It is generally associated with science fiction, but the original term came from Charles Fort, who became famous writing books about showers of frogs when the nearest lake was ten miles away, or spontaneous combustion of drunks, leaving only some fat woman's foot and only lighting scorching the bed. I have one of his books, known as Wild Talents.
Steam Engine Time is a rather important concept. Basically it's the observation that when technology gets advanced enough, or ideas in general, suddenly there are a bunch of people independently discovering or creating the same thing. This is the rule rather than the exception.
As an example, Americans think Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. In other countries someone else has taken that honor. In reality, there were about 25 people simultaneously working on lightbulbs.
All this means Nobel Prizes are dubious at best. When six men are working on the same thing, how can only one get the prize? Because he beat the rest by a day? The "indispensable geniis" is pretty much a myth. About the only one I can think of is Stephen Hawking - and what's he? Once every 500 years?
For the most part, great men are bad men, as Lord Acton noted. Most people know a lot more about genocidal tyrants than men who created great things.
The Manosphere is an example of Steam Engine Time. It exists only because the internet finally got advanced enough - which really didn't happen until about 2000 - to support it.
I can remember back in the middle '80s modems were cradles you put the phone in (and the speed was measured in "bauds"), and they made unpleasant weird electronic noises because there was only dialup. And if you somehow got hold of someone on what passed for the "internet" in those days, it was the Sysop - system operator. Which was some guy sitting in front of his Radio Shack Tandy using Deskmate - both of which I used at work. That was after we upgraded from the Teleram, which was a gloried typewriter which stored info on one of those 5-inch disks. And was not set up to use a modem, so I used to run my disk up to the main office so I could use their modem to transfer my information into their computer - all of which were located in the same room.
Even with the internet, the Manosphere would have never existed with the depravations of leftistfeminism (one word) and all of the havoc it has created. The Manosphere is a reaction against the lunacy of lefistfeminism - but who could have predicted the combination of the internet and leftistfeminism getting so influential?
The first time I noticed the problem must have been 30 years ago, when I read an article by a retired professor at the University of Illinois, who pointed out the coming rage of men who were denied jobs because Affirmative Action means "white men need not apply."
And after that article - boom! Suddenly my friends were being denied jobs in favor of unqualified women and "minorities." I have seen this several times since then.
Trump is also an example of Steam Engine Time. Even if he loses (which I find very doubtful) there are others like him just waiting to go.
Of course the Republican party is blaming Trump for Trump instead of looking at what they have done to the people to drive so many people toward Trump.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties have no concept of Steam Engine Time, no more than they have the concept of personal responsibility. To them it's always someone else’s' fault - Trump, or those oh-so-stupid, ignorant people voting for him. But, no, it's never the fault of either party.
Steam Engine Time is part of the Zeitgeist - the spirit of the times. People go along with it a lot better than the "elites," who are dragged kicking and screaming into it because they don't want to use lose of their power or money or status.
Steam Engine Time is never planned. It never comes top-down, from the government. It arises from the bottom up - and even then it's unplanned. It just evolves, sometimes with amazing rapidity.
Currently Steam Engine Time is about Muslims being beaten and burned out in Europe, which is a prelude to their leaving before they're lined up against a wall and shot. It's about the closing of the borders in the U.S. along with the deportation of criminal Third Worlders.
These things were not planned, top-down from the government. They arose unplanned from the people. And there are no "leaders," just some people running to the front of the parade and yelling, "Follow me!"
People who pretend Steam Engine Time doesn't exist tend to get run over and squashed by it. And quite often, that's just fine with me.