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Do You Know Post-Apocalyptic Steampunk?

5 min read

Welcome to a futuristic universe between Mad-Max and Attack of the Titans.

Steampunk focuses mainly on a hypothesis: "what if? It is essentially based on the creation of uchronies, either on speculative fiction or on what is called alternative history, which is inspired by the period of the second industrial revolution of the Victorian era. This period is mainly concentrated in the British Empire during the sixty-four years of Queen Victoria's reign, with domination in countries on five continents and not only in the British territories, as is often thought.

But could we establish a steampunk beyond the 19th century? For many, the answer leaves no room for doubt, because, however futuristic it may be, steampunk presents a series of anachronisms that are necessary so that it does not become a simple historical parody and does not take on shades of science fiction with a Victorian aesthetic, as several specialists in the subject have said. The establishment of a cultural, social and technological progress faster and even very similar to the advances of today's society is largely what we can observe among professionals and enthusiasts of the movement, especially those who focus on the creation and modification of gadgets, those modern artisans who love and defend the DIY or "Do it yourself".

Computers, cell phones and other modern gadgets are irrefutable proof that steampunk perfectly blends two eras, manifesting the creativity of individuals in an amalgamation between the two;

According to writer G.D Falksen in a post written in cogs and steam engine mode (Live Journal, June 2010), "post-apo is not steampunk and steampunk is not post-apo. Many readers will be able to agree with the opinion given by this recognized figure of the movement, both because of the approach and because they simply grant him a certain degree of authority, but the editors of steampunk magazine do not agree with what Falksen says. They had placed a notice at the entrance of the magazine's website giving their opinion in a well-felt article and a request via a form to get the opinion of the Internet users. On the one hand, the American writer argued that due to the nature of a post-apocalyptic scenario, the company would not have the pure water that would require steam technology to function. After a catastrophe that would have left the planet in a deserted environment (Mad Max or Fallout style), a freezing environment or even a Waterworld type environment, it would be impossible to find a lost technology. Taking this argument into account, one could think that in G.D.'s argument Falksen is right, but later he admits the possibility of a steampunk genre that he calls "post-post-apocalyptic". In this scenario, after the catastrophe, the world has reached a technological era of pre-industrial style and after a while the survivors have organized themselves and have built a society that advances towards an industrial revolution.

For many vapourists, including myself, we believe that the fact that before the catastrophe there was an industrialized world is enough to leave a remnant of useful parts and materials. This is why we can think that in order to take back the catastrophe, steam technology can allow us to recreate the tools and the aspects necessary for a new world. Furthermore, it can be added that an industrial society is not a requirement for a steampunk scene.

Like the film Snowpiercer (but not the comic book, which is not), the post-apocalyptic future can be a mixture of futuristic and retrofuturistic technology. In this film, there are ultramodern trains that run at high speeds, but within them, people live with limited and precarious technology. In fact, the story is very steampunk.

Alternatively, let's let the apocalyptic scenario happen in the Victorian era. The remains of the catastrophe (natural or artificial) would remain clearly steampunk. Just as the post-apocalyptic cars in Mad Max are contemporary cars, but modified with what they found in garbage cans and garbage dumps, a steampunk post-apocalyptic balloon can be a modern balloon, but the basket could be made of scrap metal or armed with clocks. The steam engine is still there, but it was not the only Victorian technology.

The future could be made without steam engines. Like the dieselpunk style, which is derived from steampunk, which focuses more on fuel, the Mad Max style where post-apo is restricted. One can easily imagine this universe filled with Bikers, punks and poor victims to occupy them. In general, the latter are looted and tortured by a crowd of ugly, smelly brutes, who are often massacred by the heroes of the story with chains or kicks.

After analyzing a significant number of works, I believe that steampunk is created by two major forces.

  • One is the tangible aspects, such as the typical Victorian era look and the addition of steam and mechanical technology.
  • The other is the intangible aspects, which create the "feel". Personally, I think the first one does much more by defining the basis of steampunk, to which we can add our own visions and feelings about the genre.
If this is true, I don't think it's so impossible to imagine a world with a new industrial revolution that doesn't meet the ideal standards. It will just allow to springboard a new and more ecological era towards a new information society.

Personally, it seems to me that the subject can give a lot of trouble... You have to make your own vision and your own opinions. It seems to me first of all that everything that happens after a disaster has apocalyptic dimensions. It takes time for a society to re-establish itself, a new paradigm of existence must be put in place. The technologies it achieves with the resources it develops or finds takes time. It is precisely this transition phase that is called post-apocalyptic. In the same way and in my opinion, a world that contains only steam technology is not enough to be called Steampunk.


Let's imagine a post apo steampunk universe.

What if, after a major alien invasion, humanity was almost annihilated and after years of war against the aliens, the human survivors developed a Victorian style technology? This would certainly give us a world very close to Turn A Gundam, a work covered in the ten Steampunk manga article.

Of course, there would be many questions to answer and they usually result in an infinite number of lines that would create more than one story arc to tell. This undoubtedly leaves the way open to develop different manifestations of steampunk, not only at the literary level of fiction but at the DIY level of creation.


In the end, and like everything else in this rerefuturism, I'm sure that each individual will have his or her own opinion on whether or not steampunk can be post-apocalyptic and what characteristics it would have. And the arguments and the reasons that other people will have will be in essence to tell you that if you move away from the Victorian era you might lose the steampunk essence. The issue is to stop being puritanical and conservative, we have to de-mystify the concept of steampunk, stop seeing it as something immutable, as if there is only one right way to do it.
For me, that's what one of the wonders of this movement is: the individuality with which each person understands and develops what they like and are most attracted to.

And there is nothing more punk than that. See you soon vaporists for a new article on the bewitching universe of Steampunk

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