Is steampunk the new Gothic? On a recent trans-Atlantic flight I started to reread Michael Moorcock’s brilliant Wizardry and Wild Romance and was struck by the following passage:
[Gothic romances] did not merely look back to “romantic, antique days”…they added something novel in the emphasis given to natural (if often idealized) scenery as a means of expressing the moods of the characters…The popularity of the Gothic rose as the impact of the Industrial Revolution increased, reflecting, symbolizing and even explaining the anxiety felt by those who witnessed radical changes in the world they knew.
Now fast forward a hundred some-odd years. Is steampunk simply the modern incarnation of the Gothic novel? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it probably is. This raises several questions:
- How does steampunk resemble Gothic?
- How does steampunk diverge from Gothic?
- What lessons can we draw from Gothic’s history and apply to steampunk’s future?