vintage tomorrows

  There’s a fine new book: ‘Vintage Tomorrows’ (Carrott & Johnson 2013). Here’s the official description: What would today’s technology look like with Victorian-era design and materials? That’s the world steampunk envisions: a mad-inventor collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions powered by steam and driven by gears. In this book, futurist Brian David Johnson and cultural historian James Carrott explore steampunk, a cultural movement that’s captivated thousands of artists, designers, makers, hackers, and writers throughout the world.     Just like today, the late 19th century was an age of rapid technological change, and writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. … Continue reading

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archæology of steampunk

Just a minute ago I pre-ordered ‘Steampunk: kurz & geek’ (Jahnke & Rauchfuß 2012) after I had read ↑Kueperpunk’s review (he has a reviewer’s copy). It reminded me of Ekaterina Sedia’s introduction (Sedia 2012) in ‘The Mammoth Book of Steampunk’ (Wallace 2012): With the recent release of ↑The Steampunk Bible (ed. Jeff VanderMeer and SJ Chambers [2011]), it seems that steampunk as a genre finally came into its own and has grown enough to demand its own compendium, summarizing various parts of this remarkably protean movement, and pointing out interesting things happening in its DIY culture, cosplay, film, literature and … Continue reading

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harper goff’s nautilus

Just recently we heard that ↵the mash still is safe and sound at the Smithsonian—now there’s even more comforting news. The original model of ↵Captain Nemo’s submarine ‘Nautilus’ designed by ↑Harper Goff and used in ‘↑20,000 Leagues Under The Sea‘ by Richard Fleischer (1954) is kept intact ↑at the Disney Archives. FLEISCHER, RICHARD. 1954. 20,000 leagues under the sea [motion picture]. Burbank: Buena Vista Distribution. via ↑entry at ↑clockworker … Continue reading

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difference engine day

From the ↑Charles Babbage biography at ↑The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive (University of St Andrews, Scotland): Babbage is without doubt the originator of the concepts behind the present day computer. The computation of logarithms had made him aware of the inaccuracy of human calculation around 1812. He wrote in [C Babbage, Passages from the life of a philosopher (London, 1864).]:-     … I was sitting in the rooms of the Analytical Society, at Cambridge, my head leaning forward on the table in a kind of dreamy mood, with a table of logarithms lying open before me. Another member, … Continue reading

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jet age machinery

With all the hype around information technology in all its guises as our times’ core technology, about virtual worlds and social media, Tim Heffernan’s ‘↑The machines that made the Jet Age‘ (a follow-up to his ‘↑Iron Giant‘ in the Atlantic) comes handy as a healthy reality check. Heffernan explains and stresses the role of gigantic forging presses as the machines that made the jet age possible. ‘This is the ↑story of the birth of the Jet Age—but it’s anchored firmly to the ground:’  Isn’t it a wonderful irony [pun not intended] that in order to make machines as light as … Continue reading

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hartmann the anarchist

‘↑Captain Nemo was a technical anarcho-terrorist.’ wrote Bruce Sterling (1991: 39) about the main protagonist of ↑Jules Verne‘s ‘↓20,000 leagues under the sea‘ (1870). The same can be said about the character Robur appearing in Verne’s ‘↓Robur the Conqueror‘ (1886) and its sequel ‘↓Master of the World‘ (1904). By way of his submarine ‘Nautilus’ Captain Nemo rules the oceans. Robur rules everything above through his vessels, the ‘Albatross’ and the ‘Terror.’ Just recently I learned that around the same time yet another literary ‘technical anarcho-terrorist’ appeared: ‘↓Hartmann the Anarchist‘ by Edward Douglas Fawcett (1893): ↑A sensational tale of the evil … Continue reading

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space battleship yamato

This is a moc [my own creation] ↑version of the Space Battleship Yamato by afol [adult fan of LEGO] ↑Mark Rodrigues. The original stems from the ↑franchise of the same name and is itself based on the Imperial Japanese Navy’s ↑Yamato class battleships which were in service during World War II. It’s neither steam- nor dieselpunk, of course, but retrofitted futurism for sure.  … Continue reading

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cyberanthropology reviews

Now that some reviews of my book ‘↑Cyberanthropology‘ have seen the light of day, it makes sense to begin to collect them [naturally they're all in German]:     The Titel-Magazin was first with ↑Ein Buch mit System! (27 September 2011). As short as enthusiastic—and it is very short.     Next came Karl-Heinz Kohl’s review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: ↑Völkerkunde war gestern, Cyberanthropology ist heute (16 November 2011). Unfortunately behind a paywall on the FAZ-server, but buecher.de has the ↑full text of the review online (and perlentaucher.de posted a ↑short notice).     On 30 November 2011 SWR2 … Continue reading

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punk galore

[As ↵the question crept up, I thought it to be timely to complete a post which I began to draft in December last year ... in between it found its way into my book ↑Cyberanthropology (Knorr 2011; in German). So, the following more or less is the English version of a snippet of the book's third chapter, which is on the cyberpunk discourse.] In 1991 ↑The Difference Engine (Gibson & Sterling 1991), a collaborative novel by ↑William Gibson and ↑Bruce Sterling, was published. The story is set in 19th century Great Britain, but—and that’s the core idea—Victorian society hasn’t developed … Continue reading

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