There is more to the Steampunk movement than goggles and airships. Although the aesthetic is what catches the eye of the unfamiliar, it is the return to a time of civility in adventure and exploration that drives much of the appeal. Even beyond the technological marvels that are wedged into and around the world of steam power, Victorian life seems to be a major focus of the better fiction available on the market. All we can do is make guesses and formulate theories about the rise of Steampunk. There is little that can be pointed to as hard data or measurable statistics, so in the spirit of the true mathematician, guessing is as good a place to start as any.
In a time when relationships have become passe, and a sense of familiarity exists between men and women, a return to formality seems inevitable. Steampunk exists in a world where men were willing to be involved in meaningful relationships with other men and respect one another as friends and allies while maintaining a sense of decorum and observing the rules of good conduct and civil discourse. Even the villains seem to be capable of dastardly deeds performed within the framework of proper protocol. “I find it necessary to dispose of you, good hero, but first a cup of tea?”
In the Victorian era of scientific expansion, the sense of adventure spread among men of science through a common desire to explore the unknown and advance scientific knowledge, and camaraderie was built on the trails and windings of dangerous expeditions. In the Steampunk world, these exploits become the basis for great stories as well as romps into the fantastic while forging friendships that stand up to everything from industrial intrigue to sky-pirates.
Perhaps we have too few challenges in our daily lives and that is what draws us to the fantastical world of adventure. The characters who inhabit Steampunk fiction battle unforeseen hazards at every turn, and they grow in strength and character as a result of their perseverance. They overthrow the industrial giants and defeat the sky-pirates, all while enjoying a raspberry scone. That type of life has an appeal to the adventurer in us all, and a growing number of fans are discovering the joys of Steampunk fiction with its call to explorer the new frontiers that continue to exist in the world around us.
Female heroines, you say? Of course, but that’s for another post.