What Is Steampunk?

What is steampunk? Ask 50 people and you’ll get 50 answers.

I'm a far future science fiction writer at heart. So I like to call steampunk “Victorian-inspired” – science fiction using Victorian (and Edwardian) era aesthetics, social mores, and tech (particularly steam-powered technology) – although you could have steampunk fantasy or horror if you wanted to.

So why is the Red Dog Conspiracy steampunk?

  • the series is set in a far future neo-Victorian dystopia – and I’ve tried my best to keep it to hard SF (that is, what could actually happen with our current knowledge of physics)
  • the entire city of Bridges is a steam-powered mechanism (including the Aperture in the wall of the dome)
  • clockwork devices are all over the place, from the enormous dais at the Grand Ball to the clocks on every other lamp post
  • the society has the dress, tech level, issues, and social mores of the Victorian era (good and bad) – particularly as played out in Gilded Age America
  • the city has a whole class of tinkerers, the Inventors, who are in the highest levels in the social structure
  • travel is by steam locomotive, horse-and-carriage, sail, and zeppelin
  • the taxi-drivers wear goggles! ;)

Once I tell people about my story, I’m often asked: okay, a neo-noir sounds cool. Why write a steampunk one?

(Answer: mainly because I like steampunk. And when I got the idea for it, I had never heard of that combination before. But as it turns out there are several out there! I may do some reviews later.)

Any other questions?

If you want to see what Wikipedia says about steampunk, you’re welcome to look here.

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