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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?"
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September 30 2008

Geek Chic: Nerds who Dress the Part, but Still Look Cool. A certain woman-loving witch and band of Browncoats make the grade as 'honorable mentions.'

Buffy and firefly exposure is always a good thing. But calling the crew of Serenity "steam punk" is streaching the meaning of the word just a tad.
What is the meaning of "steam punk?"
This may help with sorting out steampunk. Certainly far more eloquent than I could manage with a simple definition. And yes, it is a stretch to put the FF 'verse in SP.

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/monologues/25steampunk.html
Yeah it stretches it, maybe not to breaking point but pretty close. Steam-punk, like cyber-punk, always seemed a very urban idea to me - the outfits in 'Firefly' are too rural, even aside from being from the American West (I don't think steam-punk necessarily needs to be from Victorian Britain though, you could easily have US based steam-punk stories - and probably do, it's not a sub-genre i'm a particular fan of).

I think the insight about not thinking about it too much pretty much captures "geek-chic". Einstein famously had a wardrobe full of the same outfit so he didn't have to waste any time wondering what to wear and that meets the stereotype of how geeks dress (which is what this is about I reckon, not real life).

And good to see they've given up on the remake madness and just decided to show the UK 'The IT Crowd' in the US. Geek humour is fairly universal I think, it'll translate just fine (within that niche audience).
some of our favorite fashion-challenged geeks, stoners, nerds, drones and slackers

That's an awfully broad group. (from Dwight Schrute to Juno?) And still hard to fit the Serenity crew into it.
I know that the word "steam punk" has gotten a bit watered down nowadays but in my world it still has a huge dose of Victorian Gothic to it.
You know what has some steampunk elements to it? That David Lynch version of Dune from the mid-80s, the one with Kyle McLaughlin and Jose Ferrer. Lots of gold pipes everywhere, with ornate doorways even on the spaceships.
I have to say, the Serenity crew may or may not be steampunk-y (I could see the argument, at least).

But they're not nerds, except maybe Simon... and possibly Wash.
Jim in buffalo; I've never been able to wade thru any of herbert's books except Dune Messiah but I think it was in keeping with what Herbert had in mind for that particular alternate future

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2008-10-01 01:02 ]
I think steampunk is fascinating. I've seen and heard it used in different ways, though. Just mixing old and new technology can be called steampunk, though I'm not sure that's technically correct.

It came from Cyberpunk, which are stories set in the dystopian future when cyberspace rules. Usually involving computer hackers and corrupt governments.

Another cool spinoff is magepunk.

An oversimplified way to describe these "punks" are:

cyberpunk: technology powered by digital information (cyber space)
steampunk: technology powered by steam (usually set in Victorian age)
magepunk: technology powered by magic

Here's a good link.

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