You’re at work, and someone asks you how you spent your weekend. If you spent it as I did, you tell them you were engrossed in Steampunk activities and that you had a blast.
And then, the question that we’ve all been asked invariably surfaces. “What’s Steampunk?”
And suddenly, you have to change mental gears from talking about how much fun you had to defining what it is you were doing in the first place.
I’ve had this happen to me far too many times. My eyes get big. I start gesticulating wildly as though the perfect definition is flitting around me and all I have to do is snatch it from thin air. I stutter as I struggle for a cohesive response knowing that the explanation isn’t likely to make much sense to my listener.
It’s an all around messy ordeal which seems to leave both me, and my listener confused.
There’s lots of different ways to define Steampunk and (equally important in my view) to present it to your listener in a way that they will be able to understand and relate to the concept you are describing.
Fortunately, Matthew Delman of Free the Princess has the groundwork for an answer. In his Explaining Steampunk: A Practical Guide, Delman offers a comprehensive view of different mediums through which to approach Steampunk, especially geared to those who have little knowledge of science fiction genres.
I think I’m going to need to study this, not because I don’t have my own definition of Steampunk, but because it’s always useful to find examples people have experienced outside of the term itself.