It was the beginning of summer in Atlanta. This concrete jungle, this technological mecca of the South, this sweltering sweatbox is hiding the cool breeze of a recent artistic renaissance – a piece of which I was out to find that day.
As I drove to my destination, I consider the history of Atlanta and its deliberate role as a technological innovator in the post-reformation South. I drove past one of the most elite institutes for technology in the country, past skyscraping evidence of our growth and progress… and then, I pulled off on a dusty road, round a corner, and park in front of a building that looks like a stucco castle.
I was standing in front of an impressive sight, a replicated relic of a different age altogether, seemingly in stark contrast to the city in which it makes its home. The castle is home to one of the best-known costuming retailers in the country, Museum Replicas Ltd. Their showroom is impressive, but I’m not here to shop. I’m here to learn more about an exciting venture they are supporting, a Web Series set to be a potentially iconic addition to the burgeoning genre of Steampunk: Archangel from the Winter’s End Chronicles.
I met the producer, Jeff Burdett, and he leads me up a staircase to a room that smells of leather and tapestry. There, among racks of costumes replicated from a variety of current fantasy films, are bags with some of the most impressive Steampunk costuming I‘ve ever seen, all ready to be worn by the show’s characters and then reproduced for sale by Museum Replicas. Moving on to the production office, we entered a small room with a storyboard scrawled onto a wall-mounted whiteboard, a couple of desks. On one of the desks stands a computer set-up that seems far too small for the film editing and special effects being completed within its circuits. After taking a moment to admire the amazing leaps in technology that have allowed this web show to come into being, we begin discussing the show itself:
Set in Victorian England, the show sits along an alternative timeline, an era where technological advancements that could have been, actually were. As with most imaginings of the Steampunk world, steam power along with Tesla’s unrealized inventions have caused a rapid advancement of technology never experienced before. This increase in technology has incredible implications for the advancement of society but, instead, the producers of the tech decide to use it for their own personal gain, leaving their warlords to rule and exploit conquered societies the world over.
In the midst of this, our hero, Archangel, is placed in a position of knowledge and choice as he must decide whether to follow orders that would align him with the technologically advanced conquerers or to leave behind everything he loves to go underground and fight for the people of his country. Being the hero, he makes the hard and right choice, becoming a Batman-like figure, a thorn in the side of the conquering warlord, using the Steampunk technology to protect the innocent and fight those who prey on his people.
A classic hero’s journey set in a world of relatively new imagining, a world that in many ways parallels our own, Archangel from the Winter’s End Chronicles looks to be a fascinating and exciting series. With the potential to be an iconic story within the relatively new world of Steampunk fandom, providing the first true hero of this fantasy era, the show also serves as a reminder to us of the potentials and pitfalls we face with our own technological advancement.
Times of rapid increases in knowledge tend to be cultural turning points: On the one hand, without the increased accessibility of technology, the cultural renaissance in Atlanta, of which Archangel from the Winter’s End Chronicles is a part, would not be able to occur. On the other hand, knowledge and its counterpart, technology, does bring a great deal of power and, as another hero of geek culture so eloquently reminds us, “with great power comes great responsibility.” We can choose to allow our recent increased accessibility of knowledge to awaken ourselves and each other or we could choose to support those who would exploit the increased power this knowledge brings. We can choose to be Archangels of our own story or we can choose to be Warlords. Which will you choose?
Archangel from the Winter’s End Chronicles is available to watch for free on its interactive website at http://www.archangeltheseries.com/.