2008/06/23

Taking Notes: 'Introduction: The 19th-Century Roots of Steampunk' (2008) by Jess Nevins

本文權充 Ann & Jeff VanderMeer 所主編的 Steampunk 合輯卷首介紹文,放在編者序的後面,一樣有定義次文類的作用。本篇的要旨在於介紹 steampunk 與十九世紀所風行的 the Edisonade 文類之間的關連與傳承,並比較其異同。對於 steampunk 的發展史有正本清源的功效。本文由編纂 The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana 的 Jess Nevins 所撰,更顯其權威。以下畫重點:

閱讀出處:
Jess Nevins, "Introduction: The 19th-Century Roots of Steampunk" in Ann & Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), Steampunk (San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2008), pp. 3-11.

p. 3
說明 steampunk 文類的開始與世代區分:
...... The first generation of steampunk stories and novels began appearing in the late 1970s, but the genre went through a proto phase in which novels like Ronald Clark's Queen Victoria's Bomb (1969) and Michael Moorcock's The Warlord of the Air (1971) had the basic elements of the genre but lacked its core conceits or ideology. Steampunk's first generation culminated with Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine (1990), still the finest expression of the genre yet written.〔所以誰再說 Gibson & Sterling 這本是第一部 steampunk 作品,那傢伙的可信度就頗值得懷疑。〕The second generation of steampunk writers followed Gibson and Sterling a few years later and took the genre in a number of different directions.
事實上 steampunk 的歷史要追溯至十九世紀的 dime novel:
...... A proper history of steampunk must begin in the 19th century with dime novels, for it is there that steampunk's roots lie, and it is dime novels which the first generation of steampunk writers were reacting against.

開始介紹 The Edisonade 文類:
  The American cult of the scientist and the lone inventor grew through the 19th century, and examples of it can be found in relatively mainstream writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Howthorne, and Oliver Wendell Holmes (in Elsie Venner, 1861). But the image of the lone inventor as a heroic protagonist (as opposed to the Gothic-influenced villains and anti-heroes of Mary Shelley and Fitz-James O'Brien) gained a surprisingly large amount of its power, within science fiction and without, from the Edisonade.

  The term "Edisonade" was coined by John Clute after the "Robinsonade," or stories about lone travelers stranded on remote islands, in the vein of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. An Edisonade is a story in which a
p. 4
young American male invents a form of transportation and uses it to travel to uncivilized parts of the American frontier or the world, enrich himself, and punish the enemies of the United States, whether domestic (Native Americans) or foreign. ......
以下詳細介紹 The Edisonade 的早期發展歷程。除了考古以外,不是很重要。

p. 5
The Edisonade 是否可視為科幻的考量:
...... The content of the Edisonade was scientific, of course, and made use of possible extrapolations of current technology. But, more important to critics, the writers of the Edisonades were aware that they were writing something distinct from ordinary fiction. As has been argued elsewhere, it may not be possible for science fiction to have existed
p. 6
as a separate genre before the concept of science fiction was articulated, but the writers of the Edisonades knew that they were writing stories like Ellis' and Senarens', and like Jules Verne's, and not like mainstream fiction writers'. This consciousness of writing in a distinct mode, with accepted tropes and formula, is relevant to discussions of definitions of science fiction, and is why the Edisonade deserves inclusion into the ranks of science fiction.
世紀之交,The Edisonade 也發生轉化:
...... With the closing of the American frontier the setting for the Edisonade story was forced to shift, and it became the hidden cities of Lost Races (lost, forgotten, or hidden peoples surviving in remote areas long past the time when they died out in reality) and more overtly science fictional environments, such as fictional lands and other planets, rather than real countries.
進入二十世紀,開始區分為 the Adult Edisonade 和 the Juvenile Edisonade,先介紹 the Adult 的部分:
  In the 20th century the Edisonade mutated and split into two parallel (and interbreeding) species. The first variety was the Adult Edisonade. The Adult Edisonade was the Edisonade in mainstream science fiction, written for adults and intended to be consumed by them. Its protagonists were usually adlut male inventors, and while the stories retained an America-centric attitude and the politics remained xenophobic, the themes changed. 〔舉例〕...... The Adult Edisonade is a logical development following the emergence of science fiction for adults, but the Adult Edisonade was also influenced by the work of Jules Verne, who twice wrote proto-Edisonades. 〔舉 Verne 的作品範例〕......
p. 7
...... In both cases the premise of the story -- man creates machine which he uses as a weapon against the world -- provided a template for later Adult Edisonades. But Verne's protagonists are misanthropes and isolationists, quite unlike the expansionist Americans of the dime novel Edisonades. What 20th-century science fiction writers took were the trappings of Verne and the ideology of the Edisonades.
The Juvenile Edisonade:
  The other version of the Edisonade, which appeared alongside the Adult Edisonade was the juvenile variety, typified by the Tom Swift stories. ......

  The Juvenile Edisonade, while never a major branch of science fiction, has continued on into the present, in modified form, in works like the cartoon Dexter's Laboratory and the film and TV series about "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." The Adult Edisonade is somewhat more vital, continuing on in media from comic books to space opera of the more pulpish variety. The Heroic Engineer of pulp science fiction, and his descendants in contemporary science fiction, is in a direct evolutionary line from Verne's work and from the Edisonade.

