Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cyberpunk isn't Steampunk

When I was in Cybertown for those four years, something in particular really bothered me. There was an attempt to blur the line between Wicca and Celtic Pagan with the Goth movement, usually by the Goths. They had haunted stuff, dark stuff, bloody stuff, demonic stuff, pentagrams and pentacles... and they hawked altars and faithful witch and Pagan ritual items for inflated prices. As a witch once said: "Witchcraft and Wicca is about light and balance, and not about dressing up like Lily Munster."

I found this frivolous exploitation of faiths in CT reprehensible. It came to a head for me when someone from the Fae neighborhood in Inner Realms (the allegedly enlightened colony) posted a party for "witches and warlocks." Now, the fact is - and most Celtic Wiccans know this - a male witch is a witch. A warlock is a traitor. Warlock was a term used during witch trials to identify a husband or close male associate suspected of favoring an accused witch. This is a term which goes way back. It does not recognize warlock as being a term to identify anyone in their culture. By the way I should warn you: I worked for Random House one year, editing their dictionary. I had them change their definition of a Privateer, which they identified as a buccaneer; the buccaneers began a century later. Never come up to me with a "the dictionary says..." because I won't take that as gospel.

I wasn't the only one incensed about the term being used, but I was working for one of the colony's neighborhoods, and my discretely reporting it to colony officials was apparently their way to get rid of someone contrary with a false claim of insubordination.

But I digress...

I bring this up because of something similar I am seeing in Second Life with regard to exploitation of a culture...

Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction... The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
Steampunk isn't just rivets and steam and physics. It's about an era of exploration following the discovery of automation and steam power. It's about brass with wood, dials with caligraphy, finely crafted handles and lenses, moulding and metalwork. It's elegant and not post-apocalyptic.

When people drool over something presented by someone in leather with a gajillion piercings that's dingy with gears and piping and has an exhaust and call it Steampunk, I have to roll my eyes. They wish!

This is not Steampunk:

THIS is Steampunk:

Leave the punk in St Mark's Place where it belongs.

No comments:

Post a Comment