There are many reasons why Steampunk uses the Victorian Era as its jumping off point. The wardrobe for one. Who doesn’t enjoy gentlemen decked out in dapper finery, or women in corsetry and lace? It removes us from the casualness of modern times, while staying within the very edges of modernity’s comforts.
But it isn’t all about fashion, of course. It’s about the toys! The chaos of the industrial revolution was easing into something more comfortable and familiar, and incorporating technology into daily life was becoming far more regular.
Steampunk posits what would happen if industry had gone with alternate sources of energy for its designs. Steam, obviously, but also the notion of aether, which was what alchemists and late 19th century scientists thought made up all that space in – well – space. Harnessing that would give someone power over gravity and magnetism, which leads of course to airships.
Invention in historical Victorian times was an explosion of ingenuity. We have this era to thank for things like cameras, the telephone, ice cream, sewing machines, steamboats, ice cream, movies, ice cream… well you get the idea.
One of the joys of designing Steampunk is to take more modern conveniences and make them available somehow using the technology of Victorian times. Sometimes you’re reinventing the wheel, however, because while they might not have been able to make everything they dreamed of work quite yet, there were some remarkable patents that came out of that era. I’ve tacked some of the fun ones below. What kind of modern convenience would you like to see in Steampunk form?