SF/F Genre Glossary

This is the first of the Science Fiction / Fantasy Genre Glossary Project posts! Wow that’s a mouthful. For the complete genre index click here.

steampunk bike
Tutorial by Crabfu: How to draw steampunk machines

What is Steampunk?

A genre where stories are set in a Victorian, or Edwardian, inspired alternate reality where steam power is still widely used. Steampunk stories can also be set in a fantasy world that features 19th century inspired technology. The genre combines elements of fantasy and science fiction.

The Aesthetic

It’s more than just a genre.

Contrary to science fiction where the mechanics are obscured from view, the steampunk aesthetic frequently showcases the inner workings of machines. Moving gears such as clockwork are often exposed. Functionality is evident in design. There is also an emphasis on craftsmanship and the handmade.

Common materials include polished brass, iron, wood, and leather.

Clothing also draws from the do-it-yourself, handmade, movement. Historical elements such as corsets, parasols, and top hats are borrowed then mixed with more modern elements.

steampunk fashion
via outsapop.com

So that’s a quick guide to steampunk. Feel free to add and append this definition in the comments!


SF/F Genre Glossary

Dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, slip stream, paranormal? Is it all making your head spin? This is a reference page intended to provide basic working definitions and examples of SF/F subgenres.

Welcome to the
Speculative Fiction Genre Glossary Project

In which I attempt to define…stuff.

This list will be updated regularly. Terms are listed in alphabetical order.

Cross Genre



Science Fiction



The Happy Writer, Writing Discussion

It used to be that I could take any topic, and an hour or two later, like magic, I’d have a little story in my hands. It was that simple.

These days I feel like I’m learning to write all over again. I’m hacking apart the words with a steak knife and fitting them back together with duct tape. It’s a complete mess.

What happened? Suddenly I’m not just writing to entertain my friends or to please myself. I’ve wandered out of my comfort zone and my god there’s a big world outside.

We all suck when we start out.

Myra McEntire tells it like it is. Don’t listen to me. The “Suck It” video by Maureen Johnson is awesome.

But maybe you really don’t suck at all.

Nathan Bransford talks about the Dunning-Kruger effect. There’s also the impostor syndrome. The willpower engine explains this one.

But if you’re just starting out, you probably really do suck. That’s not a bad thing. It just means there’s more to learn.

And to cap off today’s musings, a pocket sized, honest to goodness, true story.

“Put me in the intermediate class.” E said.
“Are you sure?” I replied. “You’ve only skated a couple times. Do you even know how to stop?”
“Yeah. It should be easy.”
“OK, if you say so…”

One class later.

“I was the worst guy out there! I couldn’t even keep up! Can they transfer me to the beginners class?  I don’t even know how to stop.”
“I thought you said you did!”
“Yeah but only by grabbing the walls.”