Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boilerplate-Steampunk Fiction Worth a Look

Boiler Plate is a fictional account of an intelligent robot used by the United States around the turn of the century, at least until his disappears, either captured or a defection.  The author did enough research to write believable accounts of such battles and conflicts with the addition of Boiler Plate to explain unusual or unexpected outcomes that actually occurred at times.  The reports are written like excerpts from a historical or documentary account, but as the robot was apparently a secret weapon, and military action reports, even back then, were much longer and more boringly filled with rather boring details and statistics, the reader is left with the impression that these are military or intelligence briefs such as would be prepared to update the president.  Historical photos were retouched to add a sense of reality to the story by adding Boiler Plate's photo inserted in with his historical comrades.  This gives me the impression that the author is attempting to use the ploy of H G Wells in absorbing the audience by making the story seem like a real life account, except in this case one of historical actions our government has subsequently covered up.

I like to focus at least briefly on any imaginative effort in the steampunk drama or literature area that I enjoyed and have not seen discussed extensively on other sites.  While I have seen this mentioned before, it has not received that much notice, and I hope it may inspire others to write their own material and share it with us here.  This is the story of an intelligent robot, invented for purely scientific purposes, but of course, taken over by the American Military for their own purposes.  Having access to an intelligent robot that is fully bullet proof and terrifies the enemy by his presence alone is a great secret weapon in the days of the Spanish-American and the Mexican- American Wars. 

While the historical/documentary like approach does not lend itself to a romantic adventure, and as such, may not keep the reader up late pouring over the accounts unable to walk away from their computer, it really does show originality and creativity both in it's conception and  presentation.  I think the most interesting part about this story is how the intelligent robot is assigned to the all "Negro" units due to the fact that the leaders of that time considered both android/robot type people and the black buffaloe soldiers to be lesser classes.  Both are used to do the most dangerous jobs, then cut out of history as the white soldiers must, of course, get the glory.   In the end, the documentary style history accounts start to suggest, subtly, that boilerplate is starting to have his own agenda and undermining the goals of his supervisors who continue to treat him as simply a valuable weapon, but with no need for dignity.  Take a look.  Pay special attention to the episode where he is sent after Pancho Villa!

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