Scott Westerfeld Forum

Scott's Books => Leviathan / Behemoth / Goliath => Topic started by: waxesnostalgic on July 15, 2010, 01:19:37 AM

Title: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: waxesnostalgic on July 15, 2010, 01:19:37 AM
Ever since I first read Leviathan I have been thinking about a class discussion I had in one of my classes (19th century european history, actually) about the history of technology. The class was supposed to be a discussion of WWI (or, as someone asked the professor, "Can we have a Christmas party in this class?" and he said, "If a discussion about people dying horribly in WWI counts as a Christmas party, then yes, we can have one.") but it sort of turned into a discussion about whether or not technology affects history, and how much it does... Anyway, Leviathan makes a pretty strong point that it does.

I was also sort of wondering exactly how different Clanker technology would be from our technology c. 1914? Do they have movies and such? Would the Darwinists make a lot of things differently than they did (i. e. the Eiffel tower, which doesn't really seem like something the Darwinists would put up...)
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Hello_Sailor on July 15, 2010, 02:29:07 AM
I've been thinking about that too. It seems that since they're kind of stuck in the Victorian era that they wouldn't have movies. It's hard to say what monuments would exist, considering that we don't know how much or where the past in Leviathan differs from ours.
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: waxesnostalgic on July 15, 2010, 06:32:45 AM
Well, I mean, I thinks its pretty safe to be that they don't have the Eiffel tower, because even if they had built it, it would have been torn down in 1909 if they hadn't been able to use it as a radio tower. Since the Darwinists seem to not use radios, I imagine they would have torn it down if it had been built for the 1898 World's Fair. (Thank you Wikipedia for the dates XD) It's also a little hard to imagine French Darwinists building a monument to man's triumph over iron and steel like that.

I had thought about that during the part when the book mentions that the Leviathan passes the skyline of Paris...
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Hello_Sailor on July 15, 2010, 08:29:11 AM
Maybe they have an equally interesting monument made out of non-metallic materials.
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Lin Lin-chan on July 15, 2010, 09:58:28 AM
yeah... the thing about movies is that Edison invented them, and you can't really edit out Edison. We use his inventions so often that if he hadn't invented the things he invented the world would be even more different than even in Leviathan.
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Hello_Sailor on July 15, 2010, 10:06:50 AM
Just because something is invented doesn't mean it'll be a hit. (Case in point, Segway human transporter.)
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: waxesnostalgic on July 16, 2010, 01:12:55 AM
yeah... the thing about movies is that Edison invented them, and you can't really edit out Edison. We use his inventions so often that if he hadn't invented the things he invented the world would be even more different than even in Leviathan.

I think that most of the stuff that he invented we would have eventually come around to... a lot of people were working on the electric light and such. Alek says that they have electric lights, but there are no mentions of movies or recorded sound or anything like that. Maybe some enterprising Clanker scientist came up with them instead.

A lot of their technology seems to be far ahead of our 1914, such as planes and land machines in warfare (apparently they were using them even before the war...) but I imagine that some other things are a bit behind.

I wonder what the Darwinists would use for recorded sound... iLizard? XD For some reason, I always think of the Flintstones using animals to do everyday tasks.  ;D
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Shadow-Thief on July 16, 2010, 01:02:54 PM
Luckily for us the human being wants to move foward and advance...so that we will never be stuck in one technology era for forever...
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Hello_Sailor on July 17, 2010, 08:23:28 AM
In a way, we do stay in the same technology era. Basic designs stay the same, with only minor changes. Scott-la talks about it in the video from the BEA steampunk panel.
http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/2010/05/steampunk-panel-at-bea/
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: America La on July 21, 2010, 10:51:44 PM
I've thought about that too, Alek also mentions at one point that during the Nineteenth Century tractors where on treds like modern day tanks (I forget where, I just remember it happening) so the Clankers technology isn't any sort of new development, having existed for a least a hundred years previous to 1914.
I've also been wondering (ya, I'm skipping ahead to WWII) in the Leviathen universe would the United States have ever developed the Manhatten Poject, there for creating the first atomic bomb. How would this affect the cold war? Also during the Russian revolution would it be a switch from Darwinist to Clanker or from Tsarist to Communist, and how would those points affect the future cold war?
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: waxesnostalgic on July 23, 2010, 05:20:50 AM
Well, tractors weren't really around in 1814, so less than a hundred years. I think Alek means old as in you might say that a car from the 1980s was old. I imagine technology was pretty much the same up until about 1850, which means that they already had trains, photography, steamboats, etc. before they started making beasties.

How the atom bomb would fit into it all is an interesting question. It's not strictly "Clanker" is it?? So I guess it's just a question of what happen in the Leviathan series as to whether or not they would...

I don't really see how Clankers and Communists necessarily go together... While communism as a political system is meant for an industrialized society, Russia was not industrialized (in our universe and presumably in this one too) so they should still have to industrialize, either Clanker or Darwinist industrialization. It's pretty apparent from Deryn's description of Darwinist London that it's still what you would call "industrialized" even though there aren't many machines...
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Hello_Sailor on July 23, 2010, 02:12:33 PM
I don't think the atom bomb would be invented too soon in the books. They don't quite seem like the thing either party would be interested in, neither does it fall into either party's strengths. Darwinists specialize in genetics and bioengineering and Clankers know about mechanics. An atom bomb requires chemistry and nuclear physics, and as far as we know they know relatively little about chemistry and little if any about nuclear physics.
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Itzcuintli on August 29, 2010, 07:20:14 AM
While I was reading Leviathan, I was having trouble believing Victorian England could've in any way invented DNA-modification (or even discovered DNA), simply because I couldn't figure how their level of technology could've facilitated it.

But then I remember something I heard years ago, about ancient Greek technology -- there was apparently a guy named Heronas of Alexandria back then who actually invented the steam engine... only he didn't KNOW it was a steam engine. It was considered a novelty toy, and nothing ever came of it.

But what if, in Leviathan's world, it HAD been recognized for what it really was? That would've started the industrial revolution FAR earlier before it happened in our world. It may have also affected cultural development of the Old World in many unknown ways as well, as well as explaining how Victorian England could've had the technological ability to discover DNA and harness it (and for Clanker technology to have developed as well).

Anyway, that's my 2c.
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: tridecagirl on August 29, 2010, 11:38:24 AM
Well, this was the time Darwin figured evolution out. So he just takes it a step further.
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Itzcuintli on August 29, 2010, 01:19:58 PM
Well, this was the time Darwin figured evolution out. So he just takes it a step further.

Even though Darwin figured out natural selection in our world, he had no way of actually observing DNA, there were no tools advanced enough at the time.

I'm saying you need a certain level of technology to be able to manipulate DNA. It is more plausible if you move the industrial revolution back a couple hundred (or more) years, instead of assuming it just developed in a different direction at the same time. Given the advanced mechanical knowledge of the Clankers, it really seems to me that the development of combustion engines, mechanization, etc. must have occurred far earlier in their world than it did in ours.

The earliest steam engine was invented in our world in ancient Greece (even though it slipped through the cracks), so that was my theory of when it may have happened in their world (i.e, in their world, the Greeks realized what it was).
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: America La on August 30, 2010, 05:27:52 AM

The earliest steam engine was invented in our world in ancient Greece (even though it slipped through the cracks), so that was my theory of when it may have happened in their world (i.e, in their world, the Greeks realized what it was).
What would have happened to the world then? The balance of power would have obviously shifted even more dramatically then it did in that era, and if the Romans obtained this power would roman influence have stayed around longer and actually have extended into northern europe more so than it did in our world? Would that have caused Europe to not have the viking problem in unify them because they could better defend their land causing them to fight eachother like modern Nations-states once rome feel causing military technology to develop faster and earlier than it did in our world? Wait...did that even make sence?
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: Itzcuintli on August 30, 2010, 01:32:39 PM

The earliest steam engine was invented in our world in ancient Greece (even though it slipped through the cracks), so that was my theory of when it may have happened in their world (i.e, in their world, the Greeks realized what it was).
What would have happened to the world then? The balance of power would have obviously shifted even more dramatically then it did in that era, and if the Romans obtained this power would roman influence have stayed around longer and actually have extended into northern europe more so than it did in our world? Would that have caused Europe to not have the viking problem in unify them because they could better defend their land causing them to fight eachother like modern Nations-states once rome feel causing military technology to develop faster and earlier than it did in our world?

Who knows? That's why alternate history is so much fun to speculate about. =)
Title: Re: Technology in Leviathan
Post by: waxesnostalgic on September 14, 2010, 12:34:34 AM
Though it is generally believed that Heron's steam engine was considered only a toy, because slave labor was so plentiful and cheap in the Roman Empire. Who needed a machine that would cost more to operate?? Still, in an alternate universe it could have been rediscovered earlier, sparking an industrial revolution in the early 18th century...