( With thanks to The Firesign Theatre) Of all the Science Fiction genes out there, Steampunk currently has the most interest for me. I think Science Fiction is good reading for anyone interested in the intersection of culture, design and technology and the social implications the occur at the center. Why? Good SF is not about buggy–eyed creatures with ray guns, at least not anymore. Read works by Brin, Asimov, Heinlein, Le Guin, Card and Ellison and nary a bug-eyed creature will be in sight. What you will get are compelling stories that often address forms of societal upheaval, introductions of elements that cause divisions, and of course people overcoming great odds. It’s sometimes easier to let works that are far removed from our current experience to help us contemplate questions about our own societal issues in new ways.
What I like about Steampunk is not just the literature so much, but that many of the most ardent fans are also makers. They create these wonderful Jules Verne era devices that turn the conception of modern technology on its head. For example, the Neverwas Haul, shown in the 1st video, is a steam powered love note to Victorian ideas of exploration and armchair anthropology. Here’s where the tables are turned: it’s a 3 story Victorian mansion the will soon be able to move under its own steam power. Its not just the members of the club that explore… the entire club explores. Art and whimsy can often teach us as much about innovation as anthropology and business can.
The next video is from Crabfu Steamworks. This is the steam powered centipede, but the R/C steam powered spider is pretty damn impressive too.