Steam-Driven Dreams

Posted on June 21, 2007 

Steam-Driven Dreams: The Wondrously Whimsical World of Steampunk

Retro-futurism is all the rage these days: antique computers, 8-bit game art, classic cases for modern gear, anything to make the onslaught of new technology less disposable. The yearning for timelessness in a constantly renewing tech culture has led to a spike in interest in the steam-powered, brass-encrusted world of steampunk.

The ideas behind the steampunk sci-fi subgenre have been around since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, but it was given its moniker in the late ’80s as a speculative-fiction genre, alongside cyberpunk, ribofunk and splatterpunk. While the others peer 15 minutes into the future, steampunk envisions a future that has collapsed onto a re-imagined Victorian past. Steam and clockworks replace silicon logic, brass and copper stand in for titanium and plastic, and airships replace spaceships.

If you went to last year’s Burning Man, you may have seen this “art car” crawling across the playa. It and its pith-helmeted and corseted crew also made an appearance at the 2007 Maker Faire.


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