Russian telescopes Tajikistan

Peering Into Space

Somewhere in the remote barrenness of the former Soviet republic Tajikistan stands a group of giant snow globe-like structures, “like straight off a pulp-era dime novel cover,” as Redfezwriter puts it over at our message-board community, the Smoking Lounge.

The things aren’t snow globes nor huge Pac-Macs, but telescopes monitoring the satellites Russia is still able to maintain in orbit. Continue reading “Peering Into Space”

RMS Mauretania

RMS Mauretania

On July 28, 1938, at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England, the flagship of the new Cunard White Star Line was launched. In honor of the proud and record-breaking vessel that served Cunard between 1906 and 1934, this ship was christened Mauretania and — like her predecessor — destined to become a favorite among transatlantic travelers because of her speed and luxury.

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Stephen Hickman artwork

Introduction to Victorientalism

With the increasing contact with the East and its ensuing colonization, people in the West became fascinated by this strange new world. For centuries, adventurers, novelists and romantics had been interested in the lands beyond the horizon. Europe had all been explored and people became more and more familiar with the world they lived in. The Orient was still a realm of mystery, inhabited by alien people, exotic and sometimes cruel, with customs that Enlightened Europeans thought of as barbaric; a place where time had stood still.

An age-long Orientalist tradition of those who studied the East has in our times been criticized for its presumed bias and even racism. In the realm of steampunk, however, we can safely recreate the Orient as it was described and depicted by nineteenth-century authors and artists who might never have seen it. All the myths and miracles of the East that enchanted the Victorians can come true. Continue reading “Introduction to Victorientalism”

BioShock concept art

What Is Biopunk?

It’s unclear who coined the phrase “biopunk,” but presumably the term was invented after steampunk had been established as a genre. At least, it was not until steampunk had entered the mainstream that biopunk emerged.

Like steampunk, this proposed literary genre finds its origins in cyberpunk. It replaces the information technology of cybernetics with the synthetic biology of genetic engineering, but maintains most of the other elements of the genre.

Which begs the question: Should biopunk be considered a genre of its own? And if not, are steam- and dieselpunk really genres in their own right?

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Stefan Prohaczka artwork

The Two Flavors of Dieselpunk

While discussing the “dark side of dieselpunk,” the author of the dieselpunk blog, The Flying Fortress, coined the phrases “Ottensian” and “Piecraftian” dieselpunk to refer to fiction set, respectively, in a pre- or post-nuclear environment.

Where The Flying Fortress starts the “Piecraftian” with the Atomic Age, Piecraft and myself argue World War II is the better dividing line between the two flavors of dieselpunk. Continue reading “The Two Flavors of Dieselpunk”