Variations on a theme: Steampunk

As everyone in the Jackverse knows, I am about to complete the first book in my Klockwerk Kabaret steampunk series. During the process of penning this tale, I fell in love with the genre. Not only does it offer the joy of creating something wholly unique, it allows the writer to dive into worlds unseen; with a fabric so flexible, the dirigible-filled sky is the limit.

Before this book is released, I wanted to touch on the variations on the steampunk theme — so you can have a full understanding of just what steampunk is before you lay down your iron coins to purchase my book.

Steampunk is a fairly broad brush. I’ve already address the question of What is Steampunk in my post “Steampunk: What it is and why you should care“. This time around, I want to point out some of the sub-genres of Steampunk, so you are fully prepared to decide for yourself, what flavor of Steampunk Klockwerk Kabaret falls into.

Atomic Punk: In this flavor of Steampunk, the steam has been replaced by atomic power. But it goes beyond power. This genre tends to focus on the Cold War in both political issue and architectural, fashion, and transportation design.

Clock Punk: This variation on Steampunk tends to lean on technology centered around clockwork. The confusion here is that both the general category (Steampunk) and Clock Punk can easily be intermixed. Many Steampunk stories (and designs) lean heavy on clockwork design and all Clock Punk worlds are Steampunk-centric.

Diesel Punk: If you want a darker, grittier Steampunk, you want Diesel Punk. The steam engine is replaced by the diesel engine, so immediately you know you’re dealing with a sky painted and choked in the black smoke of diesel engines. The fashion is also reflected in this — you’ll find a lot of WWII-era inspirations but also a good deal of racier and more revealing designs. Diesel Punk is very much in line with Cyberpunk in style and tone.

Gaslamp Fantasy: This is what happens when you mix high fantasy and Steampunk. Although Steampunk can tend toward the fantastical, the fantasy is typically mechanical. In Gaslamp Fantasy the fantasy leans toward the biological. Fairies, talking animals, and humans with super powers.

Spypunk: Need a little steam-powered James Bond? Some would even say the earlier James Bond films and Maxwell Smart fall into this category. Much of these retro-futuristic settings are peppered with incredibly advanced technology. It can be a bit of a stretch and I would say much of the recent Bond films no longer fall into this category.

Steamgoth: If you’ve ever seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then you know Steamgoth. It resplendent with darker, gothier fashion and subject matter (even with Vampires!). Cleavage is king (or Queen, as it were) and the top hats and ruffles are large. Colored contacts are often employed in the Steamgoth world — giving an added layer of creepy/sexy.

Steampulp: When you mix pulp fiction and steampunk, you get Steampulp. You’ll see many stereotyped views of society in a wash of colors from horror, mystery, soap opera, and more. You’ll find a lot of scantily dressed women, overblown heroic men and even more overblown situations. Steampulp is pure tongue in cheek fun with a dash of sexy.

Isn’t it amazing that a relatively new-to-the-masses genre can already have so many sub-genres? One of the reasons Steampunk has become so popular, I believe, is that it is not so heavily entrenched in boundaries. Yes, there are certain elements that must be present, but the genre is wide open to interpretation and inspiration. It also helps that the fashion from the genre has spilled out into the real world. Steampunk fashion is am amazing amalgamation of goth and victorian styles. It’s lovely, sexy, aristocratic, and proper all at the same time.

If I had to label Klockwerk Kabaret with one of the above sub-genres, I’d have to say, without a doubt, Clock Punk happily applies. As the name implies, a good deal of clockery goes down within the Mainspring and Keep of Keys world.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed your little visit. I know you need to hop into in your roadster, pull down your goggles, and speed off. Please, do visit the Jackverse again and look for information on my latest novels here.