開始探討 steampunk 和 Edisonade 的關係:
...... steampunk as a full-fledged genre began in the late 1970s and early 1980s when science fiction took a recursive turn and began incorporating themes, motifs, and tropes from its own past to a much greater degree than previously. Cyberpunk emerged as a reaction to and conversation with many of the assumptions and biases of science fiction in the 1940s and 1950s, while space opera, heavily influenced by its pulp origins but altered to reflect the times, gained renewed popularity in the 1980s. For its part
p. 8
steampunk turned to the 19th century and the Victorians -- and, consciously or unconsciously, the Edisonades.

第一代與第二代 steampunk 對 Edisonade 的態度與轉化:
  Few if any of the steampunk writers would have read the Edisonades, and it was only the first generation of steampunk writers, beginning with James Blaylock, K. W. Jeter and Tim Powers in the late 1970s and ending with Sterling and Gibson's The Difference Engine in 1990, who were doing the arguing. Just as second generation cyberpunk writers like Neal Stephenson and Jeff Noon stepped away from cyberpunk as an ideological genre, second generation steampunk authors have changed steampunk from an argument to a style and a pose, even an affection. But, however unconsciously, first generation steampunk writers used steampunk to invert the ideologies of the Edisonades. Without too much exaggeration this inversion can be compared to what Claude Levi-Strauss described, in his The Raw and the Cooked (1970),
p. 9
as an axis of human culture, running from "the raw," the products of nature, to "the cooked," the products of human creation. ......

Edisonade 與 steampunk 的比較:
  The Edisonade is American. Steampunk, though written by writers of many nationalities, is English. (〔包括 Steamboy (2004) X-D〕) The Edisonade is about setting out for the frontier, about exploring new, rural territory, mastering it, despoiling it, and then returning home. First-generation steampunk is an essentially urban genre, usually set in London. The Edisonade is a dynamic genre, the characters always in motion, always traveling, the backdrop changing from scene to scene. Steampunk is often static, limited to London's confines. One of the core assumptions of the Edisonade is that the inventor is larger than his inventions, that man is the master of the machine, that one sufficiently clever and inventive man can conquer, can master, can own. Nothing is beyond the Edisonade inventor's grasp -- he has merely to reach for it. The wearied revelation of steampunk -- and this is a reaction not just to the Edisonade but to much of 1940s and 1950s science fiction -- is that the machinery of society and life is too much for any man to control or master, and that those who reach too far will have their outstretched arms caught in a metaphorical mangler.

  The Edisonade's primary characteristics are technological optimism, exploitative capitalism (via the acquisition of wealth that is usually owned by native peoples or exists on their land), juvenile daydreams (the brilliant boy or teenager, with adult men serving him, becomes master of the adult world and is acclaimed and respected), and the vicarious exercise of bigoted wish-fulfillment (a white American defeats the non-white enemies of the United States, inside the borders of the U. S. and outside). But despite these elements, the genre also has a peculiar innocence to it. For all that the Edisonade portrays white boys using advanced technology to kill non-white men and loot their treasure, the Edisonades never betray a sense that there is any blood in the corpses or real pain in their deaths. ......
p. 10
  Steampunk is a genre aware of its own loss of innocence. Its characters may be innocent in the context of their worlds, but steampunk writers are all too aware of the realities which the Edisonade writers were ignorant of or chose to dismiss. If the worlds of the steampunk writers are not dystopian, they are polluted, cynical, and hard, quite unlike the clean and simple worlds of the Edisonades. Accompanying this lack of innocence is an anger and a rebellion against much of what the Edisonade's stood for. (Hence the "punk" half of "steampunk.)〔點出 punk 在 steampunk 中的意義〕......

繼續闡述 steampunk 中的 punk:
  Steampunk, like all good punk, rebels against the system it portrays (Victorian London or something quite like it), critiquing its treatment of the underclass, its validation of the privileged at the cost of everyone else, its lack of mercy, its cutthroat capitalism. Like the punks, steampunk rarely offers a solution to the problems it decries -- for steampunk, there is no solution -- but for both punk and steampunk the criticism must be made before the change an come. The Edisonades could not have conceived of steampunk. Steampunk is well aware of the Edisonade boy inventor, and kills him, as villains must be killed, by the end of the story.

第二代 steampunk 脫離 punk 的原意,進而演化成新的型態:
...... But most second generation steampunk is not true steampunk -- there is little to nothing "punk" about it. The politics of the punk position have largely disappeared from second generation steampunk, and most of it is more accurately described as "steam sci-fi" or, following John Clute, "gaslight romance."〔可愛的新標籤!〕 The authors of the Edisonades would have loathed first generation steampunk, but they would have approved of second generation steampunk, with its steam machines used against the American natives in Westerns, and steam-powered war machines being used in the service of the British army conquering Mars. (In
p. 11
that sense steampunk has returned to its roots.) This abandonment of ideology is an evolution (or, less charitably, an emasculation) that is inevitable once a subgenre becomes established -- witness how cyberpunk went from a dystopic critique of multinational capitalism to a fashion statement and literary cliche. But its loss is nonetheless to be mourned.
〔任何東西紅了就會變軟、「鳥化」,cyberpunk 如是,steampunk 亦如是。所以不肯在大眾前端踽踽獨行,只想把這些辭彙掛在嘴邊「推廣給大眾」,「有個刻板印象就好」,這樣的心態應該也很容易理解。不就是想當先知又沒那個種、不敢下工夫去練出名堂嗎?不過就讀者端而言,這些倒沒那麼重要,只要有好作品看,一切就很完美啦。〕

2 comments:

Yenchin said...

到最後叛客變朋客也不稀奇了 XD

Bob Lu said...

煤氣浪漫譚!

這個好!

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