What is steampunk? Take it away, Sir Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire:
There a million blogs out there discuss what steampunk is, and I don’t want to linger on the point too long – so, to paraphrase Sir Reginald, ‘Steampunk refers to a type of science fiction about alternate pasts (not future prediction), often set in Victorian Britain but the history of technology is being rewritten.’
Some of the most famous examples of steampunk are books that were written during the Victorian times: H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, for example, or Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Some more modern examples are Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.
I’d heard of steampunk before I got to uni, but it was only when I was at uni that my boyfriend, Mike, was able to take me over to Southampton every other weekend to meet with Krakensoc (short for Kraken Society), the steampunk group he’d helped put together.
The first time we met, Mike and I had ridden over on his motorbike. We had normal clothes on under our leathers, but we were the only ones: we were greeted with hat tips and salutes by a group of lads (the girls took longer to join up) in top hats, shiny brass goggles and military coats. After that, I remember a lot of bike trips with my leather trousers digging corset bones into my hips.
Krakensoc was mostly run by engineering students back then, like Mike, and several members also had a background in the sea cadets or similar. This meant our events, on top of the general film nights and trips to antique fairs, had a leaning towards Victorian invention. We visited HMS Great Britain to look at Brunel’s work, among other things.
There were also plenty of events to keep a girly English dork happy: a masquerade ball featuring lessons in Regency dance and tea duelling sticks out in my mind.
Over the last few years of going to Krakensoc – and going less recently, since Mike graduated and is no longer able to cart me over on the bike whenever we please – I’ve wanted to write a steampunk book. I’ve been hoarding ideas (‘What about steampunk assassins!’) for years and just letting them fester without touching them. Sometimes that’s what you have to do! Eventually, all of the little ideas and short stories can come together into a novel.
And that is exactly what I’m writing right now: a steampunk book that took a month to plan out and will probably take another three or four to write and edit, but which took years to slowly grow in my mind, at the same time as my corset collection slowly grew in my wardrobe.
Basically, this whole post is a giant thank you note to Krakensoc, for letting me trail along looking baffled at all the techie talk, even as I frantically scribbled down the few bits and bobs I did understand. And for that one time you all explained Schrödinger’s cat to me and I didn’t sleep all night.