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Is It Really Steampunk?

Hello protagonists! If you’re a follower of mine and have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll be very aware of my recently released book Spring-Heeled Jack. I’ve talked about it a lot and now that the physical release is getting closer, I thought that I need to address something very important. Constantly, I call Spring-Heeled Jack and the whole Queen of Spades series steampunk. But, is it really? When I explain it to my friends they all ask me if it really qualifies as a steampunk story or a sci-fi story that just takes place in the past. I guess before we can answer that, we’ll need to buckle down and define steampunk itself.

As said by the ever so trustworthy Wikipedia, steampunk is a sub-genre of science-fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Essentially, it means science-fiction from the British Victorian era or the American “Wild West.” Now, to describe steampunk as simply as possible, I like to just refer to it as “Science fiction depicting the future from the early 1900’s.” or just “Old science fiction.”

One of the biggest things about steampunk is its very distinct look. If you just search for “Steampunk” on google images, you’ll understand what I mean very quickly. Gears, springs, corsets, top hats, gears, Earthy brass and brown colors, wood grain, gears, rustic and old looking automatons, goggles, trains, gears, airships and zeppelins, monocles, clocks, gears and even more gears. But, do you really need these things to make something steampunk? Well, yes and no. You see, it’s not that these things are naturally steampunk-steampunk3y, but instead they are
heavily rooted in the time frame of which most steampunk is based. In the early 1900’s, most people assumed that steam power was the way of the future, and that’s one of the reasons why I describe steampunk as “Old science fiction.” The gears were incorporated in all sorts of technologies at the time, and trains and zeppelins were thought to be the way of the future. But like I said before, they are not inherently steampunk; they are simply a reflection of the time period.

 

So now that we know basically what steampunk is, I can really ask: Is Spring-Heeled Jack steampunk? Let’s start with the setting: Spring-Heeled Jack takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada in the 1950’s. So right off the bat, we don’t have a traditional steampunk setting. The 1950’s isn’t exactly the time most people think of when they think steampunk, but for me it opened up an interesting opportunity. I thought of this world where the steampunk technology would’ve been around for much longer and much more advanced. It would still resemble the brazen geared technology, but in the same way the real 1900’s evolved into the real 1950’s. I thought of it more as a natural progression of this fictional science.

Also, since it takes place in the 50’s, I couldn’t use the traditional steampunk fashion sense of early Victorian era clothing littered with gears. Instead, I tried to think of something a bit more modern but with a steampunk-ish twist. I looked at a lot of fashion from the 50’s and tried my best to incorporate common steampunk themes such as gear patterns on clothing and accessories, fancy goggles instead of glasses, and so on.

Personally, I feel that Spring-Heeled Jack is a steampunk story, just merely in a different setting. To me, the technology in the world is really what makes something steampunk, not the clothing or the time frame. Perhaps at first glance you wouldn’t realize its steampunk. To be honest I didn’t want it to be so in your face. I wanted to write a sci-fi story that kids would easily be able to understand. In school, you learn about the industrial revolution and how important steam power was at the time and it would only make sense for a sci-fi story in the past to utilize that kind of tech, but perhaps to a child or young teen it would be kind of strange.

Anyways, protagonists, I hope this has been an interesting read for you. Spring-Heeled Jack is still free on [Smashwords] and only $0.99 on [Amazon] so go ahead and give it a read if you haven’t already. Or, if you’re interested in a physical copy, the paperback version is coming by the end of the month. The “official” release isn’t set in stone yet, but I’m hoping it to be by either late this month or early August. So thank you all for tuning in today folks; have a wonderful day!

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