The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 0 of 5 stars
This book has some wonderful qualities. The artwork is fantastic and eye catching and the early portion of the book moves along well. The author gives a loving and detailed examination of the background of the literary basis for Steampunk. Not only does he go over the coining of the term and interview the authors that helped establish Steampunk at the end of the 20th century but goes back to look at the origins of the genera at the end of the 19th. This exploration of Wells and Verne, two masters of literature and the predecessors not only of Steampunk but also modern Science Fiction, convey the depth and history of the genre better than most articles I have read on the subject.
The discussion of the art, fashion and social aspect of the movement explores the excitement and breadth of feeling for this movement. I have to say that I enjoy the literary genre as well as the fashion and live fantasy of dressing the part. My daughter and I have been fortunate to attend two of the Steampunk in Cambridge festivals. Both of us in our embryonic garb.
Where this book has it’s flaws is the same place where all “bible’s” seem to have theirs. The adherents of the movement that have embraced it the most believe that it is the end all of movements. Steampunk can grow and become all things to all people. It fills in the gaps in modern society including the green movement, DIY, social norms and the disassociation we feel with the modern computer and social media society we live in. At the same time it is buoyed by that same culture and trans-formative. No movement can be all things and when the adherents try and force that all inclusiveness is when the movement starts to break down.
Literary movements, as well as social ones, need to have a set of rules and boundaries. It is by adhering to these boundaries and growing within ad around them that the movement becomes strong and solidifies itself for an extended run.
I hope those who read this book as well as those included in it, look it over with the proper skeptical and scientific eye, much as Verne and Wells did with their own society when creating the genre in the first place, and are able to realize the genres potential and its place.