Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Feature: Where is Steampunk Going?

*Sniff Sniff* It's just about that time to say adieu to Let's Get Steamy. I want to thank all my artists for participating and donating their fantastic creations, as well as my guest posters. I learned a whole lot about Steampunk and I hope that all of my amazing followers did too! That being said, I have one last guest  post. This one's from the folks at (specifically John Leavitt) and they are doing a nice wrap-up post all about where they see the genre heading...Let's check it out :)

Where is Steampunk Going and Where Must it Go

Where Steampunk is going is actually easy to answer. My brass and polished walnut magic 8-ball filled with blue aether-fluid gives a clear answer. Steampunk is still on a trajectory towards the mainstream. While literature remains the core of Steampunk, its influence is spreading to music, film, toys, games, comics, and fashion.

In just the past year, we’ve seen Steampunk music videos from Panic at the Disco , Justin Bieber, and David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj. Musical artists as disparate as T-Pain and Rush are finding inspiration in Steampunk and they in turn will inspire others.

It is being used, not always successfully, as a stylish twist in movies such as Sherlock Holmes and The Three Musketeers. The film Hugo, which contains many Steampunk elements, picked up 5 Oscars just this week and was among the nominees for Best Picture. The elements are becoming familiar enough that Mattel’s introduction of a Steampunk character to their Monster High doll series doesn’t raise an eyebrow with kids. In a few years, children won’t ask what Steampunk is; it will be something that was always there.

One medium that Steampunk has yet to conquer is television. It is a bit ironic, because one of the most cited examples of the aesthetic is the 1965 television show The Wild Wild West, which predated the term Steampunk itself by more than 20 years. Despite the lack of a tv hit that is clearly Steampunk, the influence is there. Shows such as Warehouse 13 and Avatar: The Last Airbender proudly display Steampunk elements. An episode of Castle explored a murder in the world of Steampunk enthusiasts. While these don’t match the groundswell in other areas, they do help familiarize people with the elements which gives future efforts a better chance of taking root.

Going mainstream is all well and good if you just want to attract more people to the aesthetic and bring down the price of goggles, but Steampunk needs to do more. Steampunk needs to spread its wings and find itself. It needs to focus itself a bit, get a job, and move out of its parents’ basement. It needs to grow up.

By this, I do not mean that Steampunk is juvenile. Of course, there is Steampunk that is juvenile, some of it intentionally and some of it not, but I mean something else. Steampunk needs to move beyond the limitations of its Verne and Wells foundation. Steampunk needs to find the world beyond London and the Old West, beyond saucy air pirates and gentleman inventors.

Original Steampunk anthologies have been published in Singapore, Brazil, Malta, Romania, and are in development elsewhere. There are Steampunk fans all over the world. And Steampunk stories should use the whole world as their stage. We need stories that explore 19th century Asia, Africa, and South America. We need stories about people of all colors, about people from all walks of life, about all types of relationships and all types of problems.

Steampunk can tell those stories. And by doing so, it can show the world that Steampunk is more than just a bunch of glued-on gears.

John Leavitt is a long time lover of speculative fiction in all its forms. He runs when not working or chasing his kids.


  1. Love Warehouse 13! I would love a Tesla.

  2. I would love to see Steampunk come to television more. I didn't even realize Avatar: The Last Airbender was steampunk. But that makes sense now that I go back and think about.

    I'm so sad that steampunk month is over! :(

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