“What is Steampunk?” – a crowdsourced version

Blue-haired Steampunk women.

Some Steampunk cosplay, captured at The Steampunk World’s Fair 2014 by Babs Who Takes Pictures.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had asked me, “What is Steampunk?”, I’d have enough money that I’d be writing this blog from some sort of beach somewhere much, much warmer than New Jersey.  I have plenty of my own thoughts, but I figured I’d try asking The Steampunk World’s Fair Facebook page.  And behold – here are the results!  But, as always, I encourage you to find your own answer to that question, and decide what works for you.

“A punk rocker in a steam room?”
~RW Backus

“Steampunk is the answer to the question “what if?”
What if Tesla had business sense? What if Steam had reined? What if pirates took to the air instead? What if we wore our corsets on the outside?! The answers in expressions from the page to fashion to music and whats for tea are Steampunk!!!”
~Alicia M Downs

“Romanticized Victorian to early 1900s style alt universe focusing on a world that utilizes steam power, leather, glass, and vaguely scifiesque early electrical elements and gas lighting to create a setting of wonder and excitement in a world of what if love and adventure.”
~Travis Roseberry

“According to many it’s anything you stick cogs on or a flux capacitor in. I personally don’t find the inside of my daughters princess watch or the delorean at all steampunk but maybe I have a very narrow view of it and need educating.”
~Alison Burnaby

“Steampunk means to me, referring to the couture and theme:
It’s a combination of genres and history, fiction, victorian, invention, hippie fabrics, ruffles and leather, a few “normal” clothes with added flair and interest Love the whole thing.
Plus the strong female presence portrayed as feminine with added badassery of weaponry and invention history usually places with men.”
~Shannon Feyhl

“Part Victoriana, part unbridled imagination.”
~Dawn Vautier

“Steampunk is a love affair with something sublime, Victoriana at its finest, with a generous helping of vision, bravery and limitless possibilities. Ode to the steam era. The smell of sweet worn leather pulled tightly around my cuffs, or my thighs. The corsets thrusts you back in time….as hard as the corset you wear, the class the sheer beauty. I cannot truly describe what steampunk means to me, but I am so so pleased that what I was obsessed with since being a young girl, had a name. And of course, it lead me to the works of Tesla the great (my hero) the visionary.”
~Deidre Glasgow

“Steampunk began as a sub-genre of alternative history SF. It then added some of the other functions that were often featured at SF conventions, such as costuming. It added music, film, graphic novels, and eventually grew into a full-fledged alternative culture complete with every aspect one could expect. One thing that separates Steampunk culture from other alternative cultures is the emphasis on the maker. People who make things, whether music, literature, art, clothing, jewelry, leather goods, brass objects, etc… make Steampunk more than just a hobby, but a culture in which people can actually lead full lives. Culturally, Steampunk is also a culture of diversity and acceptance. This is just as important as any other aspect and provides a home for those who didn’t belong anywhere more restrictive. That’s only my opinion, but Steampunk makes me feel at home.”
~Lawrence Tagrin

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

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