Through an Etsy forum yesterday I was introduced to the term steampunk, and for me, it was love at first sight.
I love learning new terms or going new places that seem to finish a sentence I've not been able to. Steampunk and dystopia really sum up a fascination I've had for as long as I can remember. And while I'm not a big comic book reader or a science fiction junkie, I tend to gravitate to nonfictional horror between seemingly normal human beings. I feel like this sort of horror was especially omnipresent in the industrial period, (whether it was or not) during the time of the steam engine and the beginnings of photography.
Here are some clarifications that helped me.
Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.
Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement (though both have considerable influence on each other). Apart from time period and level of technological development, the main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk is that steampunk settings usually tend to be less obviously dystopian than cyberpunk, or lack dystopian elements entirely.
Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual craftpersons into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.
A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, cackotopia, or anti-utopia) is the vision of a society that is the opposite of utopia. A dystopian society is one in which the conditions of life are miserable, characterized by human misery, poverty, oppression, violence, disease, and/or pollution.
Some academic circles distinguish between anti-utopia and dystopia. As in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopia does not pretend to be utopian, while an anti-utopia appears to be utopian or was intended to be so, but a fatal flaw or other factor has destroyed or twisted the intended utopian world or concept.
Now that's the ticket.