The World of Steampunk
Steampunk is an increasingly popular literary genre which explores science fiction themes from the perspective of the Victorian era and based on technology extrapolated from the science and engineering capabilities of the 18th and 19th centuries. It has its earliest roots in the speculative writing of Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. It emerged as a distinct modern literary movement in the 1980s with the work of writers who were influenced by Michael Moorcock, Philip K. Dick and the New Wave science fiction of the late 1960s and 1970s, which turned into the cyberpunk genre by the 1980s. Cyberpunk in turn begat steampunk which appealed to many of the same writers and attracted its own following by the end of the decade.
The first clearly identifiable steampunk novel is James P. Blaylock’s Homunculus, published in 1986 (the current edition features our Norumbega font on the cover), though some elements of the genre are foreshadowed in his novel The Digging Leviathan which was published two years earlier. The genre became more clearly defined with the publication of The Difference Engine by cyberpunk masters William Gibson and Bruce Sterling in 1991. From that point more authors were attracted to the themes they explored and the genre began to expand, attract a following and become influential. As the genre developed, common themes began to emerge, including some emphasis on the impact of science and industry on the environment, the blurry line between science and magic and the dehumanizing role of technology. Much steampunk writing has a strong element of luddism in it and an interest in alternative technologies which fell by the wayside in the modern era like airships and complex clockwork devices.
The movement has spawned a Steampunk comic book, a Steampunk Magazine, several anthologies of short fiction and a large number of novels of various levels of quality, aimed at both adults and younger readers. The imprint of steampunk can be found on other novels — especially fantasy novels — which are not strictly of the genre, like Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and its sequels. Greg Keyes Age of Unreason series is also heavily influenced by steampunk, taking a similar style into a slightly earlier era to have fun with the science of the enlightenment. There are even a few movies which have had their style and themes shaped by the Steampunk movement like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the animated feature Steamboy. Not surprisingly there is also a Steampunk roleplaying game based on the GURPS game system. Steampunk has become a popular and even pervasive genre with an influence which goes far beyond its literary origins. It’s gone so far that there are even steampunk conventions.
Perhaps most interesting is that Steampunk has inspired a powerful design movement. It may currently be somewhat underground and avant garde, but the Steampunk influence is becoming widespread. There is Steampunk art and clothing and graphic design. You can find a good overview of Steampunk design at the WebUrbanist blog. Outsapop Trashion has an excellent article on Steampunk themed fashion design and you can find incredible photos of some very creative clothing designs on the Steampunk Fashion Flickr group. For some reason all steampunk fashion must be accessorized with goggles. On Etsy.com you can find all manner of Steampunk themed jewelry, props and fashion accessories for sale at some very reasonable prices. You can find lots of good articles on steampunk design at Steampunk Workshop which has some coverage of Dave Veloz’ unique steampunk Mac Mini redesign. And don’t miss the most bizarre item of all, a Steampunk style computer which also brews beer. Steampunk design is all gears and levers and brass, but it has a unique look which is both antique and futuristic at the same time and is very appealing.
Now, you may wonder why I’m going on daftly about this strange and intriguing literary and design movement. Ponder the implications and if you check back in over the next couple of days the significance of all of this will become very clear.
January 7, 2009 | Filed Under Articles
New Font: BigBlok
A great many years ago when working in game publishing I had a real fascination with doing titles in a strong, super-bold font called Bolt Bold. The truth is I rather overused it. In doing some research I find it on more than a dozen different game books I wrote in the early 80s, all quite collectable and out of print today.
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Cosmic Dude was designed as one of the special original fonts developed for our Modern Poster Fonts package. The character forms are based on samples of hand lettering from a late 1970s rock show poster. The character set includes numbers, punctuation, uppercase letter[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Squiffy is a fun font. It has a background in arts and crafts style font design, but rather than the regular, architectural character forms and arrangements, the characters are wild and irregular and highly varied. There are two distinct versions of every character, with[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Malagua was originally released in 1999 and has been revised several times since then, culminating in this new release with improved weighting and additional special characters. MAlagua is based on examples of rough hand lettering from the 17th century. It has characteristics [...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Mannering is a new font design derived from some samples of an uppercase letter set by Samuel Welo, with additional lowercase characters and numbers added to it in the same style. It is a sans serif font with calligraphic lines and distinctive embellished horizontal cro[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Our original Folkard font has achieved near legendary status as one of the most interesting calligraphic title fonts of the contemporary era. It has been enormously popular and appeared on movie titles, book covers, t-shirts and games. However it is not the only [...]
Dahlgren is a heavyweight, square shaped font which works well for titles and display uses. Its an original design, with a standard character set and a set of outline characters. It takes its name from the Civil War era engineer who designed the Dahlgren Gun. You can try the DEMO version of Dahlgren for fre[...]
