I’ve been pondering all things steampunk as of late, after my husband and I have had some rather humorous conversations. He showed me the recent Merlin Mann sketch about steampunk, and I saw this morning that Jake Von Slatt had added his two gears.

I’ve got to say my money is in Jake’s corner; I do don my hat to you, sir.

So, how hard core do you have to be to be considered steampunk? How absolutely down to the every detail do you have to remain to keep the cred?

I’m not sure. I’ve played around with the idea of some of my characters working on an internal combustion engine–nothing large, mind you, but on a small scale–does that kick me out of the club?

I’ll say this: I didn’t start out writing a steampunk novel. It’s not like I was sitting in my workshop, pondering the inner workings of a steam-powered flying machine. In fact, I started out wanting to write a fantasy Western, and as a result (and admittedly, probably from reading much too much BoingBoing) realized that much of what I was doing was, in fact, steampunk.

So let’s review the following.

  • Steampowered machines. Check.
  • Goggles. Check.
  • A resident tinkerer/mad scientist sort. Check.
  • Victorian sensibilities. Check.

While the list is far from exhaustive, I think it does establish that at least my novel has steampunk themes–though, like I said, I certainly can’t pretend to be one of the Cool Kids who’ve been on to this for quite some time.

I’m not an engineer. I’m not a technician. I can’t for the life of me make sense of steam-based engines. But I can, I believe, tell a good story.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a book to write.