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Amanda Davis 12/15/10 4th hour Expository Writing: Research Paper
fashion. gains spoils often in the form of gold. but in an alternate Victorian era. There are similarities between Edisonades and steampunk. The Edisonade is all about 2 . W. with the Edisonade. in part because they were written before science fiction was considered or even imagined as a genre (Nevins 7-8).The term “steampunk” arose from the popularity of cyberpunk. music. master of the frontier. which was a genre of stories about lone travelers stranded on remote islands in the vein of Robinson Crusoe by Willian Defoe. computers. The term “Edisonade” was coined by John Clute as a parallel to the “Robinsonade”. The idea of steampunk actually reaches back more than a century before the word itself appeared. if not ruled by. Near the peak of cyberpunk’s popularity. Jeter who decided “steampunk” would be an apt term for this burgeoning literary sect (Klaw 349). but there are just as many. namely setting and technology. or returns home a prosperous man. a past that never was (Campbell 32). Edisonades were still seen as “different” than the mainstream fiction of the time. The Edisonade genre consisted of stories in which a young American male invents a form of transportation and travels to the American frontier or other uncivilized parts of the globe. a small group of science fiction writers developed a different sort of sci-fi (Klaw 350). and either settles out West. Their stories were not set in a post-armageddon or dystopian future. There he battles barbaric natives or foreign invaders. and its own do-it-yourself movement. which is a science fiction subgenre consisting of stories set in a not-too-distant dystopian future that is increasing intergrated with. Steampunk has since expanded from literature into movies. It was K. if not more differences. Together these works stood out from the rest of the era’s fiction: though based on an extrapolation of the then-current technology.
However. kill natives and plunder the land. In The Difference Engine (1991). and the stories are often set in urban areas. real-life inventor Charles Babbage has created the information age one hundred years early. points out that Edisonade protagonists also have the approval of their society. Michael Moorcock added another work. with the use of punch-card reading. W. if not wiped out. In steampunk. steamdriven calculating engines. What is often called the first generation of steampunk culminated in a novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. author of The Encycolpedia Victoriana. was commonly held in the society of the time. It uses the Victorian period as an allegory for many of today’s issues such as class discrimination. G. Steampunk in modern literature is described as having two “generations. women’s rights. steampunk embraces the “punk” aspect of its name. which featured characters from H. Jeter’s Morlock Night (1979). and this work is cited as one of the definitive steampunk stories (Nevins 8). the idea that the uncivilized natives should be taken advantage of. but the idea began forming into a genre with K. Wells’ The Time Machine. and the tedious balance between humans and machines (Nevins 8). soon followed by novels by Tim Powers and James Blaylock. These engines read kino cards which store information about 3 . Queen Victoria’s Bomb (1969) by Ronald Clark and Warlord of the Air (1971) by Michael Moorcock.the male inventor setting off to the frontier to blaze a new trail. and its stories focus on rebellion against the social hierarchy. the better to portray the themes of social issues and man struggling against machine. The Dancers At The End of Time (1981).” There were a few early works such as Worlds of the Imerium (1962) by John Keith Laumer (Campbell 32-33). the characters come from all walks of life and all demographics. Jess Nevins. and promotes the themes of capitalism and man as larger than the machine.
for example. One of the main themes is the way technology affects humans. Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn (2004) and Skybreaker (2006) follow the adventures of Matt Cruise. A woman’s position in society is also touched upon. The closest thing to modern flight technology is the ornithopters: small. Steampunk elements are evident in both books. fills ariship balloons and explains why the airplane was never invented in this world. References to real historical figures. A better-known work with steampunk elements is the Dark Materials trilogy by Phlip Pullman.a person through assigned numbers (Gibson and Sterling 4 and 11) or a programmed series of images displayed through a mechanical projector (Gibson and Sterling 34). a cabin boy aboard the huge luxury airship Aurora. Steampunk in literature sufferend a decline in the 90s. Finally. the fictional gas hydrium. the famous pilot Amelia Gearheart and the Jewels Verne restaurant. from book two. motordriven flying machines with flapping wings. and the passenger Kate de Vries. how news tickers have boiled information down to simple phrases (Gibson and Sterling 207) or how citizens have been numbered in a giant database (Gibson and Sterling 11). only to be given renewed popularity in the past decade. while the gypsy girl Nadria. Combining alternate history and mystical ideas. but more freedom (once she escapes her arranged marraige) (Oppel). affected by the new machine age. Kate is rebellious against her position as a lord’s daugher. doesn’t have the wealth or power of Kate’s position. the themes of the books reflect the pitfalls of Victorian society. Matt and Kate’s relationship is likely doomed by a society that frowns on a cabin boy flirting with a wealthy banker’s daughter. are used. most noteably the flight technology. The novel features Victorian society and class structure. the mechanical 4 . but features such steampunk technology as airships. lighter than hydrogen but not flammable. the series is mostly fantasy.
