Texas State Railroad. Steampunk capital of the world. The humble farming town of Oamaru, three hours south of Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, used to be known for its population of blue penguins and having the best-preserved collection of Victorian architecture in the country.
But that was before it became the world’s unlikely capital of steampunk, drawing enthusiasts from around to globe to what was once an economically depressed rural service centre wedged between the Kakanui mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. Earlier this month Oamaru made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest gathering of steampunks in the world. For the uninitiated, the term steampunk was coined in the 1980s and is based on imagining inventions the Victorians might have created for the modern world. Requiem for Steampunk. E. g. goggles like these. Gasworks park seattle. Ottoman project.
No more! but "ottoman steampunk" still brings up six thousand hits, including this one: – graywyvern
Why steampunk will last. I would like to take a moment to define “steampunk.”
This will be an exercise in futility (not to mention sadomasochism) because there is no formal, all-encompassing, final word on the subject, and people are bound to disagree. But for the purposes of what is to follow, I must begin with a definition of this term which I’m going to be flinging around willy-nilly. So here goes. Steampunk: An aesthetic movement based around the science fiction of a future that never happened. The big switchback. Actually I don;t see it as a straight choice between looking back or looking forward.
For me its about tempering the lust for novelty and not assuming that knowledge becomes obsolete in a few years. Not that I'm advocating a reactionary and conservative attitude, quite the reverse, but I do think that real innovation is based on a depth of knowledge of what people have already done, rather than the conceit that novelty is automatically progress. In practical terms I think that we have to be careful of losing skills which have taken centuries to develop just because they aren't fashionable anymore or because they take effort to acquire. For any society to be sustainable it must be capable of generating wealth, which is not by any means the same thins as making money. You can;t have a society where the only industries are banking, insurance and litigation. Steampunk defended. In my opinion, Stross has at least one valid point, one that doesn't go away by just declaring steampunk to be "cool", like Westerfeld did, or stressing the utopian qualities of the 19th century, like Valtat: It is easily forgotten today that the genre's origins, at least when seen in direct relation to cyberpunk, are dystopian, not utopian, in nature.
Vaporpunko. First, introductions via Wikipedia & Vikipedio.
While I have encountered manifestations of what is now called Steampunk, the term--the named genre--is new to me. Back in the 1960s I watched the TV series The Wild Wild West, an obvious precursor or example of the genre. (And, a few days ago, I made it halfway through the ineptly executed film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.) Someone had to name the confluence of science fiction, the historical novel, and alternate history scenarios into a single concept. It's a new focal point for elements that are not so new. I wrote about the increasing profile of self-referential cultural artifacts in a 1993 essay: Cultural Sophistication and Self-Reference on American Television: Seeds of Hope? Owing to the acceleration of social and cultural change, it becomes obvious how drastically basic social assumptions are different now than from decades past, which has long been a device pursued by TV series, most recently the runaway hit Mad Men.
Queering steampunk. UPDATED: Donate now at to get this off the ground!
One of the really wonderful things about Steampunk is that it, more than any other sub-culture, seems to want to teach us things. I have always been very interested in the technology of the 19th Century, it's been a passion since a very young age. this passion is certainly part of what got me interested in Steampunk in the first place. However, as I delved deeper into the history of technology I got really interested in other aspects of how the world changed during the Industrial Revolution.
In particular I became interested in the Women's Movement, which began in the late 19th century, feminism, and gender theory. Chasing down this rabbit hole has lead me to books like Marilyn French's Beyond Power, which is currently blowing my mind and has the feel of one of those books that forever changes to way you view the world. Recently, Libby and I presented a panel at SteamCon II in Seattle we called "Queering Steampunk Fashion. " Cheers! Jake. Steam Garden: Tokyo, Japan steampunk party at Christon Cafe Shinjuku. Japanese cosplay fashion event.
The concept of Steampunk is only beginning to gain recognition in Japan, even though there have been many works that incorporate the aesthetic, such as Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime film Steamboy.
My Tokyo-based friends Kenny Creation and Luke Chaos have been passionate about Steampunk for some time, and last year, they founded the event Steam Garden. (Photo above by Aki Saito) On March 10th, I went to their fourth event, themed “Celtic Fantasy.” Luke and Kenny rented out the entire Christon Café Shinjuku (a theme restaurant filled with European relics), and filled it with tribal fire dancers, cosplay performances, Medieval food, and live music on period instruments.
(Photo by Jab) Each event has a different theme, revolving around a past era. This time, the code word was Celtic Fantasy. Kenny Creation DJ-ed possibly the most original set I’ve ever heard… it was exclusively bagpipe music! … steamcore music and tribal fire dance from Chaos Royale VS Lyon. And Japanese Lolitas. The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles - Index.
The glorious fez thread (2010/2015): see: custom fezler, under islamic ufology pearl--especially: – graywyvern
Everyone will be steampunk. Aliette de Bodard » Blog Archive » Aztec steampunk. So, I’ve recently noticed I started writing Aztec steampunk (“Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood”, up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “Age of Miracles, Age of Wonders” forthcoming in Interzone, and “Prayers of Forges and Furnaces”, which I haven’t sold yet).
I ultimately found her books not to my taste, but i still think "aztec steampunk" has a frisson. – graywyvern
I’ve had several people mentioning how it’s a bit odd to be mixing Aztecs with the steampunk aesthetic, and that set me wondering about where I was coming from when I was writing that kind of stuff.
Insofar as I can express it, it goes like this. Those steampunk stories I’ve read (and I’ll say right here and now that I haven’t read that many of them and don’t consider myself a steampunk expert, not by a large margin) derive a strong appeal as sensaofwunda stories with a retro feel: you have goggles and all sort of tech from dirigibles to odd-shaped machines involving steam and brass; there are explorers and archaelogists, wealthy spinsters and anarchists, mechanical men and proto-computers. I’m not criticising. The Steampunk Empire - The Crossroads of the Aether.
"It does seem that the SP forums have gone quieter mostly since the moderator of SteamPunk Empire abandoned that popular site." (5/17) – graywyvern
A Multicultural Perspective on Steampunk.
I like this website best of all the now-myriad steampunk offshoots. if steampunk survives it will be because it takes a non-eurocentric approach. – graywyvern