Merguez is a hand lettered font in the tradition of Speedball freehand calligraphy, but with some unusual flourishes. It makes an excellent alternative to boring informal hand lettering fonts like Comic Sans. It includes a full upper and lower case character set, plus numbers and punctuation. We picked the n[...]
Butterfield is based on letting from a poster for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It can be found as part of Psychedelic Fonts Collection package. It has a unique look particularly characteristic of the 60s and especially suited to use on posters. It has a full set of numbers and punctuation, plus custom small [...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Script fonts can be a real challenge to design, especially when they are designed to have interconnecting characters which require exacting kerning and character positioning. When we first developed Orphiel we did a lot of kerning work on it, but despite a g[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Startling Stories was a pulp-era science fiction magazine known for its lurid covers by Earle K. Bergey and its eye-catching title designs. It was a companion to Thrilling Wonder Stories and Fantastic Stories. The magazine was very successful in the immediate pos[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Quicksilver was designed as one of the original featured fonts included in our Psychedelic Fonts Package. It was developed into a full font from a sample of lettering from Quicksilver Messenger Service's live album Summer of '68 and posters for shows associated with it [...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Highball is a bold font in every sense of the word. Yes, its weight is heavy and pronounced in the traditional meaning of bold, but it is also of an extreme height which could be considered bold, and of a boldly progressive style. Highball features a full character s[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Sanhedrin is a decorative futuristic font, which features two distinct sets of different characters and a number of additional special characters. It draws some characters from the Greek alphabet and also has some unusual art nouveau character forms and a strange biblic[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Our Munich font was first released in 1998 and has been revised several times since then. This latest version includes substantial improvements in the outlines of the characters and a new set of simple upper case initials. Munich is based on one of the classic lettering styles used on[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Slava is based on lettering by legendary Art Nouveau master Alphons Mucha from his later post-Parisian period when he returned to Prague and did a lot of design work in support of the slavic nationalist movement. The letter forms still have many of the characteristics of[...]
I was in the Austin airport taking off for parts unknown and felt a need for breakfast. Apparently the only option for a late-morning breakfast taco was Maudie's Tex Mex, so I headed for Gate 11. I got my breakfast tacos, and they were truly awful, but the experience was made somewhat better by seeing their interesting[more]
MAJOR WORKS A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden Aladdin's Picture Book Crane Arthurian Art Columbia's Courtship The Golden Primer The Shepherd's Calendar A Flower Wedding Queen Summer Pan Pipes BABY'S COLLECTIONS The Baby's Aesop The Baby's Opera The Baby's Bouquet MINI-PAC[more]
As the blazing heat of and endless Summer begins to fade, what could be a better deal than a sale on single fonts to start the new season? For two weeks, through September 25th, if you place an order for an assortment of single fonts of your choice, the more you order the bigger the discount, as listed below. Your s[more]
Too often when looking at antique books we concentrate on the contents and ignore the covers, but some book covers are artworks in their own right and cannot be ignored, this is even more true with eBooks which are more and more causing content to be divorced from packaging. In the early 20th century, before the adv[more]
This is a special collection of borders (and three illustrations) drawn by Louis Rhead for William Morris' translation of The History of Oversea. These are striking borders in Rhead's unique art nouveau style, well suited to various adaptations. The collection contains 13 borders and 3 illustrations, the complete d[more]
With the premier of the fourth season of American Horror Story this Wednesday on the FX network, a lot of people will be seeing our Chelsea Studio in their high style commercials all over their cable networks. My teenage, horror-obsessed daughter drew my attention to their use of the font in the titles and it was gr[more]
We have an awful lot of fonts. Well over 500 of them and more all the time. Plus we're starting a great new discount when you order multiple fonts at the same time...fonts as much at 50% off. We've just updated one of our most useful reference tool, a graphic preview gallery of all hundreds of our new and feature[more]
Austin is a great center for the arts, not only music and film and other performing arts, but visual arts and all sorts of crafts. All these events and shows have to be advertised and the traditional method of getting the word out is through posters distributed all over town wherever people gather. I like to go arou[more]
- Psychedelic Font Collection
- Abaddon - Bullet for My Valentine Logo Font
- Howard Pyle Fonts and Art Package
- Font Gallery
- Keith: I'm wondering if you can create fonts in a persons own written or printed handwriting for emailing or other online communication. Thanks, Keith
- Dave: We do. Check out Broadley. http://www.fontcraft.com/fontcraft/index.php?s=broadley
- ty marshall: do you have a font that would be representative of an architects block printing?
- Book Cover Designs by Margaret Armstrong
- Mark Wukas: How about a "blueflower" font?