I have long been a fan of Victorian science fiction – the work of chaps such as Jules Verne, HG Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. Their era was so full of hope! Scientific possibilities seemed endless. These writers looked to the future and imagined great wonders. Some years ago I came across a modern sci-fi sub genre that turned this on its head.
The Victorians imagined advances in technology and science. Steampunk (henceforth referred to as SP) pretty much does the opposite. SP takes modern technology and imagines how the Victorians would have made it with the means at their disposal – clockwork and steam. It’s a brilliant idea, eh?
Sadly for me I’ve yet to find much that lives up to my expectations of this genre. This stems from my first SP experience. I saw a play. A play so funny and imaginative, so indescribably glorious, everything else seems pale and hollow in comparison. That play was entitled The Adventures of Stoke Mandeville, Astronaut and Gentleman (the creators have since Youtubed the story but it can’t quite compare to insane splendour of the stage show).
Since then I’ve tried to read some SP fiction but gave up in disappointment. Occasionally I’ll see a film with SP touches, and Doctor Who’s Tardis had a real SP feel – all dials, levers and shiny knobs. But mostly I search in vain.
And now I’m on my way to Oxford to visit a Steampunk exhibition there. Fingers crossed it’ll be utterly ripping experience I’m hoping for. I shall report back. Brace yourselves!…
The Steampunk exhibition in Oxford was awesome! Held at the Museum of the History of Science it featured a lovely collection of SP art (see below) as well as a specially commissioned Steampunk comic strip by 2D Goggles creator Sydney Padua. Much fun.