usually following some sort of cataclysmic disaster. as well as Victorian-era clothing and technology (Reeve). particularly in the past ten years. and the whole of Europe is filled with moving cities that devour each other in the practice of “municipal Darwinism. On one side of the war are the Clankers. Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2000) set up a world in which all fiction is true. culminating in the great living airship Leviathan (Westerfeld). Philip Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles portrays a future where America is a nuclear wasteland following the Sixty-Minute-War. Villains of many literary works try to take over the world. waging war with diesel and steam-powered walking and flying war machines.” Hints of the Victorian class structure can be spotted. which are Britain and its allies. Steampunk has expanded from traditional literature into the realm of comic books and graphic novels. only the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stands in their way. Edward Hyde. and their allies. and their leader Mina Murray. These stories take place after the decline of modern society. survivor of an 5 . Hawley Griffin (also know as the Invisible Man). in which the only viable option for technology is to burn debris to heat water and to produce steam power. On the other side are the Darwinists. The Victorian period incarnation of the League consists of Allan Quartermain. Captain Nemo. Ten years later.aletheometer. Dr. and the medical experimentation equiptment in Bolvangar (Klaw 356). Austria-Hungary. The popular novelist Scott Westerfeld has made his own foray into steampunk literature with his alternate version of WWI in Leviathan. that of post-apocalyptic steampunk. its setting a fictional Victorian city shrouded in the steam of thousands of engines (Campbell 94-95). Henry Jekyll/Mr. consisting of Germany. Steampunk literature has its own subgenre. Kia Asamiya’s Steam Detectives (1989) was one of the first. who employ a host of genetically-engineered animals.
genius spark and ironfisted ruler of Europe. The life of young Agatha Clay is turned upside down as she discovers her true identity as the last of the Heterodyne clan. Goglielmo Marconi. steam driven mechanical spider. in the Brittish Empire. more often.G. and are opposed by Thomas Edison. brought together many actual historical figures in a fictional battle. The setting is less historically based. society. The Five Fists of Science (2006). “La Cité des 6 . The television series and movie “Wild Wild West” is an example of a western featuring steampunk technology such as a rocket-propelled train car and a giant. but the technology is thoroughly steampunk from the airships to the rayguns and Agatha’s clockwork robots. and still more with steampunk elements in setting. and Andrew Carnegie. and the genre of steampunk in movies now includes both film adaptations and original films and television shows. or technology (Baker 359-366). the Victorian style. Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Scarlet Traces (2003) continues the story of H. The story is set in a world ruled by mad scientists. risen again through the use of Martian technology. Another work. The story follows her misadventures as she goes on the run from Baron Wulfenbach. Steam Detectives became an anime in 1998. While the technology in this story is not actual steampunk. an ongoing webcomic also available in paperback. Before long. where these so-called “sparks” are either wildly successful scientists or. John Morgan. There are many other steampunk graphic novels.encounter with Count Dracula. and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen became a movie in 2003 (Campbell 88-89). Wells’s The War of the Worlds. One of the most popular steampunk comics today is Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius. steampunk leapt from the page to the screen. killed by their own inventions. setting and society are. and Baroness Bertha von Suttner try to sell a war engine to the highest bidder. Nikola Tesla. Mark Twain. famous sparks and heroes of the people.
