What is Steampunk?

What is Steampunk?


Victorian science fiction. Based on the future views of Victorian authors such as Jules Vernes in France, H.G Wells in England and American Edward S. Ellis.  Modern day Victorian Future has been embodied by the steampunk participants around the world creating inventions and gadgets for use in our own time. It has the look and feel of something Victorian, with cogs and pistons made of brass and copper and mounted on leather or wood. The purpose enhancing our current abilities. Costuming is Victorian in look and feel.


Where did it come from, and why here in Oamaru?

Steampunk is “tomorrow as it used to be”, fantasy. The “punk” in steampunk is a rebellion against the present day preference for plastic and the disposable way of life. For many it is a search for where society might have taken the wrong turn at the end of the Victorian era.


The punk era of the late 1970's and early 1980's gave rise to a group of science fiction authors who set their plots in the Victorian world. “Steampunk” was coined to define their type of sci-fi. It is set in a world where steam was the primary source of power, where everything was considered possible and expansion was the norm. Empires were built, new areas of the world taken over and why not go into space? – but at what cost to society? Significant influences were H.G. Wells and his time machine, Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Alan Moore's super heroes in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


Over the last 30 years a subculture has built up where people around the world have created an alternative Victorian future. The future and it's technologies have been taken back into the ornate and opulent world of grand fashion and gentlemanly manners, a future where there is a dark side of grime and the corruption of power that has to be overcome to create a new and better world. It is also a world where women have an equal involvement in politics, adventure and social change. The opportunity is also taken to parody the developments of history as we know it.


Anything can be influenced by Steampunk: literature, art, music, film, fashion, technology, invention, war, jewellery, sculpture and transport. This exhibition, “Steampunk: tomorrow as it used to be”, brings a flavour of the Steampunk culture to Oamaru. Here, we celebrate our Victorian heritage every year. With authentic architecture, an original harbour, and a core of committed enthusiasts, it is a natural backdrop for this genre. We have in our community a large number of incredibly creative and talented people, some of whom have contributed to this, the first, Steampunk exhibition.


The response for this initial exhibition has been unexpectedly enthusiastic. What of the next event? Is there something that you could create for an exhibition? Are you interested in stepping back into the future of the 21st Century yourself?

Contact The Victorian League of Imagineers lvi@steampunknz.co.nz

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