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The age of steampunk - Nostalgia meets the future, joined carefully with brass screws
[3 Edition]
Boston Globe - Boston, Mass.
Subjects: Technology; Science fiction & fantasy; Inventions
Author: Bebergal, Peter||||||Peter Bebergal is the co-author||||||Korb, with Scott||||||of "The Faith Between Us||||||" forthcoming
Date: Aug 26, 2007
Start Page: 10
Section: Ideas
Abstract (Document Summary)

"The iPhone might be sleek and well-designed within its mode, but there's no way it can compete in luxe qualities with some Victorian equivalent," said author Paul Di Filippo, the first to use the term "steampunk" in a title of a book, "The Steampunk Trilogy." Steampunk "embodies both handicraft and mass-production elements in a rich visual vocabulary totally lacking in today's plastic, cheap-jack gadgets."

The influence on steampunk literature goes as far back as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, but those authors can't really be considered steampunk because they were writing about their own era. Michael Moorcock's "The Warlord of the Air" (1971), "Lord Kelvin's Machine" (1992) by James P. Blaylock, "The Difference Engine" (1991) by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, and Di Filippo's "Steampunk Trilogy" (1995) are often cited as the central steampunk novels. In "The Difference Engine," the visionary artist William Blake gives Powerpoint presentations using a kind of magnetic tile device. In a novel released this year, Jay Lake's "Mainspring," the sun revolves around the earth along a system of celestial gears.

Objects like the Infumationizer show that steampunk is also simply a love of the fantastic. Steampunk hackers are often science fiction geeks at heart. There's a love of things that don't exist, except in some alternate world, like the "Peltier-Seebeck Recycled Energy Generating Device" and the "Aetheric Flux Agitator Mk2." One of Datamancer's other inventions is a modified enclosure for his desktop computer, which he calls "The Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixello-Dynamotronic Computational Engine." He used the cabinet of 1920 tube radio, a turn of the century Underwood typewriter, and various parts and pieces to create a functional, completely anachronistic, impossibly real computer.

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