Steampunk has also found its way in music. Japan’s animation industry has produced the anime Last Exile. Besides Steam Detectives. airship pilots who hunt lightning in the 2007 adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. steals the dreams of children. gypsy. often with hints of orchestral. or even traditional klemzer music. industrial. with members showing up in costume and using modified instruments. about two airship pilots.M. including Victorian uniforms. unable to dream. cabaret.Enfants Perdus” (The City of Lost Children) was a 1995 French movie about a mad scientist who. Steampunk elements appear in recent American works. and Steamboy. but is confronted by a group of circus performers after he kidnaps the little brother of one (Klaw 356). describing an alternate Victorian reality. the duo of Vernian Process. and describe their adventures through many of their songs (Campbell 76-77). Indian. More often than not it is a band’s live performances that define them as steampunk. Another band. and spaceships that look like historical sailing ships in Treasure Planet (2002). in which two rival engineering groups turn London into a battlefield of steam-driven war machines (Klaw 355). and a living machine and the theme of civilization’s advancement destroying old but valuable traditions in Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) (Campbell 88-89). The members of Abney Park portray themselves as airship pirates aboard the time-traveling airship H. produces mostly instrumental music featuring Victorian orchestral influences and the sounds of machinery. a clockwork robot. Ophelia.S. ragtime.” Bands such as The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and Abney Park produce songs with steampunk lyrics. Steampunk has grown from a subgenre into a subculture through music and into fashion. Steampunk fashion is much like its genre: Victorian styling with science fiction 7 . The actual style of music ranges from “goth. and dark wave to new wave and synth-pop.
Steampunk enthusiasts in costume can be spotted at small. and yields a product that is often less practical. computers. and pocket watches are paired with gears. Michigan (Campbell 43). Jake Von Slatt. The modding process is often cheap but labor-intensive. and at events such as Dragon-Con. complete with steampunk fashion show and a raygun gallery (“Exciting Things Afoot in Oamaru”). modding is the practice of altering high-tech objects such as cell phones. Costumes often come with a character concept or even full history. and include props such as field glasses. While the overall effect can stray greatly from actual Victorian wear. nuts and bolts. and The World Steam Expo in Dearborn. Maker Faire. at science fiction and anime conventions. has modified a decommissioned school bus into a steampunk-style camper reminiscent of a Victorian summer home (Campbell 38).elements added. As the movement grows. fine leather. or even vehicles and musical instruments to give them a steampunk look. The essential steampunk accessory is a pair of goggles. some are even built from scratch. Washington. which can be anything from a pair of vintage WWI aviators to a modified pair of welding goggles. the style is still based on historical materials and designs. One of the greatest aspects of steampunk as a subculture is modding. brass fittings. whole steampunk conventions have been created. corsets. Short for modifying. The town of Oamaru in New Zealand hosts a steampunk exhibit as part of its heritage celebration. gadgets.” Tophats. planned meetings. steam-powered jetpacks. including Steamcon in Seattle. and new colors and materials. vests. Additions include gears. bustles. and Victorian-style finished wood (Braiker). Newsweek writer Brian Baker describes it as “punk meets goth meets dirigible pilot. but for 8 . or rayguns. filigree. Steampunk costuming is generally more eccentric than everyday fashion and is usually worn for conventions or costumed gatherings. proprietor of the online Steampunk Workshop. and Burning Man. lenses.
48). As more items become mass produced and uniform. California created the Neverwas Haul. 9 . ever-growing phenomenon known as steampunk (Klaw 356). Steampunk stories carry both modern ideas and sensibilities and the unique appeal of the Victorian era. One group took this doctrine to the extreme: for the 2006 Burning Man festival. the music provides listeners with something very different from the mainstream. while presenting new elements to be included in the ever-changing. Resembling a cross between an old-fashioned train car and a small Victorian manor. encouraging originality and individuality. Each work builds upon the legacy of older works.steampunks. more aesthetically appealing than the original (Braiker). this vehicle from “a past that never was” is made from 75% recycled material and runs on alternative fuel. Steampunk as a movement often overlaps with the Do-It-Yourself movement. and the fashion is certain to turn heads (Campbell 32. Steampunk as a both a science fiction subgenre and a subculture continues to evolve. 76. modding takes on new popularity for all consumers (Braiker). featuring new stories and ideas on a daily basis. Its creators keep it running to tour outdoor festivals hosting steampunk events across the nation (Campbell 107). the Academy of Unnatural Sciences in Berkeley.
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