So I thought that scenes of anachronistic hot-air balloons were a B-movie/animation trope. And they probably are, but thanks to the publicists for The Aeronauts, actually finding one turned into a fifteen minute hunt. On the one hand, thanks to Andrei Tarkovsky for putting a balloon into the prologue to Andrei Rublev and Youtube user Eagle Burger for putting it up. On the other, thanks a bunch to the producers of The Aeronauts for spending all that money on spamming the Internet instead of making a good movie.
The question that I meant to foreground with that interpretation is, "Is there a history of technology answer to the question, Why did the Montgolfiers come when they did?" It's sort of a science fiction question that took me back to the afore-mentioned hunt around the Internet that failed to turn up any cavemen in balloons, an answer, which appears to be taffeta --and not an economically endogenous "free lunch" of pure innovation arising from the-superiority-of-the-White-race-Shit-I-can't-say-that-"culture," as the neolibs would have it. (In an unarticulated way.) Fuckers just won't go away.
. . . Which brings us to "Victorian Britain, workshop to the world."
Anyone remember these? [pdf, 200]