gadget, gimmick, and gizmo
famous Canadian Science Fiction writer
Mark A. Carter gives his two
cents worth about Steampunk.
I have seen wondrous creativity,
of late, in an obscure area of Science
Fiction known as Steampunk.
It's Science Fiction niche
city now, Virginia.
And Steampunk seems to be
growing in popularity. Whether this popularity continues or
Steampunk dies an early death is, as yet, undertermined.
We shall see.
Lia Keyes, I am now a member of The
Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild. And thanks to
Lee Ann Farruga, I am also
a member of Steampunk
Canada. I'm sure that
Ms. Keyes, Ms. Farruga, and the other
Steampunkers don't know what to make of me. Nevertheless,
starting sometime in the foreseeable
future, after I finish this,
that, and the other, I may be writing
Steampunk. Heaven help us all if I do. Hold onto your
goggles, hats, and weapons ladies.
Steampunk may never be the same. I just hope I don't
break anything. Stay tuned.
I dream about a Steampunk typewriter. This is it.
those of you who are not yet acquainted with
Steampunk, let me show you what
Wiikipedia has to say on the subject.
is a sub-genre of Science Fiction characterized by a
setting in which steam power predominates as the energy source
for industrial technologies, inspired by industrial civilization
during the 19th century. Typically, therefore, works of steampunk
are set in an alternate history of the 19th century's British
Victorian era or American Wild West; in a post-apocalyptic
future during which steam power has regained mainstream usage;
or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk
perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies
or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the
19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise
rooted in this era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural
style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines
like those found in the works of H.
G. Wells and Jules Verne,
or the contemporary authors
Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, and
China Mieville. Other examples of
Steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations
of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analog computers,
or such digital mechanical computers as
Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's
may also, though not necessarily, incorporate additional
elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction,
alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction,
making it often a hybrid genre. The term
Steampunk originated during the
1980s and early 1990s,
though now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created
even as far back as the 19th century
also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions,
or subcultures, that have developed from the aesthetics of
Steampunk fiction. Various modern utilitarian objects
have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian
mechanical Steampunk style,
and a number of visual and musical artists have been described
Year ago, longer than I would
like to admit, I wrote that "the
science in science fiction cannot be used as a gimmick."
Read The Doomsday Theme
in Science Fiction, 1981. What I have seen of late
with so-called Steampunk, is
that the science and technology are absent altogether. Just because
you run around dressed in period costume carrying a gadget doesn't
make your story Steampunk. It
becomes a period piece with the nouveau
Victorian trappings of Steampunk
but nothing more, something I would like to call the
Street Urchin look or Technopunk,
but without the steam that gives the sub-genre
its name. The steam in Steampunk
is often literal, but usually used as a symbol for the
plethora of science and technology of the
Victorian Period. But what I have seen recently is that
the basis of the literature is simply not there.
The Time Machine be without the technology of
the machine as energy collector and emitter on a large scale
but very electronic and transistor-like of
Wells far ahead of his time and predictive as all get
out, of energy being transformed from one form to another, or
the nature of time itself or the theory behind time travel? Where
be without the biology of body parts sewn together and reanimated
with electricity? As an aside, like
H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley was also a visionary. Remember,
I wrote back in 1981 that
Science Fiction is predictive.
And please stop referring to Victor
Frankenstein as Doctor Frankenstein.
Read the book. He is a first year biology
drop out, flunky, and mental midget playing God. It's
Hollywood that made him a
Doctor. So, where is Steampunk
Victorian Period was filled with so many technical discoveries
and innovations. There is so much to include and to play with
in Steampunk stories. So,
why are current so-called Steampunk
writers not including the science and technology? It
confounds me. Perhaps they are merely
dilettantes with mental health issues playing adult dress
up who would be better off writing something else if they are
even writing at all.
So, this is my promise: I'm going
to put the steam back in Steampunk.
My stories will always have technology at the heart of
them for good or bad, and usually both. And the technology will
be used as an active part of my stories, as a character in and
of itself, and never used as merely a
gadget, gimmick or gizmo. You have my word.
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