Hello again. I hope you guys had a good week. There are still plenty of tips I can give people who are curious about writing steampunk fiction. Some components are very stylistic to steampunk and other genres in science fiction. Retro futurism is an important part of steampunk in literature, cinema, gaming, and cosplay. What on earth is retro futurism? Read the rest of this post and find out. I'll try to make sure it's not confusing.
Firstly, I want to get a technical element out of the way. I have seen more than one spelling for retro futurism. Sometimes, it's one word; retrofuturism. Other times, it has a hyphen; retro-futurism. You can split it into two words; retro futurism. Realistically, that part doesn't matter. You just need to understand the broad concept. Retro futurism falls into one of two categories. It can be a past time period that appears very futuristic. The second choice is a distant future that is emulating an older time period.
How does this concept apply to steampunk? Retro futurism is actually a classic element in steampunk fiction. Most of the time, steampunk novels take place in an alternate version of the Victorian era, Wild West, or Edwardian era. Steampunk takes the steam power, clothing, political elements, and culture of the 19th century and adds many science fiction elements. Technology is usually very advanced in steampunk fiction. In fact, steampunk technology is more advanced than anything we've seen in the modern era. Transportation in steampunk literature is unique and fantasy driven with high powered zeppelins, submarines, and locomotives that function as super vehicles. They're usually very fast, heavily armed, and nearly indestructible. Steampunk weapons are usually pistols, canons, rotary guns, crossbows, rifles, and other items from the 19th century. However, they tend to have a futuristic component with greater accuracy and more firepower. It's not unusual to see hybrid weapons, like something that functions as both a crossbow and gun. Naturally, none of these weapons were real in the 19th century, but they're commonplace in retro futuristic works. It's also typical to see grand metropolises that are far more advanced than real version of Victorian London and such. Buildings are often constructed with futuristic clockwork mechanics, colossal, and designed to sustain major devastation. The same is true about bridges and other structures. I wish our modern infrastructure could be so impressive.
Retro futurism also goes to huge extremes with concepts like genetic engineering and mad science. Steampunk works often have mutations and abominations that are the product of genetic engineering. Some authors call these creatures homunculi, but that's not a universal term. You have the liberty to call these creatures anything. Humans can also have major body modifications like mechanical limbs, computerized parts, animal hybridization, and more. Cyborgs are normally an invention in cyberpunk fiction, but they're becoming more common in steampunk books. Artificial intelligence is also commonplace in steampunk. Robots and automatons are used for many things. They function as servants, soldiers, construction workers, etc. Time travel and interdimensional traveling are also retro futuristic elements. They're staples in steampunk fiction. Time machines are often used to change history or correct mistakes. Genetic engineering, time machines, and artificial intelligence are definitely futuristic elements that we see in steampunk fiction, but they're not realistic. These elements didn't exist in the 19th century and it gives a strong futuristic element to steampunk books. Basically, you're looking at a past time period that has both luxuries and horrors that we haven't seen yet.
Let's flip the concept around. A futuristic time period with antiquated elements also fits within retro futurism. It will have the same concepts I listed above. Things like genetic engineering, time travel, and huge metropolises make sense for a time period that takes place in the future. Elements like Victorian fashion, steam power, and industrialization give the future an outdated appearance. Here's one of the things to keep in mind if you want to write about a distant retro future. There needs to be a reason for the world to regress or it won't make any sense. I'll drop a couple examples for you. My own book series takes place in the future and the majority of people in the United States are reviving certain elements from the Victorian era. After nationwide terrorism, anarchy, and violence tore our civilization apart, the survivors wanted to change the entire American culture. They wanted to move away from the ideals and values that led to such instability. Perhaps, taking some influences from the past to create a new genteel culture will bring peace to the nation. If they're going to adapt a lot of elements from the 19th century and Romantic period, it makes sense for the characters to bring a lot of Victorian components to their wardrobe and infrastructure. Keep in mind that mankind is far more advanced on a technological level in my series because the plot takes place in the future. It gave me a lot of liberties in terms of elaborate anachronisms, weapons, transportation, and architecture.
Retro futurism doesn't have to be limited to steampunk either. There's a really cool video game called Zero Horizon Dawn. It's basically a future Stone Age. The game takes place some time in the future after all forms of civilization collapsed. The protagonist is a cave woman who's using remnants of futuristic technology and her hunting skills to survive in a harsh environment. Robot dinosaurs and various types of prey are running amok on the terrain. Overall, you can still tell it's the future because remnants of our civilization and technology are scattered throughout the game. Also, the world is controlled by machines and that's another indicator of a futuristic setting. I thought the idea of primitive humans living a thousand years in the future was an interesting concept.
That concludes my post about retro futurism. I hope your head isn't spinning too much. Leave a comment if you want to say anything. Maybe we can have a little discussion about this topic. I'm going to leave some links about retro futurism on the bottom. Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and stay tuned for more awesome topics.
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