PS – this is the geekiest thing I’ve ever written, and I love it.
PPS – If you don’t want to read this you can just skip to the end for the tracks ;)
So I’ve always liked the idea of alternative history, and being of a writerly background I felt compelled to come up with a way for “Steampunk” to have been (or I guess those who are train spotting would say “you mean Dieselpunk”, I saw, whatever). It’s fairly simple, you need three components to have something of a 2009 in the vein of 1889.
1 – No Plastics
2 – Virtually no middle class
3 – Conservative, fatalist cultural basis
How could this be? Well imagine this thoroughly unscientific but, at least I think, literarily interesting theory.
Hitler doesn’t die at the end of WWII but secretly escapes with a small band to Switzerland where he builds up enough political clout to form a resistance movement and restart WWII, but this time he has very little man-power and resources and becomes more of a rebel army group and begins fighting both the west and east using guerrilla tactics such as planted bombs, raids on remote villages etc etc.
The inherent tension between east and western Europe is brought to the boiling point, western Europe is utterly decimated and the attacks from the Nazi rebels are hindering any chance for it to build a healthy economy so the United States steps in and takes “control” of western Europe under their suggestion of Roosevelt’s cabinet. Roosevelt declares a state of “world emergency” and remains president indefinitely. Meanwhile Soviet Russia has built an entire wall down their side of Europe creating a DMZ between the east and the west where constant guerrilla warfare turns the entire middle corridor of Europe into a wasteland.
Thus the fifties as known today, when polymer technology became offered to the consumer, when mass-production became standard, when we had a booming economy and bolstering middle class, never happens. Because of the prolonged war and the not-so-subtle fall of a Democratic base in the western world, the world economy utterly collapses. Japan becomes a feudal state, all European troops that were once in the middle east, Africa and non-Chinese Asia are pulled back home and America sets up garrisons throughout to battle encroaching Soviet influence.
And most of all, instead of the American idea of progress and hope, America becomes the center for aristocracy and power. All European aristocracy move to America where the American government sets up them nicely. The once possible middle class collapses into simply the “poor” and the “wealthy”. Due to a lack of state infrastructure and funds the federal government takes over all public utilities and then rations them.
Now since there is no middle class there is no economic incentive to sell anything that’s plastic or create mass production. Thus everything is made with – metal and wood, on top of that metal and wooden appliances and the like, at a certain size, eat up a lot of electricity, since electricity is rationed people use fuel or steam power when they can. Also, TVs take up a lot of electricity, as do refrigerators, so people revert to using radios and ice-boxes. Cars are rare, airplanes are no longer cost affective so people take trains everywhere and the wealthy fly in airships, which, though slower, are cheaper to fly.
On top of that a fatalist mentality enters the western world and thus – popular rock (which does happen – jazz and big band have been established, forget this not) isn’t upbeat and happy but sounds like this.
If you like these guys you can buy their stuff HERE.
Told you I’d get to the music part ;)
On a side note – it’s the end of the world.