Steampunk World Building

Is The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus Steampunk? What about Book of Eli?


A couple of blogs back I posted a list of media I think is steampunk. I am considering adding

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and The Book of Eli to that list. I'd like to hear arguments for and against. For example, does the fact that Imaginarium is set in the present day mean it is not steampunk?

This is more a question about the rules of World Building. Writers like Matt Delman have spelled out the essential ingredients to building a steampunk world.

But is steampunk really a world that can be defined by bits and props, as in, have brass goggles, therefore am steampunk? Or is it more a question of social stage?

Screenwriters think in terms of social stages: wilderness (Tarzan films), Village (Westerns) City (a world ruled by institutions) dystopic city (gangster films) and so on. I would argue that for a film (or a book, like The Windup Girl) to be steampunk, it doesn't need to be set in the Victorian Era per se but in a Victorian social stage. By that I mean, that the industrial age is on the upswing but not in full swing, most production is still artisanal, electricity is a rarity, and individual inventors can still influence the fate of future technology.

And I'm not sure that every steampunk plot has to involve invention, though that certainly helps.But I'll save the discussion of plot trops for a future blog. For now, lets focus on steampunk worldbuilding -- thoughts?