What is steampunk?
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that presents an alternative future or universe in which modern-day type inventions and conveniences are propelled by steam or inventive clockwork mechanisms. Dirigible airships are also iconic to steampunk.
Although the steampunk movement emerged in the 1980s, there have also been novels, movies, and television series which are today identified as steampunk (or containing steampunk elements) that predate the actual coining of the term.
The steampunk movement has inspired an entire subculture consisting of enthusiasts who meet at steampunk conventions and who tend to dress in fabulous fashions that meld a futuristic look with nineteenth century Victoriana. Much of steampunk fashion incorporates goggles (the apparent badge of the Victorian scientist/adventurer). Steampunk jewelry features clockwork motifs. The names in the following list include typical steampunk names (names which were in vogue during the latter half of the nineteenth century), character names appearing in popular works containing steampunk elements, and names of noted authors who have influenced the steampunk literary movement.
ALEKSANDAR – the young hero of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.
ARRONAX – from Professor Pierre Aronnax, a scientist in Jules Verne‘s, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
ARTEMUS – after Artemus Gordon, secret agent partner to Jim West in the television series and movie, The Wild, Wild West.
BLAYLOCK – a name honoring early steampunk author James P. Blaylock.
BRISCO – the cowboy hero in the television series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
IVAN (pronounced ee-VAHN) – from Ivan Dragomiloff, the anti-hero (played by Oliver Reed) in the movie, The Assassination Bureau.
JETER – a name honoring science fiction author K.W. Jeter, who coined the term “steampunk.”
JULES – a name honoring author Jules Verne. Also the name of one of Doc Brown‘s sons in the movie Back to the Future, Part III.
LANGDON – after Langdon St. Ives, a scientist and adventurer-explorer who appears in a number of popular steampunk stories by author James P. Blaylock.
NEMO – the anti-hero and genius captain of the fantastic submarine in Jules Verne‘s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Unfortunately, many people today will probably associate this name with the Disney movie Finding Nemo.
OSWALD – from Oswald Bastable, a British army captain in author Michael Morcock’s The Warlord of the Air.
PHILEAS – from Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne‘s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.
QUATERMAIN – from Allan Quatermain, a main character in the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as inspired by the character from the novels of H. Rider Haggard.
RAY – from James “Ray” Steam, an inventor’s son living in 19th century England, in Katsuhiro Otomo’s acclaimed animated steampunk movie, Steamboy.
SOCRATES – after the character Socrates Poole in the television series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
VASH – after Vash the Stampede, the lead character in the Japanese “Old West” style steampunk manga and animated television series, Trigun.
VERNE – a name honoring author Jules Verne. Also the name of one of Doc Brown‘s sons in the movie Back to the Future, Part III.
AGATHA – from Agatha Heterodyne, the teenage heroine in Studio Foglio’s Hugo award-winning (2009 and 2010) online steampunk comic, Girl Genius. The Hugo Award is one of the highest achievement awards bestowed in the genre of science fiction.
ALEXIA – from Alexia Tarabotti, the protagonist in author Gail Carriger’s novel Soulless.
CLARA – Doc Brown‘s 19th century love interest in the movie Back to the Future, Part III.
DERYN – the young heroine of author Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.
LYRA – from Lyra Belacqua, the young protagonist in author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.
LUCREZIA – after Lucrezia Mongfish, former bad girl turned good, in Girl Genius.
MAGGIE – after Maggie DuBois, the intrepid journalist and suffragette (played by Natalie Wood) in the movie The Great Race.
OCTAVIA – after Octavia Pye, airship captain in author Katie MacAlister’s novel Steamed: A Steampunk Romance.
SCARLETT – from Scarlett O’Hara St. Jones, a major character in Japan’s acclaimed animated steampunk movie, Steamboy.
SONYA – from Sonya Winter, the intrepid journalist and suffragette (played by Diana Rigg) in the movie The Assassination Bureau.
VIOLETTA – the cute, red-headed minion of Agatha Heterodyne in the online steampunk comic Girl Genius.