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What Is Steampunk?

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What is steampunk?

Steampunk is a science fiction or fantasy subgenre that incorporates 19th-century industrial technology, often steam-powered. Initially, “steampunk was used to describe a literary genre, but it has since expanded to include fashion, art, and even lifestyle.

Two steampunk characters sitting on a pile of books with a very large clock face in the background.

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To some, steampunk is a nostalgic celebration of a bygone era when technology was still in its infancy and the world was full of possibilities. Steampunk is a chance to romanticize the past while imagining a future that might have been with airships and clockwork automatons.

A steampunk airship sailing over an industrialised city at twilight.
Steampunk motorcycle at the Thames Steampunk Festival in New Zealand. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Others see steampunk as a rebellion against the mass-produced, soulless products of modern technology. They see steampunk as a way to connect with the past and appreciate handmade goods’ craftsmanship and individuality.

A steampunk typer. from behind.

For some, steampunk is a (wannabe) way of life. They dress in elaborate Victorian-inspired outfits, attend conventions, and immerse themselves in the steampunk lifestyle. They see it as a way to escape the mundanity of modern life and embrace a more adventurous, imaginative existence.

A young steampunk clad couple.

Regardless of how one sees steampunk, it’s clear that it has become a significant cultural phenomenon. It’s a way to explore the past, imagine the future, and celebrate the human imagination. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just curious, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of this fascinating subculture.

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