There are so many false body parts in Steampunk! Why do you think that is? Do any of your characters have mechanical body parts? Why?

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My protagonist has a prosthesis, and I seriously considered changing that part of the story when I realised this is a common feature in the genre. In the end, I decided against making the change because my protagonist would be a pretty different character if she were intact. Also, I'd already become attached to my mental image of her, and her personality.

Can you not concede that the leg failed in that it did not withstand the tiger's bite or bear the weight of the car?

And the shiny crutch may be a second rate replacement, until you add a gear driven claw that can crush skulls and a gatling gun. 


Joseph Robert Lewis said:

I can't bring myself to call a crutch a "triumph of science" no matter how shiny that crutch may be. It will always be a reminder of something that went wrong. It's a second-rate replacement, not an upgrade.

And it's not that the organic system "failed" so much as it was destroyed. It's hardly your leg's fault when a tiger bites it off or a car runs it over.

The fake body parts may not be there because of an accident, but as an enhancement to a normal and healthy body.

Scott Taylor said:

Can you not concede that the leg failed in that it did not withstand the tiger's bite or bear the weight of the car?

And the shiny crutch may be a second rate replacement, until you add a gear driven claw that can crush skulls and a gatling gun. 


Joseph Robert Lewis said:

I can't bring myself to call a crutch a "triumph of science" no matter how shiny that crutch may be. It will always be a reminder of something that went wrong. It's a second-rate replacement, not an upgrade.

And it's not that the organic system "failed" so much as it was destroyed. It's hardly your leg's fault when a tiger bites it off or a car runs it over.

As long as I would honestly say, "I wish I still had my real leg" then I would not consider any prosthetic an absolute success.

Scott Taylor said:

Can you not concede that the leg failed in that it did not withstand the tiger's bite or bear the weight of the car?

And the shiny crutch may be a second rate replacement, until you add a gear driven claw that can crush skulls and a gatling gun. 


Joseph Robert Lewis said:

I can't bring myself to call a crutch a "triumph of science" no matter how shiny that crutch may be. It will always be a reminder of something that went wrong. It's a second-rate replacement, not an upgrade.

And it's not that the organic system "failed" so much as it was destroyed. It's hardly your leg's fault when a tiger bites it off or a car runs it over.

I think it's also useful to include the phantom limb phenomenon in this discussion of prostheticism. As much as we can feel that an inorganic piece of machinery is part of us or not, what about the imaginary? And what about pain? Pain isn't really a disease. It's a neurological condition. Yet for people who experience chronic pain it is a disease. The automaton in Sedia's novel The Alchemy of Stone is able to experience pain because her creator says that is what makes her unique and what protects her from herself. In other words, is pain what makes us human? When we have a metal arm that makes us not afraid to touch fire or able to wield electricity like a part of our body, is that when we become larger than human, or lesser?

 

I'm just throwing random questions out there. Sorry. But I do enjoy asking questions. I'll come back to this discussion to make some contribution when I've gathered up more of my thoughts.

Hiya... my first official participation here!  What comes to my mind is Bernard Wolfe's "Limbo," a science fiction novel written during the cold war (it was actually banned for a time).  If anyone is interested in some of the ideas and even some of the technicalities of cybernetics, I suggest it (Wolfe does draw heavily upon Weiner's work, who is thought of as the father of cybernetics).  In regard to prosthetics in a steampunk setting... I think it more about imagery, and what it conveys about the character.  I think that goes to the root word of cybernetics, control.  I say this because in reality (a cursed word), the 1800's did not have prosthetics that were impressive from a 'functional' sense, we're talking wooden limbs that are a far cry from the likes of body parts which frequent cyberpunk novels.  So we "dress up" the steampunk prosthetic, make it more impressive in some way, this alteration is there so as to add distinction to the character.  And I must say... I like a villain with an intimidating body part.                                         ;-)
Above and beyond the fact that such things are quirky, and Steampunk fans love anything quirky, I think it harkens back to the core principle of the Victorian Age/Industrial Revolution--unbridled optimism about what can be accomplished through advancing science and engineering, including repairing people's injuries (albeit in an antique way).  Besides, mechanical power and gear mechanisms are such an inherent part of the Steampunk image, how could they not be incorporated into people as well?  In my own current project, the lead male character has a mechanical hand, partly for the story line, partly because it contributes to who he is, but also partly because it contributes to the overall "look" of the character that helps establish that look as specifically Steampunk instead of just historical.  You may as well ask, "Why corsets?"  "Why goggles?"  Much of the essense of contemporary Steampunk has been developed not by the writers, but by the fans.

It seems its mostly for look, at least that's what Ive heard, never actually read any Steampunk :)

For my stories, Id like to invent some sort of explanation for why people would have or want prosthetic limbs. I'm sure its probably been done.

My idea is for an entire Steampunk planet (SteamSphere), perhaps in a series of stories (Steamsphere Warriors) , where prosthetics have become an obsession for people.

So that's why Ive been looking into the idea of Post-humanism, and my own interpretation of the Post human God.

 

In my latest foray into the post apocalypse, a character gets a sleeve caught in a spinning wheel and nearly looses her arm.  (Curse those lacy sleeves!)  While recovering, she's fitted with a full-arm prosthesis with a latching hook.  (You can't go down a spider rope with only one hand.) 

It gives her a chance-- in the story-- to empathize with those who are crippled and adds a +2 to the coolness factor when she gets into a sword fight and blocks the saber of a very surprised Prince with her left arm. 

I use several characters with disabilities as those are the sorts of things that would be common from battle injuries. 

The life of an air pirate is just fraught with danger . . .   Why not show it? 

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