Facebook page. Coldwater Event calendar.
In a similar vein, Orillia's Museum of Art and History has a Steampunk exhibit.
So, what is Steampunk?
Over the past thirty years authors have been trying to combine the past with the present to create the 'modern' steampunk. This involves manipulating the Victorian industrial era with futuristic inventions largely run on steam. As a sub-genre that is still growing in popularity it is hard to know what elements are "necessary" for a story to be considered steampunk.Squiddoo focuses on three main points.
Language (Cockney and Victorian), Industrialization, Historicism
One Nanowrimo wannabe says
Air pirates and air ships are a big one! I'm personally a big fan of air ships. :) This isn't necessarily a literary steampunk thing, but goggles are very much a staple of steampunk costumes and aesthetic. As are gears on clothing and such. I use this to a slightly humorous affect. The gears on clothing in one of my WIPs has no purpose beyond the fact that the society finds it aesthetically pleasing and pretty, and people that dress up in steampunk nowadays do. People often use something called called "aether" in steampunk media that's sort of a vague thing. In classical beliefs (and the 19th century), it was thought that aether was some sort of substance that acted as a medium of transition of electromagnetic waves.
The thing about cliches and tropes is, they are cliches and tropes because they /work/ if you want to write in air pirates and what have you, go for it! Own it and make it your own.
This quote is from 2012, so this person might now be a Nanowrimo completer,
unlike me, who remains a wannabe.
Steampunk Canada has more info.
TV Tropes has suggestions on how to write Steampunk:
"Steampunk", of course, suggests steam-driven technology, so you will need to include this in your story. In a broader sense, steampunk also usually refers to a general attitude and aesthetic around that of the nineteenth century, incorporating the styles and fashions, attitudes and politics. This means, of course, that your story will either be set at some point within the Industrial Revolution or the nineteenth century, an Alternate History which spun off from this point or another world which is based on these stylings....Steampunk tends to run on Rule Of Cool; in actuality, a lot of steampunk technologies (particularly those which attempt to replicate modern technologies such as the computer) would have been massive, consumed unsustainable amounts of fuel and would probably have ultimately been unworkable (there's a reason in real life the human race switched from steam to oil and gas). This, of course, does not mean that your story cannot work — it does, however, mean that you need to make sure you get the reader's Willing Suspension of Disbelief on side. In general, as it's such a fantastic genre, the audience will accept quite a lot — but this does not mean they will accept absolutely anything.Steampunk is also an aesthetic. Technology affects the world around us in great ways, and a world based on steampunk technologies would be quite different in terms of politics, attitudes, fashions, etc. You need to keep this in mind; your reader will not be convinced if you simply transplant modern society with a slightly steampunk makeover.
I attempted my own list of tropes or requirements for Steampunk before I began research so lets see how mine compares:
- Steam powered engines: train, dirigible, ornithopter, etc
- Above, either biomimickry or loud, clanky, dirty, dangerous massive machines
- Victorian settings, styles, classes: nobility travel with huge amounts of luggage and servants,combination of guns and swords, repressed emotions and sexuality, flowing booze and copious amounts of food
- Brass, steel, leather, wood construction, goggles and gears
- Magic or Magic/science - Mesmer's hypnosis, Frankenstein, ouija boards.
Added the next day:
Boingboing reviews a book on Steampunk Device making. Amazon link here.
Added March 14, 2014, Steampunk 101.