I’ve been in the zone lately, while writing my current WIPs. As I have, I began to think about the fact I haven’t recently written about any “Steampunk” technology lately. Today I remedy that a bit.
“Goggles, those are Steampunk, right?” I assume that more experienced authors and aficionados of the Steampunk genre are asked this type of question often, especially when speaking with new fans if the genre. I found myself asking this type of question as I first attempted to understand the genre.
But, if you take a step back, take a deep breath, and actually think about it, the question is silly. With the right spin, anything can be Steampunk if you write it that way. It is like asking a horror writer, “is an umbrella horror?” It is if your antagonist is using it to murder people.
Goggles can be Steampunk. They could be the simple eyepieces to protect an Airship eyes from the whipping winds high in the sky; perhaps they are intricate devices with
Magnifying capabilities. Perhaps an eccentric inventor uses this type of eyewear to better see the tiny parts of their newest Clockwork masterpiece.
Beyond goggles, there are other pieces of technology that can be used within a Steampunk tale.
The telescope, or spyglass can be indispensable whether your characters sail the high seas, or the friendly skies. Your airship captain stands on the deck of their ship, spyglass trained on the mysterious, foreboding rock formation on the horizon. Will it be a safe place to land while they hide from the Pirates chasing them? Or will there be dangers even more perilous than the buccaneers in pursuit?
One of my favorite stories when I was first reading full length novels, was Treasure Island. For that reason alone, I suppose I have a soft spot for anything related to high seas adventure. Heck, I even watched Pirates of the Caribbean at least a couple dozen times (only the first one. The sequels make my dignity hurt).
A versatile tool in bit reality and in fiction, the spyglass or telescope could also be used to observe the skies. Galileo made these tools famous in his exploration of the heavens, learning the secrets of the universe. Perhaps your hero discovers a fleet of ships coming from outer space, and must warn a disbelieving public of an impending invasion.
In my own WIP, a spyglass is used a few times, while my protagonist scans the horizon, wary of the possibility of an attack.
Doctors and scientists can be the heroic protagonists in your dark, dystopian world. Your plucky biologist can discover that the cause of the recent rash of vampirism cases is a microbe attacking the red blood cells.
A genius medical student discovers a new element while examining soil samples from the construction site of the newest air field. Using her trusty microscope she examines its structure, and sees how it reacts with air and water. It releases incredible amounts of energy when exposed to specific amounts of each. Her discovery introduces radiation into the age of steam.
As I sit here, it is becoming increasingly apparent that as long as you can justify its existence within the reality of your Steampunk novel, you can make nearly anything Steampunk. Even a toaster.