Thursday, March 19, 2009

SERIOUS Steampunk

I had to do my presentation for the Young Adult Fiction class I'm in. It was on steampunk. That rad trend that is already on it's last legs. I wrote up a bit just to get everyone's gears going before going into boring examples and why it's an excellent genre for YA.



You've been warned.

Steampunk is evocative. Of cogs brass and valves. Wood and leather. Of massive unwieldy but beautiful machines made not by the hyper-efficient engine of a assembly-line society, but by artisans. People who worked close to the metal, as it were, where every part of a machine could eventually be broken down and explained to a schoolchild. The Machine made quaint, the Machine made monstrous, the Machine as an aesthetic imperative, whether that be a stunning contraption of whirring gears and highly polished oak, or a belching, heaving mass of pistons and heavy fly wheels churning to some indefinite but sinister purpose.

A world covered with coal soot and brimming with the sights, sounds, and smells of a city still grappling with the transition to the industrial age. A city bursting with life: dirty and squalid, mean and charred, but also one of wonder. Where all about are things and ideas that still have the romance of new, the novel, of the undiscovered country.

There's something deep in the human brain that clicks when it sees something steampunk. The objects are heavy. They are not of the temporary now, so fleeting a world where even the all powerful entity of money is nothing more than electrons careening through fibres and living on kraken-like computers held by a priest-like banking system. No. These objects are substantial. Of something created from man, carefully, with purpose. Something meant to withstand the vagaries of a flitting world.


Anonymous said...

Your style is evolving. Fewer misfires, more polished work, less ambitious sentences. A pleasure to read; post more.

Greg X Graves said...

Sentence fragment (Consider Revising).

Cool - I'm ashamed that steampunk has already been co-opted and burned through by hipsters. Maybe somewhere within its own wreckage the gears will begin turning and a tiny plume of anthracite smoke will signal a quiet revival, with less faddishness.

Niteowl said...

anon: thank you kindly. I often wonder if it's not evolving into an aborted lab experiment, test tube glass still clinging to it, its thousand mouths gaping at the world unleashing unfathomable horrors and unspeakable darkness.

burny: i'm sure it'll live on, as a very niche sub-genre, which I'm fine with.