Portal:Steampunk

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Introduction

A short skirted woman stands with her hands on her hips behind a man who is down on one knee. They are in front of a reconstruction of a large train that appears to be steam-powered
A steampunk-themed photo

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and Neo-Victorian are different in that the Neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology and embraces the positive aspects of the Victorian era's culture and philosophy.

Steampunk most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retrofuturistic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or of the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt, and China Miéville.[original research?] Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as steam cannons, lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine.

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Half-length portrait of a woman wearing a black dress sitting on a red sofa. Her dress is off the shoulder, exposing her shoulders. The brush strokes are broad.
Richard Rothwell's portrait of Mary Shelley was shown at the Royal Academy in 1840, accompanied by lines from Percy Shelley's poem The Revolt of Islam calling her a "child of love and light".

Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Godwin's mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.

In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.

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In the news

  • February 24, 2012: Fashion News Tribune: This is Steampunk "Clockworks, corsets, airships and automatons are all remnants of another time. Together, they’re remnants of a time that never was but might have been — a time the steampunk movement is bringing to life...."
  • February 24, 2012: Art Pasadena Star News: Before steampunk, there was Richard Bunkall's imagination "A painting on the wall depicts a whale floating in the air through a building's entryway. Nearby is a highly detailed sculpture that plays with classic architecture. This is Richard Bunkall's world: a place that is ancient, yet futuristic at the same time..."
  • February 20, 2012: Fashion Ottawa Star Citizen: Steampunk and bondage and old Hollywood, oh my! "Dark and sensual, [And! Nguyen's ]work was arresting not only for his androgynous layering of cotton, PVC and chiffon, but his confronting use of Road Warrior-meets-bondage head gear and gas masks."
  • February 17, 2012: Art, Literature The Montreal Gazette: Steampunk in prose and pictures "it’s not surprising to find a new anthology of Poe’s tales and poetry, with steampunk-themed illustrations, marketed as Steampunk Poe."



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