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What is Steampunk?

"Steampunk" refers to a "retro futurist" type of fiction, or science fiction from a 19th-century point of view. The distinguishing character of such stories are advanced technological inventions made with the technology actually available in the late 19th century (e.g. steam-powered flying machines, computational devices, electrical marvels, &c.). The originators of the genre were 19th-century writers such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, but it was revived in the late 20th century. The term itself is a merging of "cyberpunk", another subgenre of science fiction, with the predominant power source of the Victorian era. Those who dislike the term often use "gaslamp fantasy" in its stead.

It is from this viewpoint that Caledonians derive their love of safety goggles, dirigibles, steam-powered elephants and Tesla towers. If you see a great exhaust of steam or an electrical explosion, you are witnessing a chapter in Caledon's steampunk story. Caledon is not the post-apocalyptic steampunk city so admired by the extremist steampunk fanatics. In fact, Caledon is the ideal blend of the best of Victorian England. It is gentleman and gentlewoman inventors (who dress for dinner or when appearing in public) with steam engines, Tesla devices, motor cars, airships, and the like. And it is Victorian finery – from the finest frocks for ladies, to superb plateware emblazed with emblems of the time.

Those desiring exhaustive detail on the origin and development of the genre may consult the Wikipedia article [1].

Steampunk places in Second Life

The entire state of Caledon is described on its welcome signs as "19th century Victorian steampunk". Sims and builds particularly illustrative of steampunk include:

  • New Babbage - the entire estate is built around an urban steampunk theme.
  • Solarya - describes itself with a great long string of adjectives, among which are "mad science", "re-imagined 19th Century royal colonial sensibilities" and "Gothic/Romantic fantasy/steampunk". The square is dominated by three large chimneys and the northern sim has a string of floating islands in the sky.
  • Steeltopia - an estate with 19th century steampunk theme.

RL Steampunk

There are many creative people who strive to make their 21st-century world more like a gaslamp fantasy. For example

  • Steampunk Workshop [2]
  • Datamancer [3]
  • Jake of all Trades [4]
  • The Steampunk Home [5]

These sites show how artists modify their modern environment to resemble what would have been made in 1890 rather than 2000.

Steampunk Stories of Interest to Caledonians

  • An illustrated story of the gaslamp fantasy sub-genre, popular with many in Caledon, is the Girl Genius series, a combination of "adventure, romance, Mad Science!" seasoned with drama and slapstick humour, set in a steampunk fantasy alternate Europe. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Emperor Krosp I, Europa Wulfenbach and the Jägermonsters are all from the series and used/played in-world with permission of the creators, Phil and Kaja Foglio.
  • Boilerplate is the story of the world's first mechanical, steam-powered "man". The graphic novel "The Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate" is an innovative blend of photography and comic art. [6]
  • Katsuhiro Ôtomo's film Steamboy is a steampunk dream, with a flying steam-powered city worthy of Caledon. [7]
  • The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello is an animated film with a dark steampunk theme. [8]
  • Hiyao Miyazaki has produced a number of fine films with strong steampunk influences, notably Laputa (Castle in the Sky) [9], Howl's Moving Castle [10] and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds [11].
  • The Golden Compass is a fantasy film with elements of steampunk. [12]

Other Steampunk Resources

  • The "Brass Goggles" blog collects links of interest to steampunk fans. [13]
  • "Steampunk Magazine" is an online publication of current steampunk fiction. The site also has a news blog and a discussion forum. [14]