Friday, 13 February 2009

Retropolis - The Future that Never Was

I cannot describe how much I love this site! I discovered it a while ago, and have been treating it as a guilty pleasure, but it is time more people knew about this fantastic place.

This is the world I was promised I'd be living in by now - a glistening utopia of man and robot living in harmony, homosapiens having escaped the earthly bounds and struck for the heavens, forever pushing the frontiers, and asking the question "Hmm, I wonder what's over there?"

As so elegantly put, "If we look back at what we thought was going to happen, then by now we would have had our own personal rocket ships and faithful robot companions; we'd have been blasting out full tilt in time-speed-distance rallies between the moons of Mars, filling up our retro rockets at Interstellar Gulf's hygienic and modern filling stations, and - every now and then - engaging in a heated ray gun battle with the forces of evil. We'd know who they were because they'd be green, they'd have the wrong number of eyes, and they'd be clutching shrieking - if politically undeveloped - space women in tight-fitting outfits."

The Future is, sadly, indeed not what it used to be. We should be out there by now.

As so succinctly put, it's not rocket science. Well, it is, but you know what I mean...

So, please, visit Retropolis, browse, shop, buy, and make the world of tomorrow a reality today!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Once you eliminate the impossible,

whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
Ah, if only Sir Conan had realised what import his protagonists words might have!

Those of you who are cognisant of recent SF publications, or who have made it to the back pages of the Steampunk anthology Extraordinary Engines (ed. Nick Gevers), will recognise this new anthology which has as its premise the detection of crime in alternative histories.

From the Solaris stable, Sideways in Crime, edited by Lou Anders, brings a host of exciting authors such as Di Filippo, Resnick and Baxter together from across the range of traditional science fiction to steampunk in one volume. If you are not titillated by the cover illustration, then life must surely have lost its allure!

More collaborations are anticipated, so watch this space...

Voices from the Past

I discovered the website of the Mercury Theatre some time ago, but have only recently thought about it in terms more closely related to steam- and dieselpunk.

The Mercury is most famous for the War of the Worlds broadcast which held America in such thrall, and Orson Welles and associates such as Agnes Moorehead, Bernard Herrmann, and George Coulouris produced some of the most memorable radio plays of the late 1930s.

The site holds real audio and MP3s of most of their broadcasts, which include adaptations of classic stories which have influenced the development of steam-and dieselpunk, such as the 39 Steps, Heart of Darkness , Rebecca and The Immortal Sherlock Holmes.
It is well worth a visit, and immersing yourself in the sounds of bygone ages - free to download, you can carry the atmosphere of the wireless as you busy yourself in the modern age.


For those Ripperologists out there (yes, I'm a bit of an amateur), you may want to pass your eyeballs across this British ITV three-part drama, Whitechapel.

I say 'may want to', as by all accounts it's fascinatingly poor, and weirdly condescendingly addictive - the plot is pretty obvious, the acting awful and awkward, but it's still enjoyable. Critics in the UK can't make up their minds whether they like it or hate it, and tend to say 'both'.

The basic premise is that identical murders (down to the number and location of stab wounds) to the Ripper's are committed on the same sites and on the same dates, and a new 'rising star' police inspector and a wizzened older police sergeant lead a team to investigate. On the plus side, it does have Steve Pemberton (of 'League of Gentlemen' fame) as the expert Ripperologist, and the Ripper character remains an cape-and-aproned mystery thus far.

There have been better uses of the Ripper legend, as the interplay between past and present is woefully underused, but this will do for now!