“When I was a kid, we had to use our imagination.”
–My father’s response whenever I complained there was nothing to do.
My imagination was certainly fueled by Dr. Seuss (dramatically read by my father), and The Flintstones (tipping a bird’s head down, so its beak acted like a phonograph needle!). So, naturally, I’m intrigued by the quirky, science fiction/fantasy world of steampunk, set in the 19th century Victorian era.
Generally, steampunk refers to an alternate reality of “innovative” steam-powered machinery or “retro-futuristic” inventions that may have been conjured by 19th century visionaries, such as airships (think The Adventures of Baron Munchausen). Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and contemporary authors, e.g., Terry Pritchard and his Discworld, easily imagined this creative landscape.
The Old West was set during this time as well, so steampunk can be seen in the classic 1960’s TV show (and, years later, film), The Wild, Wild, West. Who could forget mad scientist Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless’ devices for his plots of revenge? Television today offers Warehouse 13 for steampunk fare.
Guy Ritchie incorporates steampunk into his Sherlock Holmes films, and gamers can find related themes as well.
You can “steampunk” gadgets such as cell phones, typewriters, and computers, using brass, copper, glass, wood, and, pieces of clockwork.
Fashions are appropriately designed: gowns, corsets, bustles, petticoats, suit vests, top hats, goggles, pocket watches, and monocles. Prada even came out with a steampunk men’s line for the fall of 2012.
There are fairs and festivals, magazines, comic books, and even music. Rush’s new album, “Clockwork Angels,” delves into the steampunk world.
If you’re looking for a different type of escapism, steampunk may be your ticket.