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Steampunk is a style of fiction having to do with a semi-fictional world where old machinery from the Victorian 19th century is still being used. Technologies that were new or important to the Victorians, such as steam power, clockwork, or electricity, are big themes in steampunk.
The earliest inspirations for steampunk as a literary genre come from the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Both wrote science fiction set in their own times (the late 1800s) that featured advanced technology powered by steam, hence the “steam” in steampunk, and clockwork, including flying machines, submarines, and time machines.
The steampunk aesthetic tends to be loosely based on the Victorian era and the American Wild West and features anachronistic technology.