by Nancy DeWitt
I stopped by the museum yesterday only to find a bevy of guys in the shop huddled together, looking confused and mumbling about some "Steampunkers" that were visiting. My ears really perked up at this, as I had come across the term Steampunk on eBay way back when I first started shopping for vintage clothing for us to wear while driving cars. It was usually associated with aviator-type goggles but also the occasional Edwardian hat or pair of granny boots. I wrongly assumed it was a twist on the Gothic fashion trend favored by the kids dressed in all-black and chains that we see at the local malls.
Before I ventured out to greet our intriguing visitors, we tottered over to Willy's computer for a little Google action. Steampunk is actually pretty fascinating. Wikipedia calls it "A sub-genre of science fiction..., frequently featuring elements of fantasy or alternate history, that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used - usually the 19th century - but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne..." Steampunk fans usually dress in "Neo-Victorian" fashions and get together to discuss literature and technology, sip tea (really!) and essentially bring a Victorian imagination to life. No wonder they had come to our museum!
Meet the "Queen's Arctic Expeditionary Force," a delightful group of intellectuals who had a blast visiting the museum. We're glad they stopped by and hope to see them again, especially when we fire up a steam car this summer.
Steampunk in Alaska - who'd a thunk?