Who am I?
In the steampunk world, I am Lucretia Strange, the Baroness Strange. I run the Promethean Society, and do a variety of presentations at steampunk conventions.

In the real world, I am Cassie Beyer and a historian with a blog, History, Interrupted, devoted to history, steampunk, costuming, popular culture and other eclectic interests.

You can best reach me through the Promethean Society or through Cassie@AlterEgoDesign.netAlterEgo is my freelance web design endeavor focused on small businesses, individuals and organizations.


First Rule of Steampunk: There are No Rules of Steampunk

One of the problems in defining Steampunk is that as soon as you start describing the genre, you start creating boundaries. While a general definition is necessary to get people going in the right direction, don't worry about breaking some unwritten rule, as they largely don't exist.

The Basics

In steampunk, steam engines can accomplish more than any steam engine ever should. The effective technology might be at modern or even futuristic levels, but the machines are larger and more clunky. It's chemical, not digital. Prosthetic limbs are full of gears, cables, gages and hydraulics. Flying machines are driven by propellers and balloons rather than jet engines.

Authentic Victorian Era Guns

Steampunk Guns

Woman on Left is Not VictorianHistorical Accuracy

Steampunk is a modern interpretation of Victorian science fiction.  That means Victorian fashion is a good starting point, but it's not an end point. There's a lot of anachronisms in steampunk. (We even let our women wear pants.)

This isn't the Victorian Age of 100 year ago...it's the Victorian Age on some alternative Earth.

At right, for example, we have myself as Lucretia Strange (right), wearing fairly traditional, Victorian-inspired (although in no way Victorian-accurate) steampunk.  Yet, her insufficiently evil twin, Ludmilla (left), is pretty much an explosion of anachronism and style mixture.

Am I Steampunk Enough?

Many people, particularly newcomers, are concerned that they don't "look steampunk." It is exactly those people for whom this website is built.  Steampunk costuming can be quite simple, once you find a starting point. For the basics, check out:

Then, you might add an accessory or two. Check out Accessories for Men and Women.

Do you look like someone who might live in an alternative Victorian Age, whether as a worker, aristocrat, professional, soldier, mechanic, explorer, pilot performer, scientist, etc? Then you're steampunk enough.

We're Not Made of Money

There are places in this website where I point out certain no-nos, such as tennis shoes. If you're trying for a complete look, you should have something other than tennis shoes (and I give plenty of suggestions).

That doesn't mean we're going to point and laugh if you show up with tennis shoes on. This is an inclusive, not exclusive, community. We have a wide range of ages in a wide range of economic situations. No one is expecting you to drop a bunch of money into this hobby. If tennis shoes are all you own, so be it. It's not the end of the world. But there really can be some cheap alternatives (some of which may already be in your closet).

Historical Inspirations

Steampunk looks to Victorian science-fiction writers for much of their inspiration. Examples include:

  • 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  • The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as well as many of his other Professor Challenger stories)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau and War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Modern Examples

If you're looking for more visual references, there are many modern examples:

  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Both the movie or the graphic novel)
  • The War of the Worlds (2005) - while set in modern day, the heavy, clanking, screeching, smoke-producing alien tripods are a vision of steampunk
  • Wild Wild West (Both TV and movie versions)
  • Steamboy (anime)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (anime)
  • The Prestige
  • The Golden Compass

Want a really accessible and cheap introduction? Read the free web comic Girl Genius.

Bustle with Stuffed AnimalsImagination and Creativity

Steampunk might be broken down into three components: history, science, and creativity. Many of us became attracted to steampunk precisely because there is so much flexibility in the style. It's a young and ever-changing genre. People are constantly generating new ideas, and we embrace those ideas.

At right, a woman's dress exposes the hoop skirt underneath, where she has humorously placed a variety of stuffed animals.  I think of her as the steampunk crazy cat lady.

So be creative. Don't hold back an idea out of fear that it won't fit some narrow and specific definition, because that's not generally how we work.