Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Steampunk Genre

Copyright © 2010, Steven E. Houchin

I've seen the term "Steampunk" lately, referring to a form of fiction. It is a sub-genre of science fiction or fantasy that is generally set in a Victorian time period - the industrial 19th century - where anachronistic technology of the time (such as steam power) is adapted in ways more common to our modern time, and alternate histories are often presented. Think of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, or the futuristic gadgets used in the TV series Wild, Wild West.

"Steampunk" is derived from the term "cyberpunk", which refers to noir-like technology in a near-future world. The steampunk genre emerged in the 1990's, and has inspired enthusiastic subcultures in art, design, and fashion.

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's 1990 novel The Difference Engine is often credited with bringing widespread awareness of steampunk to readers. Seattle author Cherie Priest's Civil War-era novels Boneshaker and Dreadnought - part of her zombie-infested, alternate-history Clockwork Century series - are other examples of the genre.

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