Science fiction isn't a singular term, its a spectrum. On one side, there's Hard Science Fiction, stories that could basically exist without too much stretching of reality. Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the pillars holding up this end. At the far opposite, there's Science Fantasy. See the Star Wars trilogies for more information. I would like to believe, although I would love someone to debate me in the comments, that Star Trek falls pretty firmly towards the middle.
Star Trek is full of science and technology that we wish was real and seems plausible in the distant future. Of course we'll have machines that can make us all the food we'll ever need out of raw materials. Of course we'll be able to travel the stars in advanced ships. Of course our science equipment will be so much more advanced than it is today. The future is going to be better. Right?
Steampunk is a fascinating sub-genre of Science Fiction that is much more firmly in the camp of Science Fantasy, and I think it is in many ways a response to feeling cheated about the future. The century we're living in now is the future that's been promised for decades. The problem is that for so many people it doesn't feel any better. There's an implicit promise that I think draws people to steampunk, beyond its obvious coolness. The promise is that if the past were a magical place filled with wonderful technology, then the future, our present, would be so much better than it is now.
Of course, that probably wouldn't be the case at all, and the best steampunk deals with how real humans would react to fantastical situations in Victorian times. One webcomic that stands out, which is our Webcomic O' the Week for this week, is Boston Metaphysical Society. This is a webcomic we discovered at APE, and so far its one of the better steampunk webcomics I've read. Its also a comic that I have read that Allison has not (yet), so the opinions here are all my own. The elevator pitch is that Boston Metaphysical Society follows a group of adventurers around New England as they attempt to get a handle on all the supernatural weirdness that seems to continually plague the American North East (I blame Lovecraft). I could go on and on about the little bits hidden in the work that I like (Thomas Edison vs Harry Houdini - FIGHT!), but I'm hoping you'll explore it on your own. If you like steampunk or paranormal investigation stories, Boston Metaphysical Society might just tickle your fancy.
If you would like us to feature a webcomic, or you just want to tell us how great/awful we're doing, leave a comment below. That's it for this week, see you on Tuesday for the continuing Adventures of Captain Quail!