In my last journal, I mentioned “Teslapunk,” a technological suite created in an alternate history, perhaps where Nikola Tesla did not emigrate to the US, but to the Russian Empire, where he creates the Great Imperatorskoy Akademiya Gal’vanizatziya! Hailed as the “Father of Modern Russia,” his fame and fortune grow, at least until he gets involved with a group of crazy students, and comes up against the scheming spiritualist Rasputin…
Quotable quotes: “…more coal to the flywheels, Sasha! We must have the Death Beam charged before the agents of the Moon Kremlin arrive!”
Well, this sort of nonsense got thinking, and he noted me with some truly amazing Alt-punk ideas. Continue, if you dare!
(stuff in quotes is from )
Rocketpunk: “Where project Orion actually got off the ground, making manned interplanetary travel a reality in the present.” Perhaps, (as in Baxter’s Anti-ice), there’s some useful resource in orbit or on the moon. Or at the height of the space-race, we get signals from an alien artifact in the outer solar system? Or maybe the partial nuclear test ban treaty of 1963 was “written differently, perhaps with exceptions for the project, then maybe we would have not only gone to the Moon by the end of the 1960’s but also to Mars by the end of the 1970’s. Who knows, maybe we would have even launched a Daedalus style probe to another solar system before the end of the 20th century.”
Quotable quotes: “…precious unobtanium…” I mean, “Harr, Admiral Prosper, so we meet again.” “Captain Plutonium, I should have known it was you behind this ambush the moment you fired upon the ambassador.” “A regrettable mistake, admiral, I assure you. Just like this one” BEEP “Another EMP, admiral! We’ve lost the main computer!” “Damn you Plutonium!”
Babbagepunk: “with an “information age” taking off 100 years earlier, using mechanical analog computers.” See Charles Stross, Michael Flynn, and Sean McMullen.
Quotable quotes: “Your task is misguided, human. Soon you shall come to accept the superiority of the diode.” “Oh yeah, you murderous, cold-hearted monsters? Let’s see how you like chewing on THIS punchcard!” “Nooo!”
Bikepunk: “a “post-apocalyptic” type setting where fossil fuels are exhausted and human-powered vehicles (bicycles) are the predominant means of transportation.”
Oh yeah! After some friends who ride tandem bikes told me they regularly pass cars on the road (!), I found out that two or three people on a bike can maintain speeds of like 50mph. And the best part is that bicycles weren’t invented because of application of a new understanding of science, but more or less by accident. www.nsmb.com/trail_tales/drais… So they might have been invented at any time, by anyone (the pre-columbian Americas?). My next idea involves aliens on Router who domesticate humans as mounts, then get the idea of bicycle-cavalries…
Quotable quotes: “The Europeans? No, we will not go to THEM for help. 15 years ago we got bicycles from them then the Riders got bicycles from us. The Rider Empire has annexed three human cities and even now besieges another.” “But it is the bicycles that let us fight back, father.” “Oh. Good. Their technology allows us to survive some of the disasters it creates. We will talk of this no more.”
Beastpunk: “a setting where domestication of mega-fauna has many labor-saving result that have yet to be supplanted by heavy machinery, this could be because of a “humans with dinosaurs” setting, or it could be a world where ice-age mega-fauna never went extinct, or even a colonized alien planet with native mega-fauna the colonist have adopted in lieu of technology.”
This would make a lot of sense in a colony where people have need of heavy machinery, but don’t have the infrastructure together to build it. Stirling has brain-hacking kits to turn (Venusian) dinosaurs into earth-moving equipment. Weapons of war?
“What? What is it?” “I…impossible!” “Give me the damn binoculars…my God. I haven’t seen this since…corporal! Get riders onto the Triceratops! Now!” “What? What is it?” “Thunder-lizard-tanks.”
Gaiapunk: “a post peak-oil semi-apocalyptic setting where people depend or “personal” and “small scale” green power sources like solar and wind, fossil fuels have been exhausted and further nuclear disasters have made nuclear power unpopular, making energy a valuable resource.” If we don’t invent a way to store calories that’s as good as petroleum, we’ll have to depend on energy produced when needed. I think we would get intense urbanization, with people clustering around energy-production facilities. Perhaps something like high-tech city-states surrounded by lowtech farmland. Perhaps we choose to abandon of consumer culture, “arising from a both anti-socialist and anti-corporate or anti-consumerist movement. Possibly the result of continuing economic disasters and popular dissatisfaction with the solutions of both sides.” No more planned obsolescence, no more competition, no more R&D. Instead, appliances are made by guilds. A journeyman built car is a work of art, will last forever, and costs a million dollars.
“Michael watched as the guards prodded the prisoner forward with their machine guns. Bootleggers had built an illegal automobile, filled it with petroleum stolen from the Baron, and driven it fifteen miles before the men from the City shot it. Only one bootlegger survived the explosion, but the Barons doctors used their potions and their exrays, and healed him enough so that he could die again by the headsman’s axe. ‘I almost got away,’ said the bootlegger before his blood stained the stones at the center of the village. Then Michael went home to supper. He was nine.” Dun dun DUN!
Atom-punk. Cold fusion wasn’t a hoax! in 1988, Fleischmann and Pons revolutionize energy-production, and by 2010, every home has its own Mr. Fusion. Rather than the decentralization of information via the internet, the 1990s saw the decentralization of energy, via the Dyson-mesh. State-run economies fall, and even the democratic world slips out of control. Rule of law struggles to limit the imperatives of the free market, and we learn the limitations of libertarianism.
Quotes: “‘coons in the henhouse! Jeffry, fire up the laser!”
Cog-punk: The makers of the Baghdad Batteries lived at the same time as the makers of the Antikythera mechanism, and only 1200 miles away. What if they had better communication?
“The upstart Romans think themselves a match for Arshak, Mechanic of Parthia? Well, let them come, and learn as other have to bow before the awesome clockwork armies of the Mechanism!”
Eastpunk: “An alternate history where the technological rise of China and east Asia never slowed down and the west never surpassed them. Imagine the Japanese founding their one “13 colonies”, but on the west coast. Imagine modular Junk-style steamships. Imagine Buddhist missionaries sent to civilize the “savage” European nations.” Perhaps because there was no Mongol Empire (see bensen-daniel.deviantart.com/j… or, perhaps the Mongol Empire never fell, but instead fulfilled its destiny as an engine of commerce and technology, creating a Muslim-Indian-Chinese economic juggernaut that conquers Europe. The Americas are discovered late (why waste time exploring the ocean when all of your best trade is through the Bosporus?), and the natives are quickly passified. All but the Irish-Viking-Protuguese-Algonquin states on the East Coast.
“The East-coast Barbarians? Yes, I’ve spent time among them. Horrible people. They smell of cheese.”