Steampunk inspiration and resources

Why Steampunk? Why Now?

Even without the label “steampunk,” the genre has been growing ever since the 1960s. But, “experts” are pointing to the next couple years as the apex; a time when Steampunk will be part of the mainstream rather than a sub- or counter-culture. Which begs the questions, “Why Steampunk?” and “Why now?” IBM has analyzed data from blogs, websites and the like and created the informative graphic at below charting the rise in online chatter.

IBM Steampunk Timeline

 But that is only part of the story. The timeline shows that Steampunk is on the rise, but not why it would appeal to people more now than ever before. This lead me to ask myself what I liked Steampunk and why it resonates with me and so many others, and I think in many ways  it is for the same reason that the early science fiction authors that inspired Steampunk wrote what they did.

Turn the clock back to the turn of the 20th century. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and complex technology was becoming an ever-present force in peoples’ lives for the first time. Ready-made clothing, furnishings and parts were becoming ubiquitous. European nations were jockeying for power in underdeveloped places because of the natural resources like oil that they offered for manufacturing and powering the new tech; war seemed imminent.

Jump ahead a hundred years or so. Spurred by the Information Revolution (aka the internet age), smart phones and computers have replaced conversations and storytelling. People consume media and technology like popcorn, and yet they have lost the ability to make anything for themselves. Clothing is mass-produced, cheap and of low quality, and society has been promoting homogeneity above all else since the 1950s. The US and other developed nations are still fighting over the oil in the Middle East, but now they have nuclear weapons to wave at each other.

Notice any similarities? I think Steampunk is a reaction to technology and its effects on culture now the way that “scientific romances” were attempting to open a dialog with the culture these authors feared (rightly) came hand in hand with industry. This is not to say every author that penned an airship adventure was thinking about deep thoughts or considering politics, but I think this is why the time period resonates with people, especially those of us who were young when the internet became ubiquitous.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

10 responses

  1. Reblogged this on chrispavesic and commented:
    This is an interesting time-line for Steampunk events. Somehow I missed the Prada shoe event!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 1, 2015 at 7:02 pm

  2. I think you’ve got a good point there. They are both times that technology has completely changed everything about daily life within a single generation. It makes sense that a lot of the same emotions would resonate in similar ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 1, 2015 at 9:00 pm

  3. Reblogged this on Cogpunk Steamscribe.


    June 3, 2015 at 2:38 am

  4. I love the info graphic, thanks


    June 3, 2015 at 3:56 am

    • I know, its so awesome! I love infographics in general, but I feel that one is especially good.


      June 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

  5. I love Steampunk because of what it combines: industry with romance, masculine and feminine, the past and the future. It’s somehow a balance. Maybe that’s the link. As technology bounds ahead, some people still want to hold onto the better parts of the past and find a way that everything can coexist. Maybe?


    June 4, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    • I agree, I think nostalgia is definitely a part of it, but also recognizing that the past wasn’t perfect and doing sciency-fictiony things to it in response.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 5, 2015 at 12:08 am

      • Agreed. The most interesting things I learned from the conference I attended was everyone’s ‘reimaginings’ of the past. It was actually very brilliant, and sad.


        June 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      • Why sad?


        June 8, 2015 at 11:44 pm

  6. The ‘what if’ train of thought. If Lincoln hadn’t been assasinated, then civil and women’s rights would have happened sooner, which would have changed other events through history. Way too much for me to remember! It was a whole butterfly effect of how much better life ‘might’ have been if this one person had lived.


    June 10, 2015 at 8:09 pm

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