Adding Some Steam to Storytelling

The growing steampunk movement has long followed the traditional and formal literary styles of the author of the written, amid recreations, gadgets, gears, and dystopian angst (real or imagined) the oral story has been largely unrecognized. Yet, the stories abound, the flights of imagination, creativity, vision, and possibilities fly higher overhead than any airship.

Can the storyteller….long used to crafting the oral story to carry imaginations into other worlds….further expand and develop the oral story in an alternate reality, following the steampunk universe as it expands, and stretching the creative boundaries to new levels?

The challenge is to understand the essence of steampunk as not only a sub-genre of science fiction but also as part of a phenomenon which has occurred for every millennium and during many major shifts of society. This return to the past occurs repeatedly as a means of relocating the social order. A reboot as it were. It can be the social equivalent of the child in the pool who returns to the sanctuary of the side after a brief foray into the deeper waters of uncertainty.

The novel thing about steampunk is the aggressive willingness to reach into a place in the past and then “tinker” with it to reimagine (or invent) a model of life based on the “what if this had happened…..”

The emergence of this movement evidences certain values: a perceived lack of creative expression, of civility, and graciousness in society. Also is a distinct demonstration of the need for play in people of all ages and stages.

For most oral storytellers, this is not too unfamiliar. The greatest challenge may be in loosening up and having fun in ways that challenge the storytelling in novel ways.  (

A workshop is being planned to introduce storytellers to this genre and provide tips and guides for making the tellers storytelling ‘steam powered.’

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