The Crossroads of the Aether
Here we are, happily dawdling in our fantastical and generally wondeful victorian Steampunk ways, but has anyone given any thought to the future? We know in this guture that Steam power is not the best for the enviroment, so what would become of our teampunk personas in a Steampunk future in which the past has been run on steam?
What would a future as a Steam powered world hold? What new discoveries would befall us? What would we do if something went wrong with our planet?
I shall let you, and your personas, pick up the pieces of this query and decide for yourselves what comes after the victorian Steampunk.
I think that the future of Steampunk is going to be HUGE!!!!!!!
Well, I'm tempted to make the obvious quip (The future isn't what it used to be) but it occurs to me that the best traits of the Victorian weltanschauung pertained to their belief in progress, the perfectibility of human knowledge and capabilities, and, among the more forward thinking (dare I say futurist) among them, these attitudes extrapolated into their understanding of justice, and LEF (liberte´, egalite´, fraternite´). Before there was Verne, there were Dickens and Darwin. The Victorians would have moved on more quickly toward other solutions if they had had the computing power and ways of thinking that it engenders as explored in The Difference Engine, for instance.
I can't imagine that more communication and power for statistical analysis would have left crude pseudoscientific ideas like morphological eugenics in place long enough to offer validation to fascist analyses of race and so on. Perhaps we'd have dodged a bullet.
Alternately, I could imagine that the arguments between religion and science might have become more explosive and panicky. we could have had different world wars.
I also think of what might have been different in America. The seat of industry here was always Northern, and the Union would have had a bigger and more profound advantage with computing power, if had even come to that.
Culturally, I think music, art, and literature were exploding in any case and this would have been exponentially greater under the imagined circumstances.
It is difficult to extrapolate about how all of this might have affected us environmentally. Much depends even now on human observation. How do we make decisions about what we will examine and explore? These are the decisions that determine our future. It is the same both for scenarios in steampunk narratives, and for the future of the current cultural/subcultural phenomenon of steampunk itself.
It amazes me that SP is the manifestation of fiction thought up from a historical perspective (Victorian). And that brought about culture, style, music, fashion, movie mythos. Why talk of the future? Enjoy the evolutions that SP brings about. It's here to stay and isn't going anywhere. And, um...since when has steam been bad for the environment? In what ways? Just wondering...
Steam rich empires would start to begin a domination of the world economy - New Zealand and Iceland would rise to the fore. Those that need to generate steam by burning will suffer economic collapse as resources dwindle - accumulated condensation from cold steam will contribute to the rising seas and frankly it will get pretty horrid.
...the development of fuels based on animals feces...that's right...PoopPunk!
Methane from food animals like pigs and chickens will power tiny caloric engines built in India (cause they have an excellent working relationship with their cows!) bringing the wold powers closer...and resulting in a global war of dominance and economic competition unrivaled by all previous human conflicts. Death will rain from the sky, weapons of mass destruction will be developed and the nations of the world will crack the genetic code that allows the creation of giant animals in an attempt to create larger sources of natural fuel.
This will of course backfire, accidentally creating a race of giant highly intelligent super pigs who will overthrow the human race and become the new masters of earth, subjugating mankind into a slave race who are force to eat people-bacon for the amusement of their hog overlords...
I, for one, welcome our new porcine overlords.
ok, I got this one. MST3K, during the KTMA era, riffed a movie called "Humanoid Woman", a Swedish P.O.S. that was just... well, it was on MST3K. Anyway, there is a bit in the movie where some "Planet Cleaner Upper" guys go to a planet that had devastated itself with it's own pollution. The populace was forced to live in bombed out buildings, wearing old fashioned gas masks and protective rubber suits. When the planet cleaners arrived, the populace greeted them by playing their national anthem using old phonographs lined up along a castle wall. That vision was stuck in my head for a steamworld run out of steam.