via statesmanjournal

Tweak a couple of details in 19th-century history and imagine how different our world might be. Say, if Charles Babbage had managed to complete his enormous handcranked Difference Engine back in 1822, thereby launching the computer age more than a century early. Or if lighter-than-air creations such as dirigibles had succeeded in ruling the skies and if steam had won the race to power our machines and vehicles.

Such fantasies have been a theme of “steampunk” fiction since at least the 1980s, and they’re suddenly hot.

Steamcon, the first steampunk convention, drew crowds to Seattle in October. Steampunk novels are being published in scores. There are 27 steampunk iPhone apps available, according to a story this month in Time magazine.

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