In between legions of trekkies and kingdoms of renaissance festival enthusiasts lay a particular subset of devotees known as steampunks.
Dressed in Victorian-era garb with bustle skirts, mutton sleeves and top hats, steampunks also incorporate goggles and various piston-driven arm prosthetics into their attire. They might also have other gadgets slung over their shoulders, attached to utility belts or hidden in the pockets of their overcoats.
Gatherings of these imaginative folks are organized across the country, but one of the youngest and most unique conclaves is the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention in Tucson. Nestled beneath the Tucson Mountains this celebration of steampunk found a perfect home inside Old Tucson Studios, a sprawling western "town" where legends like John Wayne, William Holden and Angie Dickinson filmed many a movie and put Tucson on the map. Attendees, all firmly in character, feel at home roaming the dirt streets or tipping the elbow inside a rickety saloon. They are a special breed indeed.
What is steampunk?
Steampunks dig burrows into a rich soil of science fiction and history, creating stories and characters clad in brass and covered in rivets. The aesthetic, with its multitude of incarnations, is collectively referred to as steampunk. Themes of rebellion, exploration and American western justice also run deep in the genre.
"They call science fiction a speculative future, I call steampunk a speculative past," said Thomas Willeford , an author and speaker on the subject.
Imagine a Victorian world in which technology rapidly developed, but the jump from steam power to modern methods of electrical generation never occurred. In this world, long distance travel is accomplished with airships that resemble the zeppelins of the early 20th century, except the propellers are driven by steam engines. Gears and clockwork mechanisms control most devices and anything analog is considered hi-tech.
So where have you seen steampunk before? Click here for a list of books, movies and television shows that use a steampunk world, brought to you by The List: http://wfts.tv/124aa26
The List is a television news magazine that finds the intersection between the news of the day and pop culture on a nightly basis. It airs on your ABC Action News station weekdays at 7 p.m.