Image Courtesy of Mr. XPK
Steampunk Hands 2017
By Madeleine Holly-Rosing
Steampunk. The word evokes images of airships, gears, corsets, and mechanical clocks. But is that all it is? The answer is a resounding no. It is also a study of alternate history which examines the culture, technology, and world events that might have been if societies had evolved differently. For writers, it’s the ability to create a new world view based on the question—what if?
The irony is that I used to hate reading alternate history until I started writing it. I love history and the lessons it teaches us, but for years I didn’t think there was any point in reading an alternate version of an event of which we already knew the outcome. (Ah, the hubris.) It took a while to realize that wasn’t the point.
What I didn’t understand then, but I know now, is that when you insert creativity into the question of “what if?” in regards to alternate history, what comes out the other side is often magical. From fashion, to art to literature, steampunk inspires a host of creative endeavors that can elevate and inform. It can also force us to reflect on decisions we made in the past and might make in the future. For me, it gives me a place to write about the themes of classism, racism, and sexism in an organic environment. For others, it allows them the opportunity to create stories about how cultures and technology could have evolved without being crushed under the boot of imperialism. A sub-genre of science fiction, steampunk also gives us a platform on which to expose the failings in our society in the hope of making it better for everyone.
But let’s not forget magic. Or the paranormal. Or wherever your imagination takes you. In fact, I’d suggest we all hop on the next airship that passes by, strap on our goggles, and see what adventures lay ahead. I hope you will join me.
By Madeleine Holly-Rosing, writer/creator of Boston Metaphysical Society comic and novellas. A Kickstarter to print the trade paperback of the six issue mini-series will run from Feb. 1 to March 1.