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Origins of the movement steampunk

A retrospective in this section we look at the origins of the movement Steampunk and its influences. We hope enjoy the trip.

The origins of the Steampunk movement

Although many other works published between 1960 and 1970 can be seen nowadays fundamental within this genus, the term steampunk originated in 1980 as an irony to the cyberpunk genre. It can be considered that this term was coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, that was trying to find a term unified works of Tim Powers (The gates of Anubis, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and his same (MORLOCK Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987), all of them focused on a scenario set in the 19TH century and imitating found Victorian speculative fiction, in the time machine (1895) of H. G. Wells. In a letter to the magazine of science fiction Locus, Jeter wrote:

«Dear Locus.
I enclose a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I will appreciate reach you Faren Miller, as first evidence about the interesting debate about who within the “triumvirate of the fantasy formed by Powers / Blaylock / Jeter” wrote first in this “strange historical style”. Although, of course, I found its very flattering review in the March Locus.
Personally, I think that those fantasies Victorian will be the following “bombshell”, If we can find a proper term encompassing us Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate era technology, as “steampunk“, Perhaps…»

The motion characteristics

The steampunk is a literary subgenre, usually middle, and powered by the current futuristic, focused on the second half of the 19TH century, in Victorian times and Edwardian, time that the Industrial Revolution is in full swing.

Casa-Aerea-rotante-Albert-Robida-Tienda-steampunk-MetroSubgenus usually resorts to realities so-called in that civilization has taken a scientific road different from the current, replacing electronics, modern fuels and other scientific advances by steam technology (steam in English) and the combustion of coal. As an example and as presents the novel The difference engine of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, It raises the possibility of having advanced to today's age of computers by adding machines similar to the of Charles Babbage (with wheels toothed and cards punched) instead of vacuum and later the transistor valve. The steampunk, Therefore, It is situated at a point where society has embraced a more consumerist way thanks to positivism in pursuit of science and technology, where these, granted the people who dwell in this different world, a comfortable life and exciting but not to the dystopian control or decay of other trends in science fiction as cyberpunk or, sometimes, the dieselpunk.

The world to imagine the steampunk, how you can discover, It is a world that seems anchored in the stories of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, parents of modern science fiction, but far from reality, so scientifically advanced, in their strange and twisted form of iron, coal and steam, as our. The steampunk It should also his inspiration in novels of adventure and romantic science, as the of Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and Mary Shelley.

The steampunk original, Since today this sub-genre has become a plastic and malleable movement, is more positivist facing the technology; showing this almost of way romantic, where their stories are clearly utopian and optimistic, where problems of that time (overpopulation, racism, poverty and unemployment) they coexist with the strangest inventions powered by coal and steam.

Influences of the Steampunk original

The influence which feeds to current steampunk is, mainly, in the primitive sci-fi found in works created during the 19TH century, as well as the most characteristic elements of society and culture present in this particular historical period, with a special emphasis on the British culture of the times, Victorian and Edwardian.

Works as Frankenstein (1818) o The last man (1826) the romantic writer Mary Shelley they not only created precedents for modern science fiction, But today still being inspiration for these and for the novel steampunk moving in directions more dark and Gothic.

Moving forward in time, subgenus baby of early science fiction stories as A Yankee in the Court of the King Arthur (1889) of Mark Twain or those stories featuring Professor Challenger and written by Arthur Conan Doyle, being The lost world (1912) one of the most well known by the public.

Despite being an almost unknown author for readers, the short stories of Edward Page Mitchell, they have been shown to be also a great inspiration for the steampunk and for science fiction in general, pointing to examples such as The Crystal Man (1881), The Clock that Went Backward (1881), The Tachypomp (1874) and The Ablest Man in the World (1879) where can we find topics such as invisibility, the time travel, the Robotics and the teletrasporte.

El-Nautilus-de-Verne-Metro-Tienda-steampunkBut no doubt, If you try to find a influence clara within this subgenus, his most direct inspiration baby of two authors in particular, Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, considered the true fathers of modern science fiction and forerunners of the genre. Just mentioning, a way of example, some novels of these authors who have greatly encouraged the steampunk, on the part of Jules Verne We could highlight Twenty thousand leagues under the sea (1869), From the Earth to the Moon (1865) o Paris in the Twentieth century (first published in 1994) all them visionary and advanced to its time and of a character more utopian and pleasant toward the technology. In the case of H.G. Wells, which unlike of Jules Verne It tends to be more critical of the technology and the abuse of this, his work can be further enhanced, The time machine (1895).

Not only the steampunk baby of the literary genre, It also makes it the beginnings of the cinematography. This subgenre you should be a lot to Georges Méliès, Pioneer filmmaker where works such as Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902), Le Voyage à travers l ’ Impossible (1904) o A la conquête du Pôle (1910), mentioning just one little list, not only have marked the modern cinema, whether this science fiction or not, but also the aesthetic marked of the steampunk. It also makes it turn, those graphic artists who created their prints illustrating the aforementioned novels and that today not only offer a visual image but also an inspiration to the subgenus, as an example of these artists and painters cabria highlight to Albert Robida for his futuristic illustrations of the time, now mistakenly calls by many futuristic, and by his unknown work also anticipated to its era found in the trilogy formed by Le Vingtième siècle (1883), La Guerre au Vingtième siècle (1887) and Le Vingtième siècle.

We hope that this retrospective may serve to browse about the origin of the movement to all stakeholders that pass through our underground community. We encourage you to continue browsing in our blog steampunk.