Steampunk: An Illustrated History

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

I have recently finished reading a non-fiction steampunk book, properly titled Steampunk: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and other Victorian Visions, by Brian J. Robb, with foreword by James. P. Blaylock.

That rather is a mouthful.

Steampunk; An Illustrated History - let us call it that, otherwise it will take too long to read each time - was published only towards the end of last year, which makes it remarkably up to date (even though things move fast in the world, so already new trends ideas are emerging which aren't covered in it.)
I have been interested in the steampunk aesthetic from before I knew what steampunk was.  As a relative newcomer onto the scene, my knowledge of its origins and parts was a bit lacking, which is part of the reason I commenced this blog, as a journey of discovery as much for myself as to entertain and highlight for others.

As  result, I found the book rather fascinating, as it charts the history of steampunk, from the writers who influenced it, such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, through to the current time.  It covers a number of subjects (with appropriately sounding titles), such as the role of women in steampunk (A Young Lady's Primer), film and TV (Nitrate Nightmares and Selenium Dreams), as well as graphic novels, the Japanese steampunk scene, costumes and emporiums, and what the future may hold.

At times it does seem he does draw rather a long bow trying to incorporate anything that may be vaguely steampunk related to give weight to what he sees as the history of steampunk.  As with all things steampunk, it can be open for debate.  Also such areas, such as games and the whole lifestyle culture, warrant only a meager mention in comparison to other areas.

As a book, I wouldn't label it definitive, but it a handy reference starer for those new to the genre, and due to its lavish array of pictures and photos, it would make a good coffee table book.


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