Friday, November 26, 2010

Determining the Roots of Steampunk videos

Below is the video playlist off YouTube for my presentation on the literary roots of Steampunk. I'm tremendously sorry for the watermark on videos 6 and 7 -- the friend who helped me upload the videos tried about a dozen different programs to pull the watermarks off but it didn't work. Ah well. Hope you all enjoy it anyway!


ggray said...

Your panel was inspiring, Matthew, you covered a lot of ground and it was also entertaining and dry. I learned a lot about steampunk and about how to conduct a panel from watching these and I know I'll go back to them often. I'm already referring them out to a lot of people. Have you posted them on Steampunk Empire? I think folks would enjoy them and you may stir up a good bit of talk which you did with your audience - all of which made for a highly successful panel.

Carl A. O'Donnell said...

Thanks for this presentation! I've always this gnawing interest in various forms of 'punk' genre (steampunk, biopunk, clock punk etc.) but I've never had a chance to sit dow and actually read one. In fact, due to the underground nature of steampunk, I wouldn't even know where to start :-P But it is great to stumble upon this wealth of steampunk information, I stand to learn a lot more about this extremely appealing genre from your blog.

Sophie Playle said...

Hi Matthew,

I know I'm a bit late to the party here but I've just watched your presentation - fantastic stuff! Really interesting.

I have a few thoughts. Firstly, slightly pedantic and I could be wrong... but why is Frankenstein not considered Urban Gothic? Didn't the monster run loose around the city? Isn't this the same kind of bringing-the-horror-to-the-masses that you talked about in reference to Dracula?

Also, you say that Gothic Romance focuses on emotion and not logic, whereas Detective fiction focuses on logic and reason, and both these aspects are found in Steampunk. Yet, as with alternate history and speculative fiction, this logic is broken down and re-established, often with the writer saying 'shh...! it works because I say it works!' - I'm a little confused by all this, it feels a little muddled. Any further discussion/clarification on the logic foundations of steampunk would be much appreciated.

On that note, I wonder where this fascination with steam-powdered technology comes from in the first place. I wonder if it is simply the aesthetic quality of the genre, or if there is more to it... What do you think?

Matthew Delman said...

Hi Sophie,

Thanks for your comments. Let me see if my answers help:

1) Frankenstein, unlike Dracula, had less populated areas as its primary basis. The laboratory set off from the rest of the world, the chase through the Arctic, that sort of thing. Whereas Dracula began in the countryside and then moved to its primary locale in the city, Frankenstein never had that shift in dominant locale. That's why it's considered Gothic instead of Urban Gothic.

2) By logic, I mean more the statement "there's always a logical explanation to the world." When an author does some hand-waving and says "it works because I say it does," that still counts as a logical underpinning to their particular world.

Gothic Romance at its core was a rejection of the Neo-Classicist focus on realism in storytelling, which is different from internal story logic.

3) The fascination with steam-powered technology comes I feel because as the Western Republics (the UK, the U.S., Germany, etc) become more technologically advanced there's a disconnect between the people who use the machines and the functionality of the machine.

Steam-powered technology is mechanical, which means that you can open a steam turbine and with a little bit of study know how it works. Steampunk, as an extension of that, hearkens back to the day when the average person in his garage could create new mechanical technology with his own two hands.

Hope that helps!

Sophie Playle said...

Thanks for your responses, Matthew. That's cleared up the issues in my mind.

I also love your ideas about the fascination with steampunk. I can totally relate to that idea myself.

I think it's actually quite frightening how society today has become so reliant on technology, yet the technology is so advanced that the general masses don't understand how it works or why... Going back to the (almost) simplicity of steam and gears is quite satisfying.