During the course of the weekend, someone asked, "What is Steampunk?" Without going into nauseating detail, Steampunk is the application of advanced steam age technology to a modern or science fiction setting. It's also been referred to as "when Goths discovered the color Brown."
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the late 1980's and early 1990's. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used, typically the Victorian Era and the Edwardian Era, that incorporates prominent elements of science fiction and fantasy. A modicum of fantasy is necessary because steam alone simply will not do enough to fulfill the visions of most authors and artists.
The culture of Steampunk originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates a
mixture of elements from science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative
fiction. It involves a setting where steam is the power of the day—whether in an alternative
universe or actual Victorian times. There have also been elements used in an alternate U.S. Wild West, or in post-apocalyptic times playing on this punk Victorian theme.
Today, artists feature technology involving clockwork, or futuristic innovations as Victorians
might have imagined them. For instance, this technology includes such fictional machines as
those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk, from which it is derived. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed into a separable movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian. Steampunk is described as "full of wonder" and as "functional, logical, and very British." Steampunk stories are often romantic and peppered with historical references and brewing rebellions.