Steampunk is a storytelling genre that features a mix of craftmanship and technology based on Victorian times – but more fun.
Steampunk Earth Day is on 30 October 2010 – it’s a lot like Earth Hour, but with more options (and better outfits). It’s G-rated, and fully international, since you play along (literally) at home. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150654784970718
It often features technology that doesn’t exist or isn’t used today, especially steam powered tech. That technology is often on a huge scale (eg Philip Reeve’s “Mortal Engines” series – definitely not G or PG rated, fyi). It also often features Victorianesque class structure (Richard Harland’s “Worldshaker” is an excellent – and funny – example) because it’s inspired by the industrialisation era of Britain (though steampunk is, clearly, a lot more fun that its historical equivalent). Oh, and there are lots of Mad Scientists (as in the “Girl Genius” online comic series) and GREAT outfits (as in Philip Reeve’s “Larklight” series, my favourite kids’ series ever). Side note: Philip Reeve and the Foglios (makers of “Girl Genius”) both say they’re not steampunk – they’re “Victorian inspired” or “gaslamp fantasy”.
Steampunk movies use a palette of black, grey and coppery tones (as in “Sherlock Holmes”).
The current twittertale, “Cloud Wars”, is steampunk only in the sense that an old technology (one-person planes) are used, and that the science (cloud seeding) is vital to the plot. I promise to get better at steampunk with time (although twitter doesn’t lend itself to rich world-building).
Here’s some pretty pictures (and their websites, which I haven’t read so are not rated here):