Steampunk = Victorian science fiction.
If the apocalypse were to have happened at the tail-end of the Victorian era, what would it and the aftermath look like? What would you look like? What would be your purpose?
“Contrary to the popular belief that Steampunk is whatever you want it to be and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what is or isn’t Steampunk, the genre can be boiled down to 4 words: Victorian-era science fiction. That’s all it is, the word “steam” relates to the Victorian era and the industrial revolution where steam power was at its peak.
Science fiction authors of the era such as Jules Verne, author of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days, and H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine, War of The Worlds, and The Invisible Man, provided a lot of the themes and aesthetics for Steampunk. Examples include sea beasts from 20,000 Leagues, the concept of time travel from Time Machine, etc. ” The Belfry
Here is a very simplified explainer by John Conway, “What Is the Origin of Steampunk?”, followed by G.D. Falksen’s “Steampunk 101.” Then, when you’re ready. you can sink your teeth into this bad boy: The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature. Don’t forget the PBS perspective.