Monday, July 18, 2011
Early templates for what steampunk would become include Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. So far modern film examples have been pretty lacking and not received strong critical responses, but they include Wild, Wild West, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing, and some even argue the new Sherlock Holmes film can be included because it uses technology far ahead of its time, explained with older methods.
The neat thing about Steampunk is the fact that it has become so popular in the last few years. For various reasons it has become not only a genre of fiction (of which the written examples have been far better received than their film counterparts) but fashion, household 'modding', and even (to some) a lifestyle choice. Many former 'Goths' who have left the movement (some have simply gotten bored, others have begun to resist their association with the Vampire subculture of Twilight) have moved on to the retro-futurism of Steampunk. But strangely, unlike their previous incarnation this one is not repelling people, but bringing them together in strange ways. It's a way to be different by being strangely conservative.
So, I guess it just shows that there's something to the idea of longing for simpler times. In Christian fiction we've had Amish Romance for decades, but what we're starting to see on the horizon something coming out of the mainstream market: a form of fiction that longs to turn back the clock, find a time when things were slower, more beautifully crafted, and better made. And, just like Amish fiction, it's an attempt to very obviously reconcile the perceived peace of the past with the technology of the present.
So, maybe the women reading romance and the boys playing with ray guns have more in common than we thought.