20 Comments

  1. November 1972 Nixon won the presidential election by a landslide. The older man is gloating about Nixon’s win.

  2. I think it’s a reference to the impending end of the “hippie” era. Even in a monochrome comic, it’s clear that their clothes are in garish, psychedelic colors. However, the expensive looking “cut” of those clothes indicate that they have joined the mainstream establishment.

  3. End of the ”60’s hippie movement, perhaps. The female’s big hair might be a slightly disguised afro do?

  4. Kilby’s right. Whenever a grassroots* culture like hippies moves into the realm of the wealthy, you know it’s over.

  5. Whitey’s answer is better than mine, but for that interpretation, it helps to know that this comic originally appeared on December 2nd (about four weeks after the election). Since it’s not available in the Conde Nast store, I had to look it up in the CD-Archive of the “Complete Collection”.

  6. Historical costumes, including Victorian and Edwardian, were certainly around as trends of a sort among 60s hippies and counterculture youth. “Steampunk” was part of that.

  7. P.S. I feel really silly for missing the name of the month in the post’s title, even if that did predate it by a few days.

  8. Actually, Mitch, “Steampunk” didn’t come around until later, well after the 60’s. Specifically, “Steampunk” arrived AFTER “cyberpunk”, which more-or-less arrived in the 1980’s with William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”, although some trace cyberpunk’s roots to other works, like “The Shockwave Rider”. (YMMV, but both are recommended. Steampunk traces its literary roots to Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s “The Difference Engine”, an alternative history where computer technology was developed several decades prior to the transister, thanks to the early work of Charles Babbage and Ada Byron. Thus, cyberpunk but steam-powered, steampunk.

  9. P.P.S. My next question was whether Mr. Weber drew a similar cartoon in August 1974, to show a taunt going the other way. All I could find in the New Yorker’s CD-Archive was a comic dated September 9th, 1974, showing two somber businessmen†, with one of them saying “I see a substantial upswing in the economy by October, but who knows? Maybe it’s the Valium talking.” (I was not able to find a link to this comic anywhere online.)

    P.P.P.S. † – Either one of the men in the 1974 cartoon could be the man in the cartoon above, but Weber’s businessmen are generally interchangable.

  10. Thanks, James.

    I think it was not very long after its publication that I read Neuromancer, but the first things I really liked under the “Cyberpunk” label were Geo. Alec Effinger’s trilogy starting with When Gravity Fails (1986).

    What subgenre label (if any) would you use for Jeff Noon’s Vurt (1993) (and sequels); is it close enough to “Cyberpunk” to fit, with some substitutions? (Drugs / magic for electronics.)

  11. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Mr. Noon. My SF reading tends towards golden age SF…Heinlein (pre-stroke), Asimov, etc. H. Beam Piper is another favorite, and “Little Fuzzy” is a classic in the field. In the modern writers, Gibson and Sterling are represented in my collection, along with Brin. I’ve only recently retrieved my book collection from storage, and I’m looking forward to getting re-acquainted with some old favorites. I’m currently working through “Variable Star” which was outlined by Heinlein, then set aside, and the outline fleshed into a novel by Spider Robinson after RAH passed on beyond the sunset.

  12. @ MiB – Well, no wonder. If you have hired a bunch of plumbers and CREEPs to use dirty tricks to torpedo the campaigns of all the reasonable opponents, so that the only man left is a wacko liberal, then the result is more or less inevitable.

  13. While I agree this is about the end of the hippie era, I’m not sure that Nixon’s recent trouncing of McGovern is behind this. Apart from the question of lead times from submission to publication, Nixon’s win four years early was pretty substantial. He beat Humphrey by 110 electoral votes. The popular vote was closer, but that’s because George Wallace siphoned off all those conservative southern Democrats who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Republican, even if they agreed with him on most things. My guess is that Wallace voters would have broken at least 2 to 1 for Nixon.

  14. One thing in Nixon’s favor, when he insisted he had actually won the election, it was because he had actually won the election, and he didn’t go off looking at the ballots checking for bamboo.

  15. The Wild Wild West television series was steampunk in the late 1960s. Wikipedia says that K. W. Jeter coined the term in the 1980s, before The Difference Engine (1990).

  16. Mitch: all cyberpunk has exactly the same setting. If it varies from that, it doesn’t qualify.

    I’m only being slightly sarcastic 😦

  17. I got a collection of steampunk stories from the library. Several of them were not ones I’d consider to fit†. One of the authors had an essay in the back chastising us for being too restrictive on the subject. I feel that when you’re dealing with a subgenre, rules about what constitutes admittance need to be fairly strong.

    † As an example, one was a near-future post moderate environmental/economic collapse in the US setting. The only thing that sort of vaguely fit with the steampunk theme was that a couple of federal agents rode robotic horses powered by coal-fired steam.

  18. Yesterday I happened to be driving on Steam Mill Road in a small New England town. Lots of these little industrial towns and cities have factory buildings built on rivers, with a dam with some kind of water wheels or turbines that power a shaft that runs through the building with belts and other shafts to convey power throughout the building. Some time in the 19th century, someone in this town built a mill powered by a steam engine instead of a river, hence Steam Mill.

    Water power has been around for thousands of years, but it’s not portable. You have to build your mill where the river is. A steam mill can be built anywhere there’s a regular water supply, and steam engines can even be portable.

    The Difference Engine didn’t have to be run by steam, although steam was taking over from water power and Babbage most likely was thinking about steam power. If Babbage had lived 100 years earlier, the engine would have to be water powered and we would be reading Waterpunk novels. And we’d dress up like Robert Walpole instead of Benjamin Disraeli.

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