Here’s an interesting notion: Say we’re looking back at a different 19th century, one in which steam-driven machinery achieved unheard-of technological leaps; where Babbage’s Difference Engine did not lose its funding, but–spurred by an open-handed Treasury and Lady Ada Lovelace’s unfettered programming imagination– launched the Computer Age a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule; and where alchemy, mysterious invisible plasmas, and a weird sort of rational magic all made the world a very different place. That, of course, is a pretty standard Steampunk vision. Or at least it’s mine.
For just a moment, though, let’s go beyond the steamy science and gear-driven tech (and the fetching goggles) and think about that culture from a different perspective. What, for instance, might depictions of children’s fairy tales or classic works of literature look like in such an alternate Victorian society? How would dark and mechanical steampunk tropes and stereotypes leak into that world?
Well ponder no more, inquisitive seeker of steampunk symbology! Here’s a random selection of possibilities:
Prince Charming tries the steampunk slipper on a scullery maid whose clothes mysteriously disappeared sometime earlier, in “Cinderella”