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Last on

Sat 23 Mar 2013 10:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 03 September 2012

If you've ever encountered a person with flying goggles, clad in tweeds and clutching a mahogany laptop or brass smartphone on a chain, what's the explanation? Phill Jupitus steps into an era where the 19th and 21st centuries charmingly collide, to investigate the time travelling cult known as Steampunk.

Travelling back to the steam-powered future, Phill discovers a cast of modern characters - engineers, scientists, writers, artists and inventors - taking their inspiration from the Victorian and Edwardian arts and sciences, and from the fiction of H.G. Wells.

"It's still the early twenty-first century. The Victorian world, the Edwardian world carried on", explains Ian Crichton aka Herr Doktor amongst an array of fantastical homemade devices: digital camera modified with rivets, brass-etched ray gun, steam pistol and a space helmet like that worn by Lionel Jeffries in The First Men on The Moon. "We've got steam-powered cars on the streets. We've got huge dirigibles flying to Japan".

Steampunk speculates on an imaginary overlap between the 19th century and the present day. Phill investigates at a Steampunk convivial, The Houses of Parliament, on an x-ray ward, at a punk gig and in a shed in suburban Surrey.

With Dr Chandrika Nath from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology ; consultant radiologist Dr Adrian Thomas; comedian Andrew O'Neill; science fiction author, Adam Roberts and lecturer in 19th Century Literature, Dr Christine Ferguson.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes
A Testbed Production for BBC Radio 4.

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