A friend asked me, “Why Steampunk? Why the Victorian Era?”
A good question. Here’s why.
Before university, I was only vaguely aware if the Steampunk movement. It was collection of technologies and fashion that was just sort of emerging in popular culture. I saw bits of it in movies and television shows, but I didn’t think there was an actual name for the aesthetic.
Flashback to Halloween during my first year of university. I chose to re-use one of my old costumes—something called the Dark Princess, which I got because it was sexy while leaving some things to the imagination and had a circus thing going for it. My friend, Roya, had dressed up in an epic ensemble dominated by what she called her “Mage Coat,” a garment worthy of any self-respecting magic user. As we wandered the campus halls, we were found by a woman who looked as if she had just been caught in a small steam-engine explosion. Made up in soot, goggles, and Victorian working clothes, she swooped in and addressed us as Steampunks.
I had no idea what she—Katie, her name was, and we’ve been friends since this—was talking about, but we went along. It was through her that I found out about the Edmonton Steampunk Group. I was encouraged to attend one of their monthly events—Brass ‘n Brew—where I met an assortment of amazingly creative people.
And it all sort of went from there. I was introduced to this whole new world of fashion, film, and, most importantly, literature. I just ended up absorbing Steampunk as a genre. I loved the aesthetics and technology. I loved the time period (more on that in a moment) and what the movement did with it. I loved the plucky heroines and the dashing gents.
But most of all, I loved the versatility. Its fantasy and science fiction all in one, with some historical fiction thrown in for good measure. You can be as close to history as you want, to take several liberties. You can focus solely on technology, or include fantastic beings like faeries or goblins. The occult has a perfect spot in Victorian culture, and there are many tales of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and ghouls. Steampunk was a playground. I could do whatever I wanted with it and it left my creative mind teeming with possibilities.
So, why the Victorian Era? Well, that’s the time period for Steampunk. You go in different directions, and you get things like Clockpunk or Dieselpunk or Cyberpunk, which are different genres all together. Sticking to the era seemed best.
Granted, I did choose the tail end of the era, starting in 1886, because I do eventually desire to write a story involving Jack the Ripper.
As for the setting, I do realize that London is the most common backdrop for Steampunk stories, with America being a close second. Knowing that Victoria ruled an Empire, I wanted to see where I could go further. I didn’t just want to allude to things happening in other parts of the Victorian world, but show them.
I also have plans to implement a Steampunk world of my own, but that’s far off for now.
So, why Steampunk?
Because I’ve never felt like my writing has had so many possibilities before.