Castle of Turing–from the prophet of steampunk

You could call Neal Stephenson the ‘prophet’ of steampunk. Much of his fiction anticipated the nostalgia for the steam age. Rather than look forward to a future filled with virtual technologies, as in William Gibson, Stephenson saw ahead to mechanical world, similar in feel to the nineteenth-century. In his wake were the first popular computer game Myst and Tim Burton films.

This paradox of a 19th century future was conjured particularly in the idea of the ‘Castle of Turning’, which evokes the origins of computer technologies in mechanical engineering. This again reflects the paradox that the cog, as the very antithesis of the Arts & Crafts Movement is today a the source of authenticity.

The chain was flat. Each link had a toggle: a movable bit of metal in the centre, capable of rotating about and snapping into placed in either of two positions, either parallel or perpendicular to the chain.
Neal Stephenson The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer New York: Viking, 1995, p. 313

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