Steampunk in Seattle, what’s that?

Nov 19, 2010, 2:30 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

After spending a couple of decades in the news business, it’s rare that a story comes along that I’ve never heard before and can’t even guess what it’s about.

Here’s a new one for me – Steampunk.

Are you familiar with that term? Of course, Wikipedia is: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, Steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used, so that would be the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain.

There’s a Steampunk convention in Seattle this weekend, Steamcon II, Weird Weird West. From looking at their website, it’s clear that historical, science fiction fashion is part of the culture.

Steamcno2

Steamcon3

Steamcon4

Photos courtesy SteamCon

It’s a bit intriguing. But, why? What’s the fascination with the “steam” era? And if it’s a throwback to a different time, why are there so many iPhone apps for people who are into this?

Time Magazine answers those questions with a story they reported last year on the Steampunk movement.

Author Scott Westerfeld says Steampunk is like a snapshot from the last moment in human history when technology was intelligible to the layman. The Internet is global and seemingly omniscient. Westerfield describes iPods and phones as “microscopic workings encased in plastic blobjects.”

“Compare that to a steam engine, where you can watch the pistons move and feel the heat of its boilers. I think we miss that visceral appeal of the machine. Plus, those Victorians dressed a lot better than we do,” he says.

Wait, a friend below suggested I look for a “steampunked iPhone.” Maybe I could get into this. Very cool.

steampunkiphone

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Steampunk in Seattle, what’s that?