I self-identify as a steampunk, but the term “punk,” might be a bit of a misnomer.
Don’t get me wrong. I have endless respect for the real pioneering punks who created a counter-cultural movement powered by steam. But like many later-comers to the scene, I’m a bit more in tune with its future-retro art aesthetic than the cultural critique at its core.
So in my case (and I think I’m not alone?), the word “punk” stands more for “power.” Because in each of the genres that have sprung from this movement, the logic of the storyworld (and the culture around it) hinges on a power source. Think about it:
- clockpunk (really, clockworkpunk)
I’ve even started writing musclepunk, a subgenre in which ancient societies use human power to run fantastical machines.
The bottom line is: for me, being “punk” is about writing fiction that revolves around a power source that drives progress.
The biggest challenge and joy of this kind of punk is inventing the ingenious machines that allow characters to engage in futuristic activities with old-time gadgets. So wouldn’t it be nice to have an inspiring source for researching real old-time gadgets that were ahead of their time? After all, as they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.
Enter Low-Tech Magazine.
I recently discovered this fantastic online resource and its wealth of information on engineering from all eras. There are even articles about modern low- or no-tech alternatives to our digital age. And if you have any doubt as to whether it’s “punk” enough, consider the tag line:
“We refuse to assume every problem has a high-tech solution.”
So for all of you whose “punk” leanings are channeled mostly into our storyworlds . . . fuel your storytelling inspiration at Low-Tech Magazine.
It’s the punk thing to do.