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Go West, Old Son, Go West February 17, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in fantasy, ideas, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, steampunk, westerns, Wild West, writing.

The appeal of steampunk is a broad one and there are lots of reasons put forward why this is so. One that seems less likely to me but which might still be possible is a return to a more mannered Victorian society. Considering the type of stories I read, there isn’t much of a veneer of politeness. These are not comedies of manners but mayhap are action stories of manners.

I took my car in for work yesterday and hiked back and forth to the garage since it took all day to rotate the tires and change the oil. On the walk home I listened to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds<. Wonderful stuff and definitely steampunk audio adaptation of one of the best examples of steampunk (HG Wells came up with about every sf plot still used today). Heat rays and Martians and germs. Wow.

Coming up this fall is likely a complete miss with a revamped Wild Wild West (the first TV version was definitely steampunk–I’m not sure what the movie was, other than awful. OK, it was awful steampunk.) Might be the genre is piquing interest again? Or is this a following indicator? The interest is there and TV is trying to catch up?

One of the stranger examples in the field is Queen Victoria’s Bomb. When I looked this up I was surprised that it was a 1986 title. Somehow I had it pegged in the ‘70s. But it is an interesting look at errant technology and political futility set in the Victorian era.

The traditional western might never blend with sf and remain a western. I think of steampunk as sf in a different setting, not a western (or Victorian historical) with a stfnal slant. This might be a quirk on my part but I don’t think so. Westerns are at heart historical and rooted more in reality (or what is accepted as such). The parameters are fixed–but what stories can be played with inside those boundaries? SF is wide-open and not fixed in time or space. Do western readers want to accept a significant change to their stories? For sf readers, steampunk is a subgenre. For western readers it is likely an abomination unless it is done with more subtlety .



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