"Steampunk has elements of science fiction and fantasy, and involves a setting where steam power is involved, often located in a Victorian or Wild West type world," said librarian Heather Richards. "This genre was largely unfamiliar to the students, but a lot of them had actually read steampunk books not realizing that this was what they were reading."
According to Richards, steampunk has recently become very popular among fantasy and science fiction enthusiasts and some people who looked at the display commented that they were suddenly noticing Halloween costumes that fell into the category.
Modern steampunk works are often set in a post-apocalyptic future in which steam power has regained mainstream usage. Alternatively, they are set in a fantasy or parallel time period, but generally include a Victorian theme.
Like similar works of fiction by Jules Verne or H. G. Wells, the plot includes futuristic inventions as might have been imagined via the possibilities of the writer's time.
The term itself was coined during the 1980s and 1990s, but now refers to many works of fiction which predate the name of the genre. Even modern film has made a nod to steampunk - with the final scene of Back to the Future III indicating that scientist Emmett Brown had adapted the technology of the 1990s in a steam-powered train time machine which would allow him to escape from the 1880s.
Because of the popularity of the genre a growing trend hopes to establish steampunk as a culture, lifestyle and philosophy, typically marked by optimism about human potential.