Steampunk is a fantasy genre about worlds where steam engines and other retro technologies have not disappeared, but have reached the highest development. A huge tin robot walks through the streets of London. In his riveted head is the control compartment, where the mad scientist in pince-nez and tuxedo sits. He pedals, tugs at the levers, trying to steer the car away from the approaching airship with the British Air Force insignia on board. The airship is uncontrollable and is clearly going to ram. He suffered from a discharge from a Tesla emitter installed on a German steam tank, which secretly moved here along the bottom of the English Channel and is about to break through to Buckingham Palace. The Queen is protected by a select platoon of Scottish magicians under the command of Sherlock Holmes, the brave Van Helsing, and The Invisible Man.
All this is steampunk.
Don’t get hot, punks! The first question that may arise here is why, in fact, “punk”? As in the case of cyberpunk, the second part of the name only means that the works of this subgenre of fiction are based on “punk” ideas in their most general sense.
In other words, the word “punk” in such cases does not mean evil hooligans with multi-colored hair and “Anarchy” tattoos on their foreheads, but characters – vivid individualists who oppose the system, traditions, prejudices, and put themselves above any state or public institutions.
The term “steampunk” arose as a parodic opposition to cyberpunk, so early steampunk was created according to the traditional scenarios of its “big brother” with a mechanical transfer of action into reality, where steam technologies rule. Hackers, artificial intelligence, corporations, the state machine – all of this was simply placed in a 19th century environment with a discount on the appropriate technology. The “punk” attitude of the main characters to the surrounding reality was preserved without any significant changes.
“I would be glad if it (the book “The Machine of Differences” – “MF”) were not labeled. I’ve heard talk about some kind of “steampunk”, but I don’t think it will take root.”
The first steampunk works were a manifesto of socio-philosophical pessimism and in this sense were no different from cyberpunk. More often than not, the story unfolded in some not very favorable “alternative” universe (equivalent to Europe or the United States of the 19th century).
The dystopia was decorated with the noir style, expressive and understandable motives of tabloid fiction were added to it (nosy detectives, genius scientists, the Wild West, mysterious ancient races) – and the new genre is ready! Later, more positive elements merged into steampunk – the romantic charm of science, utopianism, the aesthetics of “good old England”. This is how we know him now.
What is Steampunk? The answer is here.