The Airship Ambassador, Kevin D. Steil turned an idea into a reality, and that's how Steampunk Hands Across the World was born. "Hands" is a month-long celebration of steampunk reaching all around the globe. Through blogs to videos to live events, it's been an amazing adventure forging new friendships with other steampunks from other parts of the world. And that's really what Steampunk Hands Across the World is about.
|Jeni Hellum. Photo by Anna Fischer|
I say its evolution is inevitable because the people demand it. As the love for the pure aesthetics and beauty of steampunk spread all over the world, enthusiasts of the genre began to look at their own societies and cultures. After all, the 19th century happened all over the world, right?
Despite the cultural differences of steampunk across the world, there's still many common threads:
1) The exploration of global colonialism. Beyond the British Empire's expansion, you also have French,
Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, Mexico, Latin/South America, The Ottomans, Persia, etc. The 19th century is the beginning of a truly global society, and with that, there came a lot of societal/political upheaval and conflict.
2) Industrial and technological explosion. The true revolutionaries of the 19th century were inventors and scientists who dared to dream...and being those dreams to life. Gas lighting, steam powered locomotives, electricity, the telephone, the typewriter, the sewing machine...all of these were invented during this time period. And it changed the way the world worked forever.
Focus on the PUNK aspect of steampunk. With all the global revolution, there was also a dark side to all this progress. The 19th century also saw a lot of oppression. The powerful became more powerful, and the "punk" aspect of the genre focused on those on the fringe of society who challenged modern conventions. Punk can refer to the downtrodden, the enslaved, or the rebels fighting the powers-that-be for equal rights and opportunity.
Steampunk is taking history and turning it on its head. It's science fiction at its finest, because it relies on the power of "what if."
With the genre moving beyond Victorian England, it allows us to fully explore our own world today. By looking back at history and throwing some of the futuristic elements into the mix, what we're really doing is making statements about our contemporary world in an effort to understand ourselves.
And steampunk can be a bridge to that understanding.
-- Jay Noel