It’s steampunk week on Tor.com, and I have the first post: Boldly Into Our Patina’d Future: How Steampunk Can (Help) Save the World.
Steampunk is, in part at least, a re-envisioning of humanity’s interaction with the things that we make and how we make them. It’s a non-luddite critique of technology that says “Hey, you’re doing it wrong” without trying to eschew technology outright. And that critique is sorely, sorely needed, now more than ever.
We live in a civilization built on an insane and compulsive relationship with technology. Industrialized production creates objects and hopes for demand instead of making things as they are needed or desired. This is backwards and dangerous. It overtaxes our resources—hell, it treats the Earth and all the wonders within it as “resources” instead of beautiful and unique things—and is directly responsible for desertification, global warming, deforestation, mass extinction, mountaintop removal, and any number of grievous crimes against the natural world. It’s economically insane, too. It’s led us to the place where our economy requires growth in order to remain stable. And by producing without regard for demand, we’re stuck with boom-and-bust cycles that drive all but the richest among us further into poverty.
And you know what else? It’s boring. Monoculture is banal. Not only do all the cars look more or less the same, we’re all only using cars to get around. People talk about flying cars sometimes but all I want is to get across the country on a zeppelin powered by passive solar technology. Is that so much to ask?