Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that has emerged in the last few years. Steampunk stories often incorporate steam power as a plot point, but do you know the history behind this fantastical take on 19th century industrial society?
In case you’re not familiar with the term Steampunk, it’s an adjective that describes a piece of literature and/or film that takes place in an alternative nineteenth century Victorian era. Think of classic literary examples like The Great Gatsby or Metropolis, both of which feature technology and design features inspired by the early 20th century. Steampunk is also frequently used as an adverb to describe this type of unusual old-fashioned technology, such as steampunk goggles or steampunk jewellery.
What is Steampunk Literature?
Steampunk literature is defined by its use of the Victorian era as a setting, with an emphasis on technology. In contrast to science fiction and fantasy genres, steampunk usually does not include aliens or fantastical creatures in its narratives.
Steampunk stories often focus on machines that have been reimagined and updated for a contemporary audience. Steampunk is also used to describe the type of technology used in these types of stories, including steam power and elaborate mechanical contraptions.
The History of Steampunk
The word steampunk is a portmanteau of steampowered’. The term was first coined in 1993 by K.W. Jeter in his novel, “The Difference Engine” which was published shortly before the end of that year. Steampunk as an alternative history genre began to take hold in the following years with authors such as Hugh Howey and Scott Westerfeld producing some of the most popular novels within the genre.
Steampunk has been criticised for its tendency to white-wash race and ethnicity, but it has also gained recognition for its strong female characters and undeniable feminist elements.
More recently, steampunk has been seen as an inspiration for cyberpunk aesthetics and technological innovations, creating a blend between these two genres that is more commonly referred to as neo-Victorian science fiction or neo-Victorian fantasy.
How to Write a Steampunk Novel
If you want to create a steampunk novel, then you need to think about how society would develop if there was no industrial revolution. What inventions would remain from that period? Steampunk novels are often set in dystopian societies with advanced technology and a romanticised view of the early 19th century. The most popular form of steampunk fiction is usually science fiction that deals with time-travel or alternate history, but it can also be found in fantasy and paranormal settings.
In order to write a steampunk novel, remember that you have to focus on the mindset of your characters and what they see as their normal way of life. With the invention of steam power in literature, this means an influx of technology and machinery from industrial society that no longer exists. This can be achieved through writing stories where machines still exist but they’re hidden away because humans aren’t ready for them yet. It’s important to also consider how your characters would deal with these machines lived every day without them – after all, they’d be more accustomed to hand-cranked watches than smartphones!
Things Not to Do in a Steampunk Novel
Despite its popularity, steampunk is not without its criticisms; the genre has been accused of being a gentrification of nineteenth century culture and a retro-fetishism.
It can be easy to get lost in the world of steampunk fiction, but it’s important to remember that this sub-genre is meant to tell a story. Many writers use Victorian culture as an influence, but they should also consider how the social context in which the story takes place influences their novel.
A good example of this is Alexandra Duncan’s 2014 historical Steampunk novel The Clockwork Century. In it, she includes reference to anti-immigration sentiments and racist ideas prevalent at the time, despite being set in England during a period where those attitudes were still uncommon.
Tips for Writing a Great Steampunk Novel
So what do you need to make a hit steampunk novel? For starters, you want to explore the past glory of Victorian society and its many forms of technological innovations. In order to be successful with this genre, you also need a unique story that explores the idea of modernized 19th century life.
In terms of writing your novel, there are many ways in which you can get creative with your content. You might want to consider adding some literary elements that establish tension and suspense in your book, such as short chapters or digressions from the main narrative. Or if you’re looking for an easy way to get into this genre, check out some steampunk short stories on Wattpad!
Steampunk is an adjective that describes the type of literature and film that takes place in an alternative 19th century Victorian era. The term is often used as an adverb to describe old-fashioned technology, such as steampunk goggles or steampunk jewellery.
1. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that has emerged in the last few years.
2. Steampunk stories often incorporate steam power as a plot point, but do you know the history behind this fantastical take on 19th century industrial society?
3. In case you’re not familiar with the term Steampunk, it’s an adjective that describes a piece of literature or film that takes place in an alternative nineteenth century Victorian era.
4. Think of classic literary examples like The Great Gatsby or Metropolis, both of which feature technology and design features inspired by the early 20th century.
5. Steampunk is also frequently used as an adverb to describe this type of unusual old-fashioned technology, such as steampunk goggles or steampunk jewelry.