|Written by Ala|
|Thursday, 08 April 2010 20:01|
In today’s episode of “What would have happened if…” I’d like to present you a child born from two unusual, yet basic questions.
What would have happened, if the Victorian era never ended?
What would have happened, if the internal combustion engine was never invented and we still had to use steam power?
The answer for both of these questions is simple: STEAMPUNK.
“Everything Jules Verne could have written.
Everything H.G. Wells should have written.
Everything A. Conan Doyle thought of but never published because it was too fantastic.”
Frank Chadwick, 1988
“Wacko Victorian fantasies.”
Whole thing began in the end of 19th century, when science-fiction writers, inspired by industrialization of cities and technical development, started creating their visions of the future. Unfortunately, they couldn’t take account of yet unknown materials or technologies so their inventions were based on the Victorian knowledge. Their ideas of the 21st century were surprisingly optimistic, forecasting fast progress of science, which was supposed to make our life easier. Well, it’s true in some parts, but we certainly don’t have flying policemen giving tickets to pilots breaking air traffic regulations or huge machines in schools, which are pouring knowledge to our heads through special headphones (it’s a pity!).
After the cyberpunk literature was born in the eighties of the 20th century, writer Kevin Wayne Jeter mixed cyberpunk’s dystopian future world and technology with nostalgic, romantic past of steam power and Victorian Era. That new stream of science-fiction was showing the alternate history, located in 19th century with 21st century’s technology, BUT made only with materials and energy sources already existing in Victorian Era. And so we have the difference engine instead of the computer. The airship instead of the airplane. Cyborgs, weapons, vehicles, lifts which can take you to the Moon, anything you can possibly imagine is fine, as long as it works by steam power.
“With a crew of drunken pilots, we're the only Airship Pirates”
Of course steampunk movement didn’t content itself with just a couple of books. There are graphic novels about Victorian gentlemen in top hats saving the world (e.g. “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”), films using steampunk motives (e.g. “Back to the Future”, “Wild Wild West”), musicians (e.g. Abney Park, Dr Steel), the famous serial’s parody – “Steam Trek”. Even Hayao Miyazaki animated films can be considered partly steampunk (e.g. “Howl’s Moving Castle”). So it wasn’t a surprise when steampunk became a rightful subculture, spread mostly owing to the Goths, always in love with every form of Neo-Victorianism, and Japanese youth, opened to every form of unusual look. For some people steampunk became a way of living, what makes the steampunk conventions unforgettable events.
Do It Yourself.
If you see leather, wood and brass or iron, in the colours of brown and gold, maybe with the motive of gears and cogs, making the impression of an old style fashion – just now you are looking at the steampunk gadgets. What is characteristic for them, it’s that they are almost all hand-made. And making jewellery or sewing Victorian clothes is as easy as pie compared to what a devoted steampunker can make from his computer case or keyboard. However, electrolytic machining, brass cutting, using chemicals, plating, etching etc. are not things you can do at home without special devices, not to mention special training. Therefore if you want a touch of steampunk in your life, let’s stick to the clothes and goggles (there is no steampunk without goggles, remember that).
Lately, there was an exhibition of Steampunk art objects in the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, held from October 2009 to February 2010. You can see the photos from it on exhibition’s website, first link from the list below.
If I managed to bring you to the Dark Side of the Force, you can visit those sites to learn more about steampunk:
Internal combustion engine (silnik o spalaniu wewnętrznym) – engine working by fuel (silnik spalinowy), as opposed to the steam engine which is one of the external combustion engines
Wacko – slang for silly and crazy person; szajbus
Difference engine – the first device, which could have been called “a computer”, invented in 1822 by Charles Babbage; maszyna różnicowa
Airship – aerostat that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers; sterowiec
Gears and cogs – clockwork; koła zębate i tryby
Computer case – the enclosure that contains the main components of a computer; obudowa komputera
Machining – mechanically cutting the material to achieve the desired geometry; obróbka skrawaniem
Plating – method of surface covering in which a metal is deposited on a conductive surface; platerowanie
Etching - process of using strong acid to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in the metal; akwaforta
|Last Updated on Thursday, 08 April 2010 20:26|