From now on, for my steampunk posts, I will be teaching those who are interested about the genre of steampunk, what it is, how and where it appears in our culture, where it came from, etc. This post is the first in a series about the origins and history of steampunk. I don’t claim to be an expert, although I hope this blog will make me one with all the research I do. That said, I openly welcome any debate over facts or opinions.
The genre we now call “steampunk” existed long before the actual term was coined. There have been numerous authors through time that have written science fiction with a Victorian mindset. These authors include Mary Shelley, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many more. The most predominant of these authors, however, would have to be Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Their famous works like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Time Machine are what inspire many modern steampunk enthusiasts, even if they may not realize it. Ever wonder why there so many squids and octopuses that appear in various artisans’ work? This is because of the influence that the novel, and the 1954 film, had on early creators of “steampunk”.
Other than the popular film adaptions of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and The Time Machine (1960), other films were creating this old world science fiction. The 1927 film Metropolis was a German science fiction film that was set in an urban dystopia. Full of industrial cities and robots, this movie was one of the early inspirations of the “steampunk” genre. So popular, in fact, that it has been repeatedly reconstructed and restored since the 1970s.
So we know there are lots of books and movies that illustrated the steampunk genre before it existed, but what about television? Where they part of this early movement? Well anyone involved in the steampunk community has heard of the Will Smith movie Wild, Wild West. But how many of you know that it was based off of a CBS television series? Airing from 1965-1969, this television show was a steampunk western. Secret Service agents, working for the government in the “wild west” carried various gadgets and gizmos with them, just as Will Smith and Kevin Kline did in the 1999 film. So before the term “steampunk”, the genre had existed all over popular media.
Care to learn more? Ask questions in the comments! Or click on the pictures learn more on that topic.