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Steampunk, a term coined by analogy to cyberpunk, to indicate a modern SF sub-genre, first appeared in a letter by K. W. Jeter in the April 1987 issue of Locus.

The term refers to SF stories that take place against a 19th-century background, usually involving steam-powered machinery. However, it has expanded into a fringe fandom that encompasses art, costumes and even home decor, and now has its own specialty conventions.

Writers who have written steampunk stories include Howard Waldrop, Steven Utley, James P. Blaylock, K. W. Jeter, Tim Powers, Bruce Sterling, and William Gibson. The latter two writers are also closely identified with cyberpunk SF. More recent steampunk works include Rudy Rucker's The Hollow Earth, Paul Di Filippo's The Steampunk Trilogy and Bec McMaster’s “London Steampunk” and “Blueblood Conspiracy” series.

Victorian London is often the setting for steampunk stories.

Before the name was invented, there were precursors in early science fiction, such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Doings of Raffles Haw” (1891), as well as The Wild, Wild West TV show.

SF Encyclopedia entry (IA)

See also: Steam Engine Time.

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