While Steampunk worlds have their similariets, each can be very different from the last. As the author of Bodacious Creed, I refer to his world as the Creedverse. It has its own scientific rules and some small deviations from history, mentioned below.
In the real world, history was unfair to Nicola Tesla, who was surely one of the most intelligent men in history. Everyone learns about Thomas Edison, who sabotaged Tesla's work with electricity, but Tesla has mostly gone forgotten. In the Creedverse, Tesla gets the credit for inventing the light bulb years before Edison could, and invented the first wireless technology.
The Luminiferous Ether
During the Victorian era, scientists speculated that space may be made of a substance, similar to air or water, that ships might be able to navigate, and they called it the Luminiferous Ether. In the Creedverse, even planets, but interacts with nothing. It can also be tapped as low-level energy that can enliven recently dead tissues.
The term "robot" did not come into use into the twentieth century, so the mechanical men in the Creedverse are officially called "automatons." In the Creedverse, most people just call them "steelies," and they serve a number of functions, for those who can afford them, from security to medical assistance. Unlike many steampunk automata, however, these steelies have organic brains and nerves that connect with wires and motors in their bodies.
The Creedverse is in the middle of a rapid technology boom. Bodacious Creed takes place in 1876. In the last few years, many have begun to use light bulbs, refrigerators, and more. Thanks to the company Morgan's Automata, which focuses almost exclusively on steelies and does not share its secrets, automata are already far ahead of other technological advancements.
Santa Cruz, California
I'll be the first to admit that the Santa Cruz, California in the Creedverse doesn't much resemble historial Santa Cruz in 1876. I thought it would be more fun for my readers if it had similarities to Santa Cruz today instead. This fictional Santa Cruz had a major local gold rush in the 1850s, which helped to quickly build up the city, and though the gold mines are now empty, Santa Cruz and San Francisco are two major business and technology centers. Astute readers will recognize the fictional Railroad Flats as the modern city's Beach Flats, and the Creedverse restaurant El Cuarto Trascero as the steak restaurant The Hindquarter.