Tag Archives | steampunk

Micah Hanks On ‘The Bizarre Mechanical Messiah of John Murray Spear’

Steampunk MaskMysterious Universe’s Micah Hanks has written a rather excellent piece on nineteenth century freethinker and all-around oddball John Murray Spear. It’s definitely worth a read.

Clergyman, abolitionist, secret-society founder, 1850′s women’s rights and free-love advocate… and eventually a steam-punk “godsmith” seeking to create a kind of holier-than-holy, copper-bound mecha-messiah.

Needless to say, John Murray Spear must have been a sight to be held in his day.

Touting the virtues of extra-marital sex and birth control by the middle 1850s, he was indeed a renegade for his time, having been essentially excommunicated by his brothers and sisters in the Universalist Church of America, under which he had served as a minister for more than two decades. Now, rather than seeking to serve the will of God, he had changed gears in the most literal sense.

It was time to institute a new age, Spear believed, and with the wisdom of long-dead scientific geniuses he claimed to be channeling, his aim was to create a new kind of God for the coming utopian age of enlightened thinkers.

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IBM Forecasts Steampunk As Next Big Thing

Clearly the IBM trend analysts haven't been allowed to visit the likes of Dragon*Con or Comic-Con in recent years as they're just now realizing that it's a real trend:
Based on an analysis of more than a half million public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources, IBM predicts that ‘steampunk,’ a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up, and take hold, of the retail industry. Major fashion labels, accessories providers and jewelry makers are expected to integrate a steampunk aesthetic into their designs in the coming year. Measuring public sentiment can help retail chief marketing officers customize incentives and services to be more in tune with what customers are asking for...
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The Politics of Steampunk

Steampunk Mask

Photo: Jim (CC)

I thought it would be interesting to continue the discussion from my previous post on “Steampunk and Anarchism” (found here). This next article by Magpie Killjoy explores the intersection of radical politics and steampunk fiction and aesthetic Via TOR.com:

I first consciously got into steampunk back in 2004. It was the perfect aesthetic lens for my interests: history, mad science, genre fiction, the underclasses, and radical politics. It was steampunk, really, that helped me realize how awesome it is to be classy yet poor, that we can celebrate individual and communal ingenuity without babbling on about how great this or that nation or empire might be.

Now, seven years later, I’m constantly amazed by how many people, including some of the most die-hard steampunk adherents, seem to believe that steampunk has nothing to offer but designer clothes. There are people (a minority, I would argue, just a loud one) who act like steampunk is simply a brassy veneer with which to coat the mainstream.

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Anarchism and Steampunk

Aerial HouseExploring the radical roots of a popular science fiction genre. Via Airships, Anarchists, & Anachronisms:

Steampunk began as a radical satirical form of fiction, but today it encompasses much more. What precisely is steampunk? As the editors of Steampunk Magazine explain, steampunk is “a vibrant culture of DIY crafters, writers, artists, and other creative types, each with their own slightly different answer to that question.” By its diverse nature, steampunk resists definition. Furthermore, in the ever evolving nature of steampunk, “as each new iteration of the idea be­comes more ambitious, the mutations are delightfully limitless and unpredictable.”

This definition seems in line with Rachel A. Bowser and Brian Croxall’s statement that, “Steampunk is more about instability than any other single characteristic. It resists fixedness by unsettling the categories from which it cribs.” Yet, the authors do provide a definition for those looking for the quintessential steampunk. They write:

That being said, one common element arguably shared by all steampunk texts, objects, or performances is the one on which this journal is predicated: the invocation of Victorianism.

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Clothing In The Year 2000

A video in which fashion designers circa the 1930s were asked to design clothing as they predicted it would look in the year 2000. More fun than accurate ("transparent nets to catch males", "an electric belt will adapt the belt to climatic changes", "a dress of aluminum"), although their vision of the tie-less, goateed 21st century male -- with his portable phone/radio and pockets for "keys, coins, and candy for cuties" -- is fairly prescient.
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