The venerable Bruce Sterling, sci-fi writer and co-author of “The Difference Engine” (with William Gibson), has written a marvelous little essay on the subject of steampunk, not only speaking to the literary genre fans, but to the craftsmen, costumers, and lifestyle practitioners as well! He also mentions the social and technological values of embracing the steampunk “do-it-yourself” mentality.
“Steampunk’s key lessons are not about the past. They are about the instability and obsolescence of our own times. A host of objects and services that we see each day all around us are not sustainable. They will surely vanish, just as “Gone With the Wind” like Scarlett O’Hara’s evil slave-based economy. Once they’re gone, they’ll seem every bit as weird and archaic as top hats, crinolines, magic lanterns, clockwork automatons, absinthe, walking-sticks and paper-scrolled player pianos.”
Read his complete essay: The User’s Guide to Steampunk.