I remember the smells, the noises, the air of the World's Columbian Exposition. It happened years ago, in 1893, and I can still tell you almost every detail. Over in Britain, while we were fighting the Confederates, a man named "Reginald Hayes" had introduced incredible steam-based contraptions that had never been seen before. As they became more popular, more extravagant things were made by Mister Hayes. Britain's culture and amazing technology spread around the world. They called it the Clockwork Age.
The United States saw some technologies from this; new weapons and llttle things like that. Some richer people had new vehicles. We never really saw the Clockwork Age come our way until that day, though. I was living in Chicago at the time with a humble job. When Chicago won the bid for the World's Fair, I was elated. I saved my pennies for a ticket, just barely scrapping enough by the time it came along. I decided to head down to the fair on a Friday. Traffic was horrible, but it wasn't like I could afford a car at the time.
The fair had food, music, and was practically America personified in a 600 acre area. I was strolling near the new Statue of the Republic when a shadow crawled across the landscape. A massive airship flew over Jackson Park and landed on a temporary dock in the nearby lake. Banners of red, white and blue were draped across the gondola and an intricate mural of Washington had been painted on the massive rigid structure. The letters Columbia triumphantly declared the identity of the ship, written under the mural for the people under the ship to see. The engines roared through the city. I had heard it in the distance, but I didn't think the noise was being produced by such an elegant airship.
Ropes were thrown down as men raced to catch the mooring, tying the ship down as the engines died. I gazed at the airship as elated passengers waved from the various decks on the goldola. Finally, the airship landed and a man in an elegant suit stepped out. People cheered as he waved. Mister R. Hayes himself had just landed at the fair in the most luxurious airship I had ever seen. He stepped to a microphone on the dock near the ship and tapped it before speaking into it.
"People of America! Welcome to the Clockwork Age"
-American Air Transit co-founder George Aleman, 1949
Welcome to the Of Clockwork and Men ATL, which explores the various possibilities of steampunk technologies and their impact on history. While primarily a technological ATL, this timeline will have a historical backstory. We will explore how steampunk technologies change the world, including Britain, the rise of the German Empire, the Old West, and the rise of the United States as a world power. I look forward to seeing the marvelous inventions this wiki can introduce to our fantastic world of clockwork, and long-lasting Victorianism.
What Steampunk Is
First and foremost, steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction in which steam power is heavily utilized. Perhaps better summed up as 'retro-futuristic', it has a heavy influence of Victorianism and is generally set in an alternative universe in which steam power remains the most mainstream source of power. This affects everything, from vehicles to weapons to home appliances to music to even flying machines. It is a completely different culture and lifestyle from what we live today or even what people back in the day lived.
Steampunk, while sometimes elegant at the same time, is gritty and dirty. People working on their various contraptions tend to get dirty and there is a lot of smoke blown around. It has an industrious atmosphere of wealthy upper-class people and lower-class people living in squalor, much like in 19th century Britain. This leads to a rise in piracy; in this case, the pirates take to the air, not to the sea.
What Steampunk is Not:
- Magic (That includes alchemy and other assorted enchantments)
- Contemporary future
- Random object + some unnecessary gears
- Always Gothic
- Always in the Air
- Always in Britain
Think outside the box, people, but keep inside the steampunk atmosphere.
About Our Universe
The PoD is in 1861, when a man named Reginald Hayes introduced a revolutionary invention. This invention was simply an idea never acted upon in our world. Hayes lived as a normal man and died without leaving a footprint on history, forgotten. In this world, however, Hayes, acted on his idea and built the Prometheus Engine, an apparatus that allows for miniaturization of automation. Mechanization of different contraptions followed, making things that required hand cranks to be fully automatic. As the Prometheus Engine was improved, Hayes invented bigger, better things. Noted for its clockwork interior, the Prometheus Engine was applied to more things, automating Britain. Thus began the Clockwork Age.
Hayes designed more and more contraptions; airships, guns, boats, and household objects. Soon, almost everything had been automated. Britain experienced a rebirth in culture and nationalism, which spread around the world. British colonies began to see a similar automation, fusing their cultures with the new clockwork technologies. The United States, rebuilding from the Civil War, slowly integrated the Prometheus Engine into many objects. It wasn't until the 1893 World Fair when the Clockwork Age hit the US fully. Eventually, almost the entire world had been influenced by the Clockwork Age.
As American industry grows and begins to compete with Mister Hayes' contraptions, how will the world of technology be influenced?