A ragtag definition compiled by myself and a few friends.*
–brass, gears, goggles, perhaps a top-hat or two
–mad scientists, the world that never was, steam powered engines, gaslight
–dirigibles, airships, aviators, adventure, romanticized Victorian-era England but can take place anywhere in the world or beyond
–fantastical alternate worlds circa the late 1800s where social inequalities are showcased, and/or corrected and rebelled against…this is more of the “punk” aspect, it’s a past re-imagined
–sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction
–subculture of fashion, music, literature, entertainment/media and the DIY/lifestyle
Wikipedia definition :
Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where STEAM POWER is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.
Great online resources:
By no means is this list complete but there is enough information bustling on these websites to keep any reader busy, plus they will offer more resources for future study/research.
* meant to be a light-hearted look at what Steampunk means to people because the true definition is varied and complex and often differs person to person