This post by inspired by the lunar eclipse. Can you see the Rabbit in the Moon? I don’t see a face, I see a child’s drawing of a rabbit.
One of my favourite Steampunk vehicles is a moon rocket. This is probably because I would have love to have been an astronaut. If they asked me, I’d be happy to be a Martian colonist or a passenger on a generation ship. To me, a rocket symbolizes the ultimate adventure, the exploration of space.
A rocket harnesses power. Like a locomotive, it isn’t a power that is easily controlled. It isn’t a coincidence that we talk about Rocket Science when we talk about something complex; it takes intelligence and training to pilot a rocket. It takes genius to conceive and build one. If not controlled, a rocket might explode, or spin off into the unknown depths of space. I can see where a rocket could be used as a metaphor for mankind’s explosion of technology, both dangerous and exciting.
Space is bigger and darker than any Dark Continent, and so can be a metaphor for your Heart of Darkness, or death, or even enlightenment (all those stars). Space is the ultimate unknown country. Sending a tiny rocket off into space is just as great an adventure as when explorers set off to cross unknown seas to find new lands. There is no guarantee you will return.
The Moon is an obvious target for exploration, so large and shiny and tempting. Did you know that the Earth and the Moon are actually a double planet? You can use the Moon to hold a ‘mirror’ to the Earth, contrasting one with the other for literary effect. Just because we know the moon is barren, doesn’t mean it has to be barren in your Steampunk narrative. You can turn it into any sort of planet that you like, and people it with exotic civilizations – a metaphor for colonialism. It may be that you want it to be airless and barren … to symbolize a barren heart or a sterile life. The phases of the moon could be used to reflect someone’s moods or to show the passing of time.
Better yet, the Moon has a dark side, always turned away from the Earth … a hidden, secret side. This duality of nature is a godsend to a writer! There is good and bad in every person and situation. Think of how easy it would be to use the Moon as a metaphor for the angel and the devil in each human being.
I’ve only lightly touched upon all the metaphors, symbolism and analogies that rockets and space might denote. I’m certain you can think of a dozen more without any effort.