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Steampunk: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions

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Steampunk is the hottest science fiction counterculture, alive in fantasy novels, films, arts and crafts, fashion, comic books, music, computer games, even architecture. Enter a world of Victorian technology, where steam power meets space travel. From Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to Alan Moore, Hayao Miyazaki, and Philip Pullman, the genre has captured imaginations around t Steampunk is the hottest science fiction counterculture, alive in fantasy novels, films, arts and crafts, fashion, comic books, music, computer games, even architecture. Enter a world of Victorian technology, where steam power meets space travel. From Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to Alan Moore, Hayao Miyazaki, and Philip Pullman, the genre has captured imaginations around the globe. Here’s the first grand, illustrated history of the counterculture movement in a book fittingly stylish in its design, package, and artwork. From the fastest dirigible and steam-powered ray guns to fashionistas Lady Gaga and Alexander McQueen, the whole story of the gaslight romance is here.


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Steampunk is the hottest science fiction counterculture, alive in fantasy novels, films, arts and crafts, fashion, comic books, music, computer games, even architecture. Enter a world of Victorian technology, where steam power meets space travel. From Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to Alan Moore, Hayao Miyazaki, and Philip Pullman, the genre has captured imaginations around t Steampunk is the hottest science fiction counterculture, alive in fantasy novels, films, arts and crafts, fashion, comic books, music, computer games, even architecture. Enter a world of Victorian technology, where steam power meets space travel. From Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to Alan Moore, Hayao Miyazaki, and Philip Pullman, the genre has captured imaginations around the globe. Here’s the first grand, illustrated history of the counterculture movement in a book fittingly stylish in its design, package, and artwork. From the fastest dirigible and steam-powered ray guns to fashionistas Lady Gaga and Alexander McQueen, the whole story of the gaslight romance is here.

30 review for Steampunk: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I will admit that I have known of Steampunk for many years but will openly admit I know next to nothing about it. Let me explain - I have been a fan of Tim Powers and James Blaylock for years (as well as reading a number of Mr Jeters books) and it is almost impossible to read these books without coming across both references to Steampunk and the fact that it was coined by this group some years ago. And that is where my knowledge ends Until I picked up this book and started to read more. Now I will I will admit that I have known of Steampunk for many years but will openly admit I know next to nothing about it. Let me explain - I have been a fan of Tim Powers and James Blaylock for years (as well as reading a number of Mr Jeters books) and it is almost impossible to read these books without coming across both references to Steampunk and the fact that it was coined by this group some years ago. And that is where my knowledge ends Until I picked up this book and started to read more. Now I will not go in to great details of the book as that is for the reader to explore and discover themselves however I will say that this book was a great surprise. For me I think the biggest part of Steampunk is the imagery, however after reading this book - yes it does take a great part - but it FAR from everything. This book explores every media, style and even interpretation along with exploring its relationship with other sub genres to including cyberpunk. I think however the most striking thing about this book is how up to date it is - yes it has been out a number of years however the material that it contains must have gone up to almost the day it was published with many titles and references being surprisingly modern. Although I still be quick to stress that it does not dismiss or ignore its roots rather it wants to demonstrate how strong the movement is today and how fresh and inventive it's exponents are. So for me this was a rare find that rather than either ridiculing it or trying to make it to something pompous and all other sub-genres inferior - it just celebrates what it is while trying to give you a welcoming guide. So for a total novice with an insatiable curiosity this is a book I will be referring back to time and time again - you have been warned

  2. 5 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    Well documented and lavishly illustrated. Highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Occasionally interesting, but way too self-congratulatory, and at times hypocritical. Robb stretches the definition of Steampunk to include works that make the genre cooler, like Bladerunner or The Watchmen, while dismissing important titles like Sterling and Gibson's The Difference Engine because they had written a few words critical of the new genre. Robb obviously has an axe to grind with them, so The Difference Engine, a book that is obviously Steampunk, is minimized as "a critique of Steamp Occasionally interesting, but way too self-congratulatory, and at times hypocritical. Robb stretches the definition of Steampunk to include works that make the genre cooler, like Bladerunner or The Watchmen, while dismissing important titles like Sterling and Gibson's The Difference Engine because they had written a few words critical of the new genre. Robb obviously has an axe to grind with them, so The Difference Engine, a book that is obviously Steampunk, is minimized as "a critique of Steampunk rather than a celebration of it, or even than a serious contribution towards it." Sounds like somebody's sucking on a lemon. And his obsessive elevation of Jeter, Blaylock, and Powers as the "founding fathers of Steampunk" is utterly undermined by his later inclusion of dozens of works, both film and literary, from earlier decades. Either Jeter, Blaylock, and Powers founded the genre or Disney's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a part of the genre. Pick one. On the whole, a lightweight survey of Steampunk, aimed directly at the fan community that wants to be reassured that they're cool, and that the genre they love is as influential and important as spy fiction or police procedurals.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Redgie

    i want a steampunk dalek!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    What do Brazil, Bioshock, and Perdido Street Station have in common? If you said 'Steampunk,' congratulations, I think you're the author of this book. The first three quarters of this book attempts to document Steampunk, but does so by casting so wide a net as to be almost useless in its definition. It also attempts to approach the topic by medium, which means the chapters end up repeating eras and referents multiple times. If it weren't for the final two chapters explaining a bit more of the 'wh What do Brazil, Bioshock, and Perdido Street Station have in common? If you said 'Steampunk,' congratulations, I think you're the author of this book. The first three quarters of this book attempts to document Steampunk, but does so by casting so wide a net as to be almost useless in its definition. It also attempts to approach the topic by medium, which means the chapters end up repeating eras and referents multiple times. If it weren't for the final two chapters explaining a bit more of the 'why' of Steampunk and how the genre exists more as a mentality than a stricture of style or theme, this book would have one less star. There is some history of the genre presented, but it's weakened by the grasping at practically anything that features gears in it, and there's a pretty gaping hole in Steampunk literature after the initial era, leaving many of the prominent authors of the past decade rarely or not mentioned. Also, for something that is called an Illustrated History, the presence of artwork is poorly integrated and of limited utility. Is this book worth reading? If you're fascinated with Steampunk, it might serve as a decent historical document to highlight pieces that are central to the genre. But if you're looking to truly understand steampunk, and find new media to explore within the genre, I don't think it really fulfills that purpose.

  6. 4 out of 5

    nidah05 (SleepDreamWrite)

    This was interesting with the different pictures and descriptions that have to do with steampunk or steampunk related. Good read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mersini

    More of a 2 and a half, really. Gives an interesting history of Steampunk, including its roots in novels, as well as the influence of film, tv, and comics. However, it's not the most interesting thing to read in terms of style. It's dry, but the kind of thing that you have to read cover to cover because it's not laid out in a way that would make it simply a reference book. Its single chapter on women in steampunk was disappointing. It was short and felt like it was glossing over a lot of women's More of a 2 and a half, really. Gives an interesting history of Steampunk, including its roots in novels, as well as the influence of film, tv, and comics. However, it's not the most interesting thing to read in terms of style. It's dry, but the kind of thing that you have to read cover to cover because it's not laid out in a way that would make it simply a reference book. Its single chapter on women in steampunk was disappointing. It was short and felt like it was glossing over a lot of women's involvement. Later in the book, when it talks about cosplay and the DIY culture of steampunk, women are ignored in favour of men who make gadgets. Shows like Firefly are relegated to a side caption, even though it has a very clear steampunk aesthetic influence. It also glosses over steampunk inspired bands, not giving them their own chapter, though every other medium does. The layout is terrible, with pictures often lacking captions. Even though the things depicted might be mentioned in the text, I think they would have benefited by having a caption as well, particularly novels and film posters, as editions of novels vary, and there is often more than one film poster in an ad campaign. The book would've benefited having a bibliography of sources, and possibly also a timeline of texts, including novels, films, and comics, just so people who are interested in pursuing further reading have something easy to refer back to.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    There's an actual plug for a steampunk-themed sex toy website in this book... As other reviewers have pointed out, important titles seem to have been left out of this "history," but I'm sure glad we got a mention of Lady Clankington's "automata" or range of Gothic ray-gun-shaped vibrators! Yes, the website was listed in there too. Not that there's anything wrong with steampunk-themed sex toys, but unless this woman's fetish website influenced the history of steampunk, I don't see why she deserve There's an actual plug for a steampunk-themed sex toy website in this book... As other reviewers have pointed out, important titles seem to have been left out of this "history," but I'm sure glad we got a mention of Lady Clankington's "automata" or range of Gothic ray-gun-shaped vibrators! Yes, the website was listed in there too. Not that there's anything wrong with steampunk-themed sex toys, but unless this woman's fetish website influenced the history of steampunk, I don't see why she deserved a full page in this book. Overall this is a nicely designed "history" of steampunk, but sometimes ideas are misrepresented, the author inserts his own opinions when they aren't necessary, and it is somewhat self-contradictory. The thing that perplexed me the most about this book (okay, after the sex toy plug) is that the forward by James P. Blaylock states that he is "one of the three perpetrators of steampunk back in the 1970's." This is a pretty exaggerated claim since the entire rest of the book talks mostly about stuff that was created way before the 70's, such as the 1954 Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, old pulp-fiction/film adaptations of Jules Vern, and the amazing films of Georges Melies in the early 1900's, etc. I think starting out with such a self-important and contradictory statement set a bad tone for the rest of the book. The Good: This book is designed really well. Each page has uniquely textured backgrounds and there are nice photos of the books, movies, art, costumes, etc. complete with text wraps and a gorgeous cover that any graphic designer can appreciate. The information within is nice if you don't know anything about steampunk (if you do, there probably won't be anything new). The Meh: Some ideas are misrepresented. There is a paragraph describing Kim Newtons novel Anno Dracula. Then the rest of the page goes on to talk about other things like The Prestige and a mention of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but the two pages have a whole spread of just the faces of three different actors who have played Dracula over the years. Which has nothing to do with what the text was saying aside from a mention of the character. I had the same problem with a paragraph talking about a steampunk themed episode of Castle next to a big picture of Nathan Fillion's character in Firefly (though it was captioned correctly). On top of all this, the author felt the need to spend part of a paragraph talking about how much he hated the movie Sucker Punch. Overall, this book was a waste of time. The design was nice, which is why it got two stars, but I'm glad I borrowed it from a library instead of buying it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Hatch

    Steampunk books and imagery has fascinated me for a long time. This text is a nicely illustrated introduction to the concept, the movies, the books, and the culture that has sprung up. I scanned the text stopping to read what caught my attention. I enjoyed looking at all the illustrations. I was able to create a steampunk reading list from suggestions in within the text. I found the book to be much easier to read and understand than the similar title -- Steampunk Bible.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Juju

    Fab book

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This was really interesting. LOTS of information contained within. Plan on spending time with each chapter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Bauers

    This provided a great overview on how Steampunk has been influenced from historical figures and books to modern days films and video games. The short biography on Nikola Tesla was a particular highlight for me as he seems to be the embodiment of the Steampunk mindset (in particular, the Tesla coils fascinate me). It also made me realize that many of the things I loved growing up actually derived elements from this genre, including Miyazaki films, Final Fantasy 7, and the PC game Myst. However, wi This provided a great overview on how Steampunk has been influenced from historical figures and books to modern days films and video games. The short biography on Nikola Tesla was a particular highlight for me as he seems to be the embodiment of the Steampunk mindset (in particular, the Tesla coils fascinate me). It also made me realize that many of the things I loved growing up actually derived elements from this genre, including Miyazaki films, Final Fantasy 7, and the PC game Myst. However, with the emphasis on History in the title, I had desired to see more of the origins of the Steampunk culture rather than the modern interpretations of it within this book. Instead, most of this book is populated by Steampunk as it has related to our society within the last twenty years. Also, an index would be extremely helpful for this expansive book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    If you have a coffee table, you need this book! Beautiful inside and out. It's more of what's already available, but I found myself liking this guide more than others. Doesn't come off as overly opinionated. If you're interested in Steampunk, then this book will show you what all is available to help you become more educated in the genre. Another one of those books I got from the library that I much rather own!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Rodriguez

    Not as good as Steampunk Bible, I do like it for the chapter on Feminism, which points out the flaw in most stories and even in cosplay(the prevalence of corsets). Mary Wollstonecraft wrote and published her "Vindication on the rights of Women" in the 1820's, so even in alternate versions of history it should not be ignored.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    My Kid's Lit professor used this in her lecture on Steampunk and its uses in the classroom, and I can see why! It's comprehensive, well researched, and references tons of steampunk books, movies, and other stuff, both formative and recent. To try to read, watch, and listen to everything they talk about here would be a years long project, even for me! (I read fast, so sue me)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I pretty much pick up every steampunk reference guide for completeness. But this was a lot of retread. Also, I'm still waiting for the day when these authors go into the steampunk community outside of California and Florida. Sigh. In New England alone, there is so much that is barely touched anywhere. The Steampunk Bible was woefully the same.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I really enjoyed this survey of the Steampunk history and the popular culture showcase shown in this book. While the focus is on the literary evolution of this genre, he also talks about the heroine archetype, film, costuming and also the movement in Japan as well. Lots of rich pictures and interesting facts and influences that paved the way for what we call Steampunk today.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Fantastic book with beautiful photos, with examples of Steampunk in literature, TV, and movies, from Doctor Who to manga. A great book for any Steampunk aficionado or librarian wanting to build or supplement their Steampunk collection.

  19. 4 out of 5

    PJ Ebbrell

    Any book that does not mention The Secret Sea by Thomas F Monteleone is lacking one of the 'lost' authors of Steam punk or pererably Steam Opera as described by the Godfather of the genre, Michael Moorcock.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    809.38766 R631 2012

  21. 5 out of 5

    NVTony

    Excellent book for Steampunