunk a part of your life?
    I read some. I write a little. But to be honest, steampunk for me is more of a series of storytelling and worldbuilding tropes rather than a lifestyle.

    4) How would you define "steampunk"?
    Science fiction and/or alternate history set in a world with 19'th century aesthetic.

    5) Why does steampunk appeal to you?
    As I said earlier, the possibilities of recreating a past that never was. The wonderful visual aesthetic. The creative freedom in worldbuilding

    6) What, to you, is NOT steampunk?
    The works of Jules Verne and other authors whose work constitutes science fiction, not steampunk,. While these works may serve as an inspiration, they are not by themselves steampunk. Things with a clear 20'th century aesthetic.
  • Ms. Kremper, I'm sorry you don't like corsets (yes HildeKitten... it starts). I love mine. It took me years to get it to fit so I associate it with a real sense of accomplishment. I have matching boots too!
  • thewilbur wrote:
    Ms. Kremper, I'm sorry you don't like corsets (yes HildeKitten... it starts). I love mine. It took me years to get it to fit so I associate it with a real sense of accomplishment. I have matching boots too!
    You misunderstand. I never said I didn't like corsets. I own a couple myself and I love them. However, I said that I don't think they signify something is steampunk on their own.

    For example:

    X: Oh look! A corset!


    Er. No.

    EDIT: Similar to what was said in the 'leather' thread. I believe that corsets are used in steampunk to great effect. However, the corset as an entity is not a steampunk creation.
  • I agree with Ella.
    A garment an sich isn't steampunk, but it can be used as _part_ of a steampunk ensemble just fine. It's the total of the outfit, not just a part of it.
  • I still don't understand why an outfit should be steampunk. It can be in steampunk style, but how you dress has nothing to do with steampunk. Which is proven by all steampunk inspired garments in regular clothing shops: it's not just steampunks who buy it.
  • Every single subculture's esthetic, just like every fashion style, has ended up in the high street at some point or other, and will do so again in the future seeing trends tend to recycle.

    You know Yaghish, you have your opinion and you're entitled to it, others simply don't agree.
    Let's just agree to disagree and move on :)
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