steampunk n. 2

a subgenre of science fiction which has a historical setting (esp. based on industrialized, nineteenth-century society) and characteristically features steam-powered, mechanized machinery rather than electronic technology

SF Encyclopedia


SF Criticism


  • 1987 Locus May 56/1

    What does he think about being a member of the ‘steam punk’ movement?

  • 1987 J. Blaylock in Locus May 57/1

    There’s railroad trains, a lot of steam-driven stuff, but that’s about it. More ‘steam punk’, I suppose.

  • 1991 Locus Nov. 15/1

    Some highlights:…‘Souls in the Great Machine’ by Sean McMullen, an elegant variant on a traditional sf theme, here transformed into a baroque post-industrial vision resembling ‘steampunk’ but even more bizarre.

  • 1993 Science Fiction Age Jan. 74/3

    Paul Di Filippo says that his newest works are taking a turn from cyberpunk to steampunk, following in the footsteps of many other s.f. writers.

  • 1993 Science Fiction Studies Nov. 455

    We wanted our cyberspace to have a ‘steampunk’ feel and a sense that the whole thing was held together with bailing wire and hot glue.

  • 1995 Interzone Oct. 59/1

    Unlike James Blaylock, whose steampunk sagas are characterized by a romantic vision of Victorian London as it should have been, a playground for eccentrics, fantastic devices and sinister occult conspiracies, Di Filippo’s acidly funny tales are funhouse mirrors which warp and satirize precisely recreated conventions and prejudices of the era with deadpan wit.

  • 1997 Science-Fiction Studies Mar. 145

    Even though he writes passionately against the genre of alternate histories being included among sf subgenres, two of his most expansive ruminations are on steampunk books, Tim Powers’s Anubis Gates and Gibson-Sterling’s Difference Engine, which became occasions for passionate lectures on Dickens’s contribution to urban fantasy.

  • 2013 L. D. Estleman Alive! xxiv. 236 page image Loren D. Estleman

    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is steampunk?’ ‘Think about it. The Nautilus? All those exposed pipes and spinning turbines, that cool iris window?’

Research requirements

antedating 1987

Earliest cite

James Blaylock in Locus

Research History
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1987 cite from an interview with James Blaylock in Locus. Jeff Prucher submitted a 1997 cite from SF Studies. Mike Christie submitted a 1993 cite from Peter Nicholls in the Nicholls and Clute "Encyclopedia of SF". Jeff Prucher submitted a 1995 cite from Richard Gehr in "The Village Voice".

Added to OED in June 2003

Last modified 2021-03-12 02:35:02
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.