Flintstones Steampunk?

As an introductory aside: with the demise of Google+, which was my favourite social network, I've decided to give up all social media for Lent. So far, it's going well.

The first thing I noticed was that it felt like someone had died, and I kept wanting to tell them about things I noticed or thought, and couldn't.

The second thing I noticed was that my mind was a lot quieter when I was meditating. And also when I wasn't meditating.

Then I had some free-floating irritation for a while. Not sure what that is. Stages of grief? Something completely unrelated? Who knows?

But overall, I'm not missing it. Less pointless drama in my life over things I can't affect? Yes, please.

Anyway, I'm thinking that after Lent is over I will not be going back to the same kind of social media use I had before (even if I could find a G+ equivalent). Not sure what the future looks like yet - never ask a science fiction writer to actually predict the future, even of things they'll do themselves - but it may hold more blogging.

Anyway. Recent thoughts about steampunk.

I had an insight yesterday, and revised it this morning.

You remember The Flintstones, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series ostensibly set in the Stone Age, but which was, in all real essentials, a sitcom about a couple of blue-collar families living next door to each other in the suburbs of a contemporary American city, with a light skin of Stone Age over the top? It's right there in the theme song: they're a modern Stone Age family.

My insight yesterday was that a lot of steampunk is like that: ostensibly set in a version of Victorian England, but all the characters and their attitudes and the way the whole thing works are basically contemporary American.

My insight this morning, though, was that The Flintsones was doing it on purpose and consciously, perhaps even as a way of providing some reflective distance from contemporary society (though mostly for the laughs).

The kind of steampunk I'm thinking about does it accidentally, because the authors don't know much about Victorian England, and don't care enough to find out. Or just because they're so unconscious about their own culture that they project its particular details into other times and places, assuming that they're universal. I've seen a tyre swing in the 1870s, folks. A tyre swing!

It's not just steampunk, by the way. Regency romance does it too. In fact, there's a certain kind of author who's just bad at history, the kind of author who will give people born in the 1920s names that were (newly) popular when the author was growing up - whether that's Samantha and Jason for someone my age, or Courtney and Madison for someone a generation younger. (Both real examples, by the way.)

This bothers me, and I mark the books down for it. It doesn't bother everyone. It doesn't bother people who also don't know much history, for example. But it bothers me. (And it bothers Juliet Marillier, a writer I respect very much.)

Spread the word

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting