August 31, 2018 at 3:16 pm #45607
Hey, guys! I’m considering writing a steampunk something-or-other, and I was wondering if anyone could tell me the aspects, characteristics, stereotypes, etc. of the genre. Also, what time period would it be set in? It seems like it could either be in the distant past or distant future. I’m not sure. Thoughts?
@sarah-inkdragon @sarah-narnathron @claire (You three have mentioned steampunk before…) @lady-iliara @ariella-newheart @millennium-m (You three are definitely familiar with steampunk) @daeus-lamb @wordsmith @kate @anyone-at-all!August 31, 2018 at 4:14 pm #45609Sarah Narnathron@sarah-narnathron
Oooooh. Steampunk is fun. I’ve written two steampunk novellas, plus I love the genre as a whole, so I’m happy to provide some words of wisdom on the topic.
Time period: Normally, steampunk is set in a world or era that resembles the Victorian Era, but with more steam, tech, magic, and corsets worn over dresses. (Side note: corsets were definitely not worn over dresses in the actual Victorian Era, or any other era except our own, no matter what people might want you to think.) However, you can have steampunk set in the future as long as you keep the general ideas and aesthetic.
Characteristics/Stereotypes: Again, it’s the Victorian Era but with more steam, tech, and magic. Think H.G. Wells (so I’m told; haven’t actually read his books) or Dickens but with sci-fi or fantasy elements. Clocks, gears, and airships abound. So do anachronistic gadgets, figures of speech, and concepts, but who cares about that? There’s a definite emphasis on science; the vast majority of steampunk books I’ve read have a hero or major character who’s either a scientist or inventor. (Mad scientists/inventors aren’t uncommon either.) Occasionally you’ll also get a book set in the Wild West, but again, there’ll be more gears, anachronistic or steam-powered weapons, and magic. Mechanical body parts, robots, and partial robots are fairly common as well. Characters will probably travel by hot-air balloon or airship at least once. (Airships probably refer to zeppelins, but occasionally you’ll have actual early airplanes as well.) Politicians are quite possibly corrupt (though that’s true of any books). You may or may not have plucky urchins somewhere around.
A note on magic: A lot of magic in steampunk books tends to be very scientific, even if it’s technically soft magic. That said, you could also write a super cool novel featuring the struggle between new progress/inventions and the Old Magic (fae, elves, brownies, etc.). Chime sort of does this, though it’s not truly steampunk; I’d love to see an actually-steampunk book do it.
A note on themes: A lot of steampunk that I’ve read focuses on the upper or middle class, the nobility and gentry and middle class, the privileged who can afford to spend all their time gallavanting after adventures and inventing magnificent and world-changing devices. If you want to set yourself apart, I suggest broadening the scope a bit. Look at the lower classes; see how they’re affected.
<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Recommendations in the Steampunk Genre:</span>
Books (Victorian Era — for the aesthetic, for character concepts, and for potential themes):
Entwined and Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
The Invisible Library and sequels by Genevieve Cogman
Magician’s Rivalry and sequels by H.L. Burke
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
The Dolls of New Albion (content warning: characters bring spirits back from dead, mostly with bad results. At least one gay character. One suicide. Still an excellent, though tragic, story.)
Blindsprings (webcomic; is unfortunately on hiatus and I don’t know when it’s coming back)
(links might take you to my personal steampunk playlist on YouTube; not 100% certain)
Steampunk Song Collection (lyrics)
Swords for Hire
The Copper War
The Depths Below
Council of Nobles
Hope this helps!
Welcome to the masquerade.September 4, 2018 at 1:45 pm #46326
@sarah-narnathron Thank you so much!! This is really helpful. One more question for you and anyone else willing to help: Are there any cliches of steampunk that I need to know about?
Also, what do you think of the idea of a steampunk retelling of Gone with the Wind? (If you’ve read that . . .)September 4, 2018 at 3:02 pm #46342Sarah Narnathron@sarah-narnathron
@dekreel You’re welcome! Cliches . . . I feel like mad/grumpy scientists show up an awful lot in steampunk? Other than that, though, I can’t think of any steampunk-specific cliches. And I haven’t read Gone With the Wind, but based on what I know of the story, I think that could be quite interesting!
Welcome to the masquerade.September 4, 2018 at 6:49 pm #46382Aislinn Mollisong@aislinn-mollisong
Hey, Pip! Is your story perhaps your roleplay…?
Hero with an overactive imaginationSeptember 4, 2018 at 6:58 pm #46385Anonymous
Yeah Peri, is it?
( @aislinn-mollisong, you’re a Avenser?)September 5, 2018 at 12:12 am #46460September 5, 2018 at 5:24 pm #46581Aislinn Mollisong@aislinn-mollisong
@dekreel GOOD. Easter Eggs are BEST. Especially if they’re Aetherlight ones.
@millenium-m I am indeedy, Emily dearest. I just…haven’t been on since spring. -winces because that sounds really bad-
Hero with an overactive imaginationSeptember 5, 2018 at 6:27 pm #46595May 21, 2020 at 8:31 pm #113204Rusted Knight@rusted-knight
I’ve seen a bit of steampunk. If its old, looks good with gears and you can say reasonably that it has at least one steam engine in it, you’re probably good. But don’t be fooled. The Victorian Era sees the birth of a lot of stuff that is the grandfather of stuff we see now. I suggest you look at tech from the time period and go from there.
The Devil saw me with my head down and got excited. Then I said Amen
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