I know I 'defined' the steampunk genre in my last post, but like so many of the speculative genres it can be very broad, and it is very new and unfamiliar to most people, so I thought I would take the time to expand on it a bit.
Personally, I have fallen in love with the steampunk genre and its quirks, styles, and attitude. Once I learned the definition of the term and began looking into books and movies that fell into that category, I realized that steampunk is more than just Victorian-era science fiction. It is, essentially, a style all its own that can be used in Victorian sci-fi type settings (e.g. The Young Sherlock Holmes, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), but that can also be carried over into alternate history, or even entire worlds all its own.
No matter what path you take, there are countless possibilities with steampunk.
Take the historical route, and you have all the trial-and-error inventions, cultural quirks, world-changing conflicts, and political issues to work with. Science was really beginning to 'take off' during that time. Archaeology was becoming a very popular topic of interest. Steam-powered machinery was revolutionizing the industrial world (as well as contributing to the term 'steampunk' itself). Social, religious, and personal conflict erupted in the wake of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. The medical field saw significant advances--sometimes in the wrong direction, but advances nonetheless. Inventors all over the world were racing to create the next revolutionary device. I don't think I really have to say it: there is a lot there for a writer to work with.
Of course, with steampunk you also have the option of building a whole world all its own. One might ask: 'If steampunk is based on our world's Victorian era with a sci-fi twist, how can it be set in its own world?' Really, to pull it off you just have to familiarize yourself with the steampunk style, the kind of technology that fits with the genre, etc., and build your world based on that.The best example I have seen of this so far is Riese: Kingdom Falling, a web series produced and hosted by Syfy.com. Although, I am currently part of a multi-author team that is working on a steampunk/alternate universe production, which we hope to be officially announcing soon. Stick around for more on that at a later date!
What are your thoughts on the steampunk genre? As I mentioned in the last post, I believe it has the potential to be the next big trend in speculative fiction. What do you think?