Steampunk Factor Rubric:
This is an adaptation of Steampunk Scholar's Steampunk Factor Rubric. Now one may argue that such a system fits scientific romance about as well as an 15th c. knight does a penny farthing. But, I'm going to use it to keep some semblance of uniformity through my reviews. So without further ado...
Technofantasy: up to 30 points
(ok, you hardcore F/SF types will have a heyday with these generalizations, ok. I can live with that) Technofantasy is fairytale in the trappings of science fiction. Gears, computers, spaceships, laser swords, etc. are just window dressing and can be easily dispensed with. It's the story that matters. This is different than Hard science fiction for which the story and technology must be extrapolatable from real-world physics. Soft science fiction doesn't care about the physics, but the science setting is inextricable from the story (que technobabble).
Steampunk Scholar rates ideal steampunk as fairly high in the technofantasy. I do not like this. I have also not read enough steampunk to actually have a supportable opinion either way. So for now, high technofantasy rates high in the rubric.
Neo-Victorianism: up to 30 points
This one is fairly uncontroversial to me. Steampunk must be set in, or evoke a strong feeling of the 19th and early twentieth centuries. For real world scenarios this means it should be set between the late regency period (1820-ish) through the Great War (1917). While practical steam power was definitely used in the late 18th c., the enlightenment, napoleonic era, and early regency have a different feel to me. Now some early inventors, like Robert Fulton who first commercialized the Steamboat, and built a submarine for Napoleon (the Nautilus- How much more Shiny can you get!?!!) deserve a place among the Steam Pantheon amongst the likes of Babbage, Lovelace, Verne and Tesla, he is of the elder gods to me. It really isn't steam power that drive steampunk for me, it is a synthesis of enlightenment science and the romantic's nostalgia that I think seals the deal for me. And it is not until the enlightenment and the romantic periods are over that the synthesis can be forged.
As for the end, the synthesis dies in the trenches of the Great War, that is final. (Unless the changes of steampunk are so thorough, as in Leviathan, that they defy/define the war itself.)
Now what of other world and non-eurocentric steampunk? I don't know, I will have to read some and see how it affects the feeling.
Retrofuturism: up to 30 points
I think the best treatment of this I have found is on the Wikipedia article, so I will quote:
Retro-futurism incorporates two overlapping trends which may be summarized as the future as seen from the past and the past as seen from the future.
The first trend, retro-futurism proper, is directly inspired by the imagined future which existed in the minds of writers, artists, and filmmakers in the pre-1960 period who attempted to predict the future, either in serious projections of existing technology or in science fiction novels and stories. Such futuristic visions are refurbished and updated for the present, and offer a nostalgic, counterfactual image of what the future might have been, but is not.
The second trend is the inverse of the first: futuristic retro. It started with the retro appeal of old styles of art, clothing, mores, and then grafts modern or futuristic technologies onto it, creating a mélange of past, present, and future elements. Steampunk, a term applying both to the retrojection of futuristic technology into an alternative Victorian age, and the application of neo-Victorian styles to modern technology, is a highly successful version of this second trend.
I'm going to stick with that, if it deals with retrofuturism or futuristic retro, it's going to get a high rating.
Miscellaneous: 10 points
My first couple attempts were missing something. It seems I have decided to go to a 100 point scale to make it easier to come up with a percentage. The last ten points is a miscellaneous category to fit the intangibles that do not readily work into the first three categories. I will justify the points with at least a litt bit of explanation.
Steampunk Score: Each factor is given a 30 point score and rated on a percentage. Anything above a 50% will be considered steampunk, anything above 75% is very steampunk, and higher is better, but you get the picture.
**Notes: I am tweaking this system as I go along to better fit the books I'm reading, I will update older reviews score to any updates to the system. **