Thursday, 9 April 2009
SteamPunk is the 'Age of Invention', with the absence of electronics.
That 'Age of Invention' also known as the Victorian era, saw industrialization and mechanization, on a grand scale, which has inspired Authors from the 19th., 20th. And 21st. Century to create some subtle or delicate and more portable gizmo's, others to envisage more grandiose machines to convey people. These machines have become Iconic focal-points, and have gone through several transformations over the years, interpreted via different media.
From the written word (which fires the imagination), from the accompanying prospective of the engraved illustrations, depicting an art-Deco feel and style, to many of Verne's wonderus machines far away from a future of steam and rivets. With the advent of the motion picture, and visual effects pioneered by the directors of the silent films, helped to give a mass audience a group memory of what the machines looked like.
This group memory has again entered in to modern society, in the mid 1950's, and the prolific 1960's, and up until end of the 1970's, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells inspired family films (the lighter side of SteamPunk) solidified people's imaginations.
The Iconic Balloon from 'Michael Todd's Around the World in 80 Days' was never in Verne's original novel, and so far (as I write this) I have yet to see on celluloid the Steam powered mechanical elephant (a play on the nickname for the Standard gauge six wheeled Locomotive, with its chimney coming out from the front) that was also in the novel, and Walt Disney's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' interpretation of the 'Nautilus', with its Victorian retro look has survived as the modern Iconic submarine, in which all Vernesque submersibles are now taken from, you could say “it's a true SteamPunk marvel”. Even one of Jules Verne's most revered characters 'Captain Nemo' was not always portrayed as the Indian Prince of Dakkar!
So popular was this 'Age of Invention' to the Hollywood movie makers that, films like ‘The Assassination Bureau’ (1969), and 'The Island at the Top of the World' (1974 ), with its beautiful Airship were taken from the novel 'The Lost Ones', Written in 1970 by Ian Cameron, and set in the 1960's and ‘The Assassination Bureau Limited’ was started in 1910 I am told, by Jack London, and then finished by Robert L. Fish in 1963 were made to fit the era, and thus show how a good story can be given a SteamPunk makeover and survive in people's memories to this day. Now these things all SteamPunkers can see.
Looking at the wealth of 19th. And 20th. Century Science Fiction to be portrayed on film, what about the mediums of today, Television (and its press) and the Internet communities, and Forums, how have they changed the vision populous have of Steampunk?
While I am not a great supporter of Mr. Verne nor of Mr. Wells (I prefer the less travelled roads of Mr. E. A. Poe (the father of Science Fiction), Mr. Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Mr. M Moorcock), but I can see now, in this age of communication so rapped and ever changing that George Owell's 'Newspeak' (am reading 1984) will, in its way change how people see and remember SteamPunk, and that the pioneers will be a forgotten thing of the past and lost to us all.
Looking back to the past, and the future.
The Steam Brigadier