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 Edifice is a decorative titling font based on samples of lettering by J. M. Bergling. It has an architectural, constructed look to it. Very well suited to sign and poster design. It's stylish but still readable and clear. Edifice includes a full uppercase charac[...]
Vasilisa is based on Russian folk art lettering from the pre-revolutionary period. It is included in our original Russian Fonts and Art package. It is very readable in English but also includes elements of Cyrillic lettering. It is evocative of rural Russian life and fits well with the hand crafted peasant wood[...]
Once again we are calling on the classic early 20th century lettering work of J. M. Bergling to produce a new font with a timeless look which combines elements of text and titling styles for a versatile and elegant effect. Diomedes includes a full set of upper and lower case characters plus an interesting sele[...]
When we did a font (and a feature article) recently based on a design by Alexander Rodchenko, the result was a very cool font, but while it was based on Rodchenko lettering, it is not the style most associated with his work. The tall thin look of the Rodchenko font is less typical of his work than the heavier,[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO We have done a number of fonts based on unique, historic movie titles. The most well known and widely circulated is our Captain Kidd font, but we have another historic movie font based on an even more famous movie, our Locksley font which comes from the titles of the Adventures of [...]
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 Froissart font was first released in 2000 as part of our Medieval Fonts and Art package. It is an accurate recreation of the Littera Bastarda calligraphic style which was popular in the 14th and 15th centuries as gothic styles were losing popularity and there was a demand for s[...]
Fougasse is a bold title font which has a unique combination of elements, including an unusually heavy weight, some unusual Art Deco period character forms and rough outlines to the character which are not too pronounced, but give it a sort of a naturalistic look which makes the characters stand out more. Foug[...]
Alecto was originally released in 2002 and was one of the fonts developed for our Futuristic Fonts package. It has a unique science fictional look, combining some of the look of an OCR font with pure fantasy elements. It's just the kind of thing you'd expect to see on the side of a spaceship in an epic space ope[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Escargot is based on lettering from the cover of an early pulp novel I came across a couple of months ago. It's a strong example of a distinctive style of sign and poster lettering from the 1930, characterized by super high contrast between the weighting on the le[...]
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[...]
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[...]
I was watching the television show Sons of Anarchy and on looking at the logo for the show I was struck by the similarity between the lettering used for the name of the titular motorcycle gang and our Posada font. Clearly their lettering derived from that same neo-gothic southwestern tradition. The main differe[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview You may recall a couple of months ago when we had some font samples posted on the page to vote on. Well, the winner of the vote by a significant margin was a sample of lettering by Samuel Welo, and now as promised, it is available as our newest font: Carillon. They f[...]
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[...]
It's been a while since we released any new art from our collection of fairytale books illustrated by Charles Folkard. So it's about time we make available this collection of his illustrations for Grimm's Fairy Tales. This mini-package includes 8 beautifully drawn and colored images from stories by the Brothers Grim[more]
I'm back at Typecon and things are in full swing now. There was a long but fascinating keynote presentation from Tobias Frere-Jones last night on type as security in banknotes. It was the main entertainment for the evening and went on an on for a bit. I actually had to cut out before I could ask my question - "Why ar[more]
For TypeCon we produced a special collection of Walter Crane Fonts and Art on a Flash Drive shaped like a business card. We have some of these left over after the event and nothing to do with them except sell them as a special item on our web page. The package contains five original Walter Crane fonts, including one[more]
We've got five designs were considering for out next font. They all fairly similar so we need some help choosing. Which one would you like to see next?[more]
I was shopping in my local HEB grocery store this weekend and found myself in the soft drink section, confronted by a wall of cool retro-looking bottles of all sorts of sodas from the Dublin Bottling Works, a company based in Dublin Texas which produces a full line of specialty soft drinks, apparently mostly for distri[more]
Our gothic font collection is a compilation of our most interesting fonts based on gothic type and late medieval calligraphy. It covers the range from the historical styles in which gothic printing had its inspiration to the ornate heights of complex gothic fonts from 19th century Germany. This includes fonts in the[more]
There are many good things about Typecon and many nice things I could say, but instead I find myself seized with a compulsion to recast Typecon like old metal type that's melted down and mold into a new font. I've got lots of experience with conferences in a number of different industries, as an attendee. a sponsor,[more]
In the early 20th century, before the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, the Art Nouveau movement crept into the failing empire by way of Alphons Mucha and the Slavic Folk Art movement in Czechoslovakia. Russian artists picked up on the ideas of these movements and began producing new styles of art for a growing [more]
- New Font: Carillon
- Font/Image Licenses
- Abaddon in Maleficent
- Artificial Insemination Cost In South Africa: Artificial Insemination Cost In South Africa blog topic
- Classic Font: Lachesis
- tappan appliance parts: tappan appliance parts blog topic
- The Gargoyles of Penn
- Byam Shaw Illustrations for Legendary Ballads
- A Little Guide to Bookbinding