Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Murder by Gaslight

quote [ A compendium of information, resources and discussion on notable nineteenth century American murders.

Walter R. Debbins was shot twice in the back, in broad daylight, on Highland Street in Medford, Massachusetts, on the afternoon of Saturday, March 27, 1897. Though no one saw the murder or heard the gunshots, there was enough traffic on Highland Street that afternoon for the police to precisely pinpoint the time of the shooting to between 1:00 and 1:05. But that was all they could pinpoint; everything else about the crime was shrouded in mystery that grew more dense with each new revelation. ]

Murder mysteries! Always fun.

Please don't get all steampunk-y on this post. Not that it should be called steampunk. Steamsnob, more like it. *shakes fist*
[SFW] [history] [+5 Interesting]
[by azazel@1:32pmGMT]


HP Lovekraftwerk said @ 2:03pm GMT on 14th Apr
azazel said @ 2:16pm GMT on 14th Apr [Score:1 Underrated]
It's an aesthetic, not a literary genre. At a stretch, I *might* allow it as a sub-genre of fantasy (not sci-fi, although I guess sci-fi and fantasy can have a lot of overlap). But even then it's closer to steam-fantasy (or steamsnob) than steampunk. If you're gonna call something "punk", then there's gotta be punk in it.
azazel said @ 2:17pm GMT on 14th Apr

(but in short: I don't mind people who like it as an aesthetic, but don't try and peddle your books as steampunk unless they actually are. That said, Rococopunk is a better aesthetic anyway. AND it's more punk.)
arrowhen said @ 7:40pm GMT on 14th Apr
What I always found interesting about steampunk was that it was a geek fandom with hardly any source material -- it was like people wanted the nerd street-cred of dressing up in costumes and going to conventions and stuff but without the hassle of actually reading a lot of books first. Sure, it seems like there are plenty of steampunk books now, but it seems like most of them came out in response to the hipsters in top hats and googles crowd, rather than being the inspiration for them in the first place.

I suppose another version of that phenomenon would be the "sexy vampire" kids of the 90s; they only had a couple of Anne Rice novels and Vampire: the Masquerade (i.e., Anne Rice: the RPG) to inspire them, but once they'd been around for a while you started to see an explosion of "sexy vampire" novels.
b said @ 10:13pm GMT on 14th Apr
I think steampunk has always been more about the costumes than anything else. A bunch of nerds without a genre who wanted something that was easy to put together (top hats! corsets! googles! fingerless gloves! funny moustaches!) but could look "cool" without having to be true to a source material.

It's really the fandom for unimaginative people. They just take old ideas, add some sort of weird clockwork gears, reference Tesla and Victorian England and show some cleavage and bam! steampunk.

It's a pretty worthless genre, if you ask me, and it was totally ruined before it ever got a chance to be good by the same kind of people that wear hemp pants, bead necklaces and sandals. i.e. white people with dreads.
lilmookieesquire said @ 4:08pm GMT on 15th Apr
I always took it as retro-futurism-parody.
lilmookieesquire said @ 4:11pm GMT on 15th Apr
Kind of like the original airship in final fantasy
b said @ 6:05pm GMT on 16th Apr
Generally, parody requires that you have some insight into your subject matter and a little nod and a wink that what you are doing is taking the piss. There's no way people that like steampunk cosplay are anything but dead serious.
lilmookieesquire said @ 6:11pm GMT on 16th Apr
You're probably right about that. I tend to steer clear of those kind of events
azazel said @ 11:43pm GMT on 14th Apr
Well, you're not wrong.
midden said @ 12:03am GMT on 15th Apr
I was a big fan of Wild Wild West as a kid. The real one with Robert Conrad from the late 60s, not the so-so movie remake from the 90s. With an 1880s Secret Service James Bond (West, James West) with lots of Q-esque gadgets and evil mastermind weapons that attempted to be somewhat period technology compliant, I thought it was wonderful.

My early fantasies of a kick-ass conversion van were based on James' and Artimus' awesome custom train car.
Jack Blue said @ 2:56pm GMT on 14th Apr
Thing with the 1890s and steampunk... I always got the impression that electricity was the cool thing back then. Vernes Nautilus had an electric engine for instance. I always wanted it to be called electropunk.
azazel said @ 3:05pm GMT on 14th Apr
Verne called himself a futurist though.
Jack Blue said @ 3:07pm GMT on 14th Apr
Yeah. Its kind of hard to make a twist on a past that is your present.
cluban said @ 8:54pm GMT on 14th Apr
Didn't this all start with "The Difference Engine" by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson? (And Charles Babbidge)
azazel said[1] @ 11:40pm GMT on 14th Apr
I think infernal devices was the first book actually called steampunk g. The glass hammer was, but they called it cyberpunk. Gibson/Sterling called theirs stamping too, but it was. I feel, more as a nod to Jeter than anything.

Incidentally, those two books (along with Gibson/sterlings) are actual steampunk. that is, they're cyberpunk set in a steam age.

My phone doesn't even recognise the word steampunk. I'm so proud.
midden said @ 12:06am GMT on 15th Apr
See my reply below about Robert Conrad as James West in the late 60s. That's the first fetishy 1800's, steam and electricity fantasy I can think of.
arrowhen said @ 1:05am GMT on 15th Apr
Yes and no? From what I've read, the term originated a couple years before The Difference Engine came out, but didn't really gain traction until later. I know when I first read it in (probably) 1992, I don't remember anyone actually using the word "steampunk" to describe it, we just said stuff like, "cyberpunk, but in the 1800s."

I think of The Difference Engine as basically a cyberpunk novel with a twist to the presentation, like when a rock band does an acoustic version or dance remix of one of their songs: it's the same riffs, just put into a different context. The steampunk that came later (I don't think the whole steampunk "movement", with the costumes and everything, started until something like ten years after Difference Engine) didn't really have those same cyberpunk themes going on -- which only makes sense, given that by then we were already living in a cyberpunk future.

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