In November 2010, a small but growing group of Victorian Alternate Historians, often referred to as Steampunk, met for the first conference of its kind. There was music, fashion, merchants, and all the other trappings of the Victorian time period set in a venue of what if. What set this conference apart was the academic nature of the presentations. Utilizing the internet and scholarly publications, a call for papers was sent out and the response was impressive. Faculty, graduate students, specialists, and general interest writers wrote, prepared, and presented on a wide array of subject matters. This publication is the culmination of those presentations. Before, during, and after the conference, Steampunk became a much debated and discussed subject on our list servers and emails. While some had no idea what Steampunk was and others had an idea that they thought was correct, there was no one size fits all definition to this new genre. It was at that point that a number of us that had been at the conference sat down and tried to describe the phenomenon. This is what we came up with: Steampunk is a juxtaposition of science fiction, fantasy, and Victorian alternate history. Its roots are in the literature and architecture of the late 19th century while having its branches reach into the future. It is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the music of Abney Park, the engineering of Nikola Tesla, and the aviation of helium and hot air. In the 1980s a subculture of science fiction found a foothold in literature and science fiction conventions. These paths not taken alternative histories gave the cyberpunk and Goth followers at the conventions a new path to follow. There were the works of H. G. Wells, the undersea submersible of Captain Nemo in Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the Victorian work of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to start with. Add to that the architecture of the Victorian age as a gentrification in many of the inner cities of America and England, and you have a breeding ground for something not quite realized but possibly attainable.
About the Author: Gypsey Elaine Teague is the Branch Head of the Gunnin Architecture Library at Clemson University, South Carolina, USA. She describes herself as academically diverse, holding a number of graduate degrees from fields as far reaching as Business, Library Science, and Landscape Architecture to name some of them. Her interest in Steampunk is driven by the need to build and create. She is a published novelist, actress, performer, and inventor. For more information, please visit her website at http: //claire_daniels.tripod.com