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Gearheart Challenge: What Cranks Your Gears?

by on Mar.29, 2009, under News

And now for this week’s challenge:

No doubt many of you are into steampunk, and understandably so, but the big question is… why? What draws you to the steampunk aesthetic? Is it the airships? The empires? The brass goggles? What is it exactly that makes it so charming?

When you get your answer, convert it into hexadecimal, then convert that into binary, then use a difference engine to filter that into spetadecimal, then convert it back to plain English and post the result here! I’ll read my favorites on the air next week.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Johnnie A

    It’s not so much the mental picture of empires spreading across continents like mold on an irregular slice of a sixty-day old Colchester cheese, nor is it the proliferation of grimy, pseudo-Dickensian mega-cities drenched in hissing gaslight and dark factories punctuated by the clunk and clank of giant gears, or even the weightily evoked descriptions of ragged people in funny outmoded hats and torn jackets begging for alms or directions to the steam-powered beer vending machine, though arguably that’s part of the appeal. Maybe the appeal for me is nothing more but a bizarre, displaced, emotional nostalgia for an era never experienced by myself (or anyone else for that matter) where being lower-middle class meant in order to get served at the store you had to put on a three-piece suit and uncomfortable hat to go out to buy milk then dodge cylindrical, riveted feet of steam-powered pachyderm-like war machines marching through the streets for the sake of atmosphere while dark, imposing hydrogen-filled airships hover in large numbers above the city like clouds of an approaching storm, no doubt for aesthetic reasons as well. Is steampunk then an attempt for many to hearken back and experience the grand ol’ days our great grandfathers should have had? Is it the bizarre attempt to keep all the gadgets of today and the dreams of tomorrow in the imagined comfort and fashions of yesteryear, and then throwing in crazy adventures to the unexplored reaches beyond the fringes of the civilized world? Who knows? I guess it is the fantastic, slightly ahistorical qualities of the imagery that interests me, as well as the essence and spirit, which at times is reasoned, rational and ponderous, yet sometimes resemble the adventures of Jules Verne pickled in mampoer with psilocybe mushrooms. I’ve always liked this subgenre, even before I knew it was called ‘steampunk’, and I doubt any serious, critical deconstruction would turn me away from it.

  • Rich

    Steampunk seems to be a best-of-both-worlds that blends modern/futuristic technology with more traditional sensibilities. Yes, there is air flight and mechanized servants but there are also buildings that are more than geometric lumps of steel and glass, poetry that still rhymes, hats for men and lace for women, far-flung places that are still unexplored.

    I think people don’t realize how much nihilism the two world wars brought to the public consciousness and how it seemed to require that everything be mass-produced, sanitized and free of embellishment.

    So yes, we want indoor plumbing and electronic gizmos, but we also yearn for a mannered past and real craftsmanship. Steampunk seems to allow that fantasy.

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