Monday, April 4, 2011

Back to the Future

Yes, it's an incredible trilogy, but that's not what we're talking about here. I mean retrofuturism. Already confused? Not to worry, my pets, not to worry. I'm here to explain what the heck that big (ish) old word means. Retrofuturism is a very hot subgenre of science fiction (though some of it is definitely a little too fantastic to be considered hard sci-fi (if you want to discuss (or argue) with me about this then feel free to email me - I love a good debate)) that entails an advancement of out-dated technology, such as steam power and diesel power. Instead of having the technology evolve in its natural path it is shown to stagnate within a particular classification and advance into outdated versions of modern technology. Okay, now I know for a fact that you're confused. Maybe an example would work more effectively. I feel fairly confident that most of you all are familiar with steampunk by this point. That's retrofuturism. They have steam powered guns, steam powered airships, and steam powered zombie cyborgs. Not anywhere near what they had for technology in the 1800's, but it appears in steampunk. that's what retrofuturism is. Now, I hope that makes sense because I'm moving along with this...now. The retorfuturism started with something completely different. Cyberpunk was a movement late in the 20th century that had anarchist and anarchist-like characters (anti-establishment, at any rate) along with highly advanced technology based on the modern computers of the time. That is the only form of "retrofuturism" that ever really stuck to the "punk" part of the name. Now, I don't know them all and I don't know how they evolved, but I have a pretty good grasp on what they are in general, and when push comes to shove do we really ever need more than that?

  • Steampunk: Victorian technology; powered by steam and gears and the like.

  • Clockpunk: Rennaissance technology; powered by pendulums and gears; very inspired by the concepts of Leonard da Vinci.

  • Dieselpunk: Technology from the early days of locomotive travel; powered by, obviously, diesel and very much dependent on combustion, heat, and iron.

  • Atompunk: An essentially purely conceptual sub-genre based on the extrapolation of the atomic power craze in the 1960's; powered by nuclear reactions.

I admit that there are likely others, but this is an overview of the most basic retrofuturism sub-genres. For a much more complete explanation feel free to check out the Wikipedia page for Retrofuturism and follow the lovely links.


Blessed be,


Voss

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