1. lastspartacus
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    lastspartacus New Member

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    Modern Day Steam Society?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by lastspartacus, Oct 5, 2012.

    I don't know if there has been a thread posted about this yet, but I am interested, for the sake of building the setting of some books I want to write, in the following thought experiment:

    What would modern technology look like without oil and electricity?

    Old technologies get abandoned as new ones come along, but what if we had further pursued mechanical, steam, and other outdated technologies, not discovering more advanced means of doing things. How many things could we have come up with to do with it? How close could we have come to modern comforts?
     
  2. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    That is what is referred to as Steam Punk. Do a Google Image search and you'll find TONS of interesting artist renditions and actual machines built by people. It's a really interesting sub culture that's taken root, especially in Europe. It's very popular in video games as well. The upcoming title Dishonored has a really cool steam punk kind of feal, you might look up screen shots of that to. There's all kinds of stuff out there, you just gotta know where to look.
     
  3. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    As Phoenix said, this idea is essentially what the Steam Punk genre is. The Steampunk genre used to draw heavily on a Victorian-era/19th century atmosphere, although nowadays there is a gradual shift towards different inspirations from other parts of the world as well. It is such a large genre that how each story deals with technology varies considerably. Some steampunk has elements of fantasy, with magic used as an energy source, for instance (such as the Dwemer in the Elder Scrolls series); other steampunk eschews realism altogether while not exactly adhering to magic fantasy, simply having implausible steam-powered equivalents of modern technology (like, say, giant robots powered by steam); yet other steampunk tries to take a realistic approach, allowing for technologies that would be possible (although perhaps a bit impractical) in our world.

    There is also a variant of steampunk known as clockpunk, in which technology is based not on steam, but the more "primitive" gears and clockwork and that sort of thing - it's often inspired by Da Vinci's inventions (or ideas for inventions) that relied on these sort of mechanisms. It's not as popular as steampunk, but you can find stuff on it here and there. OFten, the boundaries between steampunk and clockpunk - as well as dieselpunk, the equivalent for having technology based only on 1920s-1950s diesel and nothing more "advanced" - are blurry.
     
  4. lastspartacus
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    lastspartacus New Member

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    I'm aware of steampunk, but at least in my experience, its just like Victorian era but with more advanced tech. What I'm thinking of is do you think we had really seen the top limits of steam and clockwork technology, or would later discoveries have led to more efficient machines? Would we have planes, practical cars, some kind of telephone? Would achieving orbit be theoretically possible?
     
  5. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    That is steampunk. Steampunk these days doesn't necessarily mean that there would be steam-powered robots or computers running around - it could also mean an actual attempt to model a world based on the limitation that technology can't get any "better" than steam and clockwork. For instance, the telegraph machine was used as an early instant communication device, and I have in one of my mildly steampunk settings used a variation of that as essentially a dumbed-down internet. I also like to think that some of Da Vinci's ideas, with some changes, could be made to use.

    Does that explain it better, or am I still a bit off?
     
  6. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    There's all kinds of steampunk. It's a very broad category and it doesn't stop with Victorian Era. And isn't that kinda what you mean? More advanced technology based off of steam powered systems? It would probably look alot like Victorian Era with more advanced tech. If you think about it, a lot of the cultural changes in the world are directly traced to proliferation of electricity.

    I believe there is an actual design for a clockwork plane, might even have been built and flown, but I'm not sure... so that seems plausible. A practical car would just need to have a boiler on it, it's been done. As for telephone, it's all electricity... Electric signal sent through to electric driven speakers. Vaccum tubes would work for a local communication system, but over long distances, there would need to be a much more drastic imagining of steam tech to make telephone realistic. If flight is possible, It would seem like orbit would be as well, navigation would be difficult though, and so would reentry without computer controlled vectors. But, steam powered computers aren't that far fetched... so I suppose it's possible. That is all assuming that chemisty and physics progress... electricity helped those two sciences out alot.
     

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