Thursday, 13 June 2013

In Which the Blogger considers the Nature of Victorian Science Fiction

Victorian Science Fiction, or Steampunk?

I saw a quote yesterday - "Steampunk is just Fantasy with cogwheels" and suddenly a number of ideas that have been flapping around in the recesses of my brain found roosting spots.

I'm about to "get into" skirmish gaming in a setting the encompasses the Victorian and Edwardian period up to the early 1900's. Gaming in this period is characterised as "Colonial Period" - and often seeks to recreate the various colonial wars waged by the Imperial powers of the period. Lately, however, we have seen games such as Warmachine, with steam-powered warjacks, gaining in popularity, and a cosplay movement that seems to believe that slapping some goggles and a frame brace on a duster somehow makes one a "Steampunk".

The science that excited writers such as Verne and H.G. Wells and which drove their Speculative Romances has been overshadowed by the excesses of Victorian Advertising and the Gothic or Heroic Romances of Shelley, Stoker and Dunsany, and rather than attempt even a feeble explanation of why something may work in a particular way, we see authors resorting to handwavium or other such forms of mystic deus ex machina to allow their narratives to leap nimbly over holes in their plots.

So, this Blog will look at various Victorian Science Fiction stories, and at games set within this period, and at modern novels that play "true to form". But like any good villain, I will have my secret escape hatch already set, to allow myself to flee into whimsey if I so wish.