The Future can be a confusing part of steampunk. Not everyone realises what an integral part of the culture it is. We all know that science fiction is one of the foundations, but still people argue that steampunk ends at the World Wars. If that’s the case, then there can be no future for steampunk. I don’t mean that literally, I mean there can be no steampunks from or in the future. Obviously science fiction doesn’t just mean the future, however this part of time is largely ignored.
But why? Why can’t there be steampunks from the 25th century? Why can’t there be deep space explorers in Pith Helmets and Safari suits flying solid brass Gravimetric Power Drive space ships? Or time travelling steampunks from the 31st century looking to correct an erroneous error that occurred in the late 19th century? It seems odd that a people in a community so creative and imaginative would argue that it can’t go beyond the middle of the 20th century.
Steampunk is a derivative of Cyberpunk which is typically – though not exclusively – set in a dystopian future. It seems odd that a subculture that is inspired by a futuristic themed genre then doesn’t use it to its full advantage. Using the future as inspiration should really be easy because no-one can call you out on whether something is realistic or not. The limits of steampunk should be the limits of your imagination. As long as we don’t try to steal other culture’s designs and aesthetics, there’s no reason why we can’t be from all over various parts of time.
I understand that by adapting modern day items to look like they’re from the Victorian age essentially makes it a futuristic item from a Victorian point of view, but we’re not Victorians. We’re steampunks and we live in the modern world. Therefore the future – our future – can incorporate space travel, time travel, aliens, wormholes and event horizon. In fact because you’re free to interpret steampunk as you please, it can incorporate whatever you want.
If you’re familiar with futuretimeline.net, you’ll know it’s a website that projects what tomorrow’s inventions will be based on today’s discoveries. It then goes on to predict further inventions based on those inventions and before long it suggests what humans will do and what we’ll evolve into in the far flung edges of the future. Can you imagine what a steampunk universe would be like if it followed a similar timeline? What a fascinating place it would be.