So a while ago I came up with an idea... What if some of NASA's (and others) plans developed in the 1950's through 1970s actually came to fruition, instead of being cancelled? What would our world (and the solar system) now look like if projects like Orion and the Lenticular Reentry Vehicle and the original Space Transportation System were developed and put into use? And what if the natural progression beyond those projects had continued?
Naturally, I'm not the first to think of such a thing. In fact, there are already at least two really cool web sites concerning this idea. I've already mentioned one of them on this blog, called Atomic Rockets. The other is Rocketpunk Manifesto. The term for this concept, of course, is Rocketpunk.
Let's take a moment to break down the punks: Everybody know about Cyberpunk. And Steampunk seems to be building up a lot of, um, steam, lately. I just recently learned about Clockpunk (where the driving technology is based on clockwork mechanisms, duh!) I suppose you could add the -punk suffix to just about any subgenre - "Hey did you read that new wild-west-zombie-ninjapunk book? Pretty cool..." But as I see it, maybe the -punk should only be applied where it mostly concerns the most common technology of the setting. Cyber - computers, Steam - steam power, etc. And maybe it needs to have at least a sprinkle of gritty, film-noir, underground hard-boiled-ness to it, too. Like, say, Magipunk, where gritty down-and-out Magic pushers roam the alleyways hawking illegal talismans that drive an alt-future black market tech economy. Big Oil legislates against the magi-tech because talisman powered cars cut into their profits. But the illegal talismans occasionally have, um, unexpected side effects...
But back to Rocketpunk. I think it's an awesome idea. For a long time I've been toying around with a very pulpy space opera setting (you know, where spaceships go "whoosh" and anti-matter powered battle cruisers use pretty much the same tactics as Horatio Hornblower.) Actually, it's funny how that kind of unrealistic "futuristic" setting is a crazy combination of the Great Age of Fighting Sail and WWII dogfights with the terms warp, hyper, and flux thrown in for extra flavor. Who doesn't love epic space battles filled with Star Destroyers, Vipers and Klingon Battle Cruisers? But, sometimes it's nice to have a bit more science in the science fiction. That's where Rocketpunk comes in.
It can be a retro future where the microchip somehow failed at world domination. The ships in our story follow the laws of real physics. I'm thinking of having the One Big Lie be some kind of as yet unknown breakthrough power source, and follow the realistic engineering implications of that. And, there's rust on some of those rockets, and dirt. Some of them are about as glamorous to those that use them as a tractor is to a farmer.
So, let's add a Rocketpunk story to the ol Mythik Project List. I'm looking forward to seeing the timeline of space milestones that didn't end with Apollo, and where the Space Transportation System meant a Space Tug, Lunar Shuttle, and Interplanetary Shuttle instead of merely the Orbital Shuttle.
But right now I need to get back to the Mythik Weird West...