Chapter 2. Beats, Pranksters, Hippies, Steampunks!

The Vintage Tomorrows project begins. Let’s start with some history!

Our historian’s path to understand the significance of steampunk, Makers, and hackers started many years before that fateful beer in Seattle. Throughout his career, James has lived his intellectual life on the fringes of our culture. His story takes us from the mud and gunpowder of a Civil War re-enactment battlefield, to a weekend with Timothy Leary, a chat “on the bus” with Ken Kesey, and finally to a defining moment in the Nevada desert at the Burning Man festival.

As James takes us through subcultures past and present, he introduces us to their luminaries and ultimately gives us a new view of the popular culture we thought we knew.

An Embedded Historian

James H. Carrott (Seattle, WA)

Steampunk has a past of its own. Multiple pasts, actually. One of those pasts is in the realm of science fiction and fantasy; another is in the rebellion of contemporary counterculture. Turns out, I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring both.

A few months after we walked into that bar, I met Brian in his hotel room in Seattle to review the research I’d conducted for him and Intel (at its earliest stages, the project was connected more directly with Brian’s day job). We set a digital audio recorder on the table and Brian swatted away my books and my laptop.

“No, no, no. Bad academic,” Brian said.

“I’m not an… academic.” I insisted, clutching my Steampunk Bible (the most definitive overview ...

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