Vintage Tomorrows: A Journey Through Steampunk into the Future of Technology
When a historian and a futurist collaborate, you might expect stasis, but Carrott and Johnson postulate nothing less than a new world order in which the best of the past is retained and the worst, unnecessary. Like all revolutions, the changes in manufacturing and transportation that transformed 19th-century Britain benefited certain classes more than others. Victorians may have shared civic and religious values, but a new value, comfort, belonged only to those who could afford servants. Today, advanced technology makes comfort (and creativity and productivity) available to a larger population while traditional values suffer. In order to understand what makes technology destructive, we must understand what makes technology meaningful, which brings us to steampunk.
Forbes calls steampunk “a science fiction/fantasy sub-genre,” but Carrott and Johnson call it an important “subculture.” In order for a subculture to grow, it needs a positive image, which is what the authors have in mind. By shifting popular attention from receiving (information) to creating (something) together, we may regain a sense of community. Written in an entertaining discursive style, scholarly but never staid, Vintage Tomorrows is highly recommended reading.