It's frustrating to see a trend emerging, and not really know what to call it. I've been seeing more and more pseudo-Victorian stuff emerging, from design to books to... well you'll see what else.
But now, Eureka! There is a name for it all: Steampunk. I didn't make it up. The term has been around since the 1980s, I just had never heard of it. More fool me.
So what actually is steampunk? Well it is similar to cyberpunk, but slightly more positive, less dystopian. Think H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, that sort of thing.
For writers of books such as The Glass Books of The Dream Eaters (very good if you haven't read it) and Lyra's world as envisioned by Philip Pullman, it means a chance to have heroes escape in dirigibles and drive steam powered cars, to invent new sciences and give your own names to existing ones. It seems largely to be an extension of creating worlds similar to our own, in which other paths were taken.
Jeepers, it turns out the culture even has its own magazine. Fantastic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start pretending I'm an effete Sherlock Holmes-type with an eye for the dark arts and the flesh pits of imaginary civilizations, but it is satisfying to see how it has galvanised so many others. Have a look at some favourites:
A new vogue of reworking Star Wars characters in a steam punk style (here are Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars, one of many given a full makeover on Eric Poulton's blog).
And of course this hilarious bike - though I'm not entirely sure about the rider's costume:
Tom Sepe, who made it, calls it a motorbike. I think it's more of a noisy scooter. See how he made it here.