On this observation journal page l was looking at the idea of industrial fabulism.
A few weeks before this, I noted I was interested in the “fabulist-practical and the industrial-fantastic”. This is something that appears in articles in car magazines at mechanics’ offices (often very romantically written) and in some of Diana Wynne Jones’ books, in collections of rural inventions and the science columns in 19th-century periodicals and in Cold Comfort Farm, in Longitude and Apollo 13 and Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange.
It was also a choice I had to actively make in Flyaway, choosing to underline the reliability of beauty by describing aspects of even mechanical detritus as worthy of notice. And it runs throughout Travelogues, much of which involved processing an industrial landscape through the language of enchantment. I touched a little on that in the post All the shape of the land: “a way not only of expressing the experience of made things, but of experiencing the world through them, and finding enchantment in that.”
So on this journal page, I was identifying that particular aesthetic and its appeal. Some points:
- It is more of a mode/style/setting than a genre.
- It relies on and seeks out beauty in machinery:
- It is realism in service of fabulism.
- There’s a conscious effort to enchant.
- Lyricism is used to deal with industrial objects and surroundings.
- It’s an innate aesthetic — not adding a gloss of beauty to the mechanical/industrial, or bolting ornaments on, but seeking it in the objects themselves. The industrial can even be what adds beauty to the fantastic.
- It represents a society without a division between the technical/technological and the fantastic.
- It is not the same as clockpunk/steampunk/dieselpunk.
- There can be overlap, but there is an effort to distinguish itself from the usual genre markers (e.g. going for a blue tint instead of sepia).
- It leans on machinery more than the fantastic.
- It often avoids the obvious supernatural/fantastic altogether.
- Its appeal for me includes:
- It is anchored in the real. The enchantment is integrated into reality/realism, OR the fairy-tale is anchored by the industrial element.
- As mentioned above, it’s an integrated/innate aesthetic.
- It’s designed to be actively attractive.
- The cliches and stereotypes of the industrial (especially as opposed to the fantastic) are well established, so I need to consciously choose to use the mode, which can make writing in it a pleasing puzzle. (Swapped descriptions, e.g. light vs tin cans, and switched stereotypes are useful for this.)