Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
Being a gentleman is not a label, but rather a way of life, bred into the blood and bones of these gentlemen of unquestionable principles. Last week I posted about women of strong moral character. This week it is the gents’ turn.
Inspired by pages of steampunk tropes, I wanted to compile a list of common characters found in steampunk speculative fiction and media. I am working on additional groups for ladies and gents who are more working class, the engineers and gadgeteers as well as the journalists and detectives. Don’t forget the rakes, rogues, treasure hunters, and drifters!
If you have suggestions of archtypes to add or corrections that need to be made, please feel free to let me know in the comments. If you’d like to see more lists like this, also please let me know. Thanks!
Adventurer Archaeologist – Prehistoric civilizations rose and fell, and the Adventurer Archaeologist wants to know why. He wants to know the truth about ancient cultures and cares about preserving his discoveries for additional research. Antiquarians and historians who left their libraries for investigation in the field would fall into this category. Often bookish but with a surprising capacity for daring when relics are at stake, the Adventurer Archaeologist is desires knowledge of the past in order to improve the future.
Aeronaut – He is a civilian pilot, although he may have previously served in the military, and often learned his flying skills as a boy. He would stay airborne forever if he could and enjoys flying for its own sake. When given the opportunity to fly a new aircraft or to a new destination, the Aeronaut rarely declines the offer. He has a good heart and will fly passengers for free when they are short on funds.
Ambassador – Cultured and well-connected, the Ambassador is responsible for maintaining a healthy relationship between the host country and the country he represents. He is well-versed in local customs and the political stage. He chooses diplomacy and negotiations over more reckless tactics, often with the calculated calm of a chess master. When lines of communication fail, the Ambassador takes action to protect his country from external threats. He is a patriot working abroad in the best interests of his mother country.
Bold Explorer – The horizon beckons, and the Bold Explorer answers. Venturing into brave new worlds can be dangerous and not for the faint of heart, but he is fearless in the face of the unknown. His motivations are diverse, and he does not worry about consequences. The Bold Explorer may want the fame or fortune that follows an exceptional discovery. He might be on a quest for an artifact of renown or seeking the truth about a legendary city. He uses a combination of wits and bravado to achieve his goals. Sometimes alone or often with a trusty crew, the Bold Explorer is driven by discovery and the promise of exotic new lands.
Captain – He is the commanding officer of an airship or ocean-going vessel, responsible for the well-being of his crew and the maintenance of his ship. The Captain is the man in charge, the master of his mobile domain. He is willing to go down with the ship.
Gentleman Adventurer – Independently wealthy and a confirmed bachelor, the Gentleman Adventurer has a thirst for adventure unable to be sated in the refined drawing rooms and gentlemen’s clubs of his peers. He can be found at his boxing club or hunting on his estate, but he is most comfortable when traveling abroad. Nothing is worse than idleness, and he will go to extreme, occasionally absurd lengths to avoid being bored. Once he hears about a worthy or intriguing opportunity, nothing can dissuade the headstrong man from his goal. While he is socially competent, often aided by hyper-competent valet, the Gentleman Adventurer is direct and unapologetic in his opinions, sometimes portraying the bigotry and ignorance of his social class.
Gentleman Scholar – Educated and personable, the Gentleman Scholar manages to be an intellectual while still observing the social morays of Victorian life. He is fluent in exotic or dead languages and can quote a circumstance-relevant anecdote for the amusement of his peers. He is socially connected and attends events in appropriate, impeccably-tailored attire, as comfortable in a top hat and tails as he is in his adventuring gear. He is gracious and composed, equally skilled as a host or as an entertaining guest and capable of reading poetry or playing chess with equal aplomb. The Gentleman Scholar maintains a mature, dignified demeanor whether or not he is older than his peers, and is primarily concerned with the human side of any equation.
Military Officer – Loyal to Queen and country, his upper class upbringing and military academy education have not made him a stranger to hardship. He would not ask his men to do anything he would not do himself and earns their loyalty. The Military Officer is a proud member of the Army or Navy, and maintains a sense of propriety no matter how dire the situation. Fully capable of meeting the demands of combat, he avoids fighting when possible and never throws the first punch. His honor is his life, and he believes equally in fairness and justice to compatriots as well as enemies. When his honor or a lady’s honor is questioned, the Military Officer will not hesitate to challenge the offender to a duel.
Scientist – He is an absent-minded professor more concerned with abstract equations or scientific hypotheses than the human beings around him. Characterized by his intellectualism and potentially by his insufferable genius, the Scientist is brilliant but socially awkward in all but the most academic of environments. He us unconcerned with his appearance, often wild-haired and bespectacled, and may be an intractable creature of habit. He would not hurt a fly, but is often unmindful of its presence, sometimes suffering setback from his lack of foresight.