Wednesday, October 19, 2011

blackfriars bridge makeover and the "steampunk" label

Nearly 150 years after its construction, the Blackfriars Bridge on the River Thames is getting a modern upgrade.  A covered roof and solar panelling that will fuel the Blackfriars rail station.

Great!  Awesome!  Victorian bridges being used to create green energy!

image source: Earth Techling
But why is the author of the article about the improvements, Susan DeFreitas of Earth Techling, calling said improvements "steampunk?"  What, pray tell, is so "steampunk" about the facelift?  We're in the 21st century, so making changes to a Victorian bridge isn't exactly an anachronism that would have it deserve a steampunk label.  Unless the solar panels were covered in brass or clockwork.  Or they were steam-powered renewable energy panels.

I'm just saying, as I have said in this post before, that one shouldn't use a label unless they have a good definition behind the label that applies to what one is trying to label.


  1. Ms. DeFreitas is participating in the soul-mining of steampunk, whereby costumes replace meaning. For more than you ever wanted to know on that, check

  2. @ High Arka- Thanks for sharing your article. I would agree that "soul mining" applies in this case except I can't see how there is no costume aspect to this bridge. Not even brass coloring or a cheesy attempt at clockwork decorations.

    I just really think that Ms. DeFreitas has no idea what she is talking about- she, like other writers, either seem to think that all things Victorian that become modernized by our 21st century standards is really "steampunk" or that brass and clockwork automatically makes something steampunk. If it's the latter then I think it its your argument. If it's the former (which, in this case, I think it is) then I am not so sure.

    Or did I completely misunderstand the meaning of your article?