At first, I was going to compare steampunk to a garden of some sort, but then I realized that doing so would imply that there are "weeds" that need to be pulled up by the roots and tossed onto a compost heap. Happily, I have yet to meet anyone in the steampunk community whom I thought needed to be removed from our pretty little flower beds. Oh yes, I'm sure that *someday* I'll run into someone who is "only in it for the cute chicks in corsets" but until then my highly positive opinion of steampunk will remain intact.
Well, let me see... Do I really need to provide a definition of steampunk? Perhaps I do, there are bound to be people out there on the far side of this computer monitor who have just found out that steampunk exists and who would like to know more about it. The thing is, I can't just say "Steampunk is..." and follow that beginning with some simple, trite statement that sums up the whole thing in a nice, neat little package. One thing that steampunk isn't- is simple.
There is the original literary genre of fiction that began the whole thing. Steampunk fiction is complicated enough as a concept to make me want to search out some expert, genius writer to sum it up in a couple of thousand words to post somewhere that other writing genius-types can read it and go "that's almost correct, but..." Yes, indeed, *but-* What people now think of as "steampunk" includes a lot more than the creative writing of near-dystopia futurism of alternate-history fiction. (My goodness, I came close to sounding almost educated there. Don't worry, I shan't stray too near that territory again!) I've seen articles written that claim that "steampunk" is just a sub-genre of cos-play, as if the fact that we choose to dress up in fancy clothes was the be-all-and-end-all of our existence. I've read other articles that dismiss us as "just a bunch of jaded Goths who came to think that there's more to life than mind-numbing depression." Oh, what a positive, free-thinker that author was, eh? I've also seen good people attempting to show we steampunks honestly as fun-loving, creative folks who fell in love with the idea that somewhere, some when, there exists a moment in alternate history wherein good manners, pretty clothes, do-it-yourself creativity, and classical Gothic romance fiction fell in love with Jules Verne & HG Wells- and then schemed to have their hybrid love-child brought into the world in a laboratory constructed by Nicola Tesla. Now *that* one is closer to what I know steampunk to have become in the past decade or so! LOL!
We're not just a bunch of Goths who have discovered that colors other than Black are actually real. Some of us were Goth at one time, I'm sure. Others of us were Creative Anachronists, or historical re-enactors, or just gadget-loving geeks. Some of us were other things as well. Things I lack the education to describe without sounding disrespectful, to be sure. I acknowledge that people who have been attracted to steampunk have come from a huge variety of other interests, to meet in a great melting-pot of creativity, talent, and a fun-loving spirit of community that I have grown to love under the wide-reaching umbrella of the term Steampunk.