Steampunk intrigues me. If you haven’t delved into this fork of science fiction already, it means taking a given piece of technology, and reimagining how it might have been developed back in the days when steam was the primary heavy power source.
For authentic steampunkiness, a prerequisite seems to be to encase everything in some sort of brasswork, give each and every dial and indicator some sort of antiquated curly-que treatment, and put a rivet on every single exposed surface.
And the outfits. Competitions revolve around the level of enthusiasm and detail invested in each participant’s ensemble, and as expected, the more extreme the better.
The end result in what you’re presented with in steampunk is machinery that is at once very industrial, yet very sophisticated in appearance, always leaving me with a sense of, “Gee…maybe it could have really happened that way if only this one little development had taken place”.
Perhaps the greatest forerunner and best role model of the entire steampunk phenomenon is Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo and his Nautilus. I see the work as an inspiration of a way of presenting advanced devices under the cloak of antiquity. The same might be said of some of Verne’s other works, like, “From the Earth to the Moon”. A distinctly Edwardian atmosphere with high-tech accoutrements.
For those of you who were watching television in March and April of 1982, you might remember an interesting but short-lived show called, Q.E.D., which you can learn about here and here. As the Wikipedia article states, “the series had a smattering of what would later be called steampunk”. I actually remember thinking in my twelve-year-old mind that the ramifications of modern tech in Edwardian England could be a treasure box of story material.
But getting back to Verne, could he be considered the father of steampunk? In my mind he just might be. What do you think? Comments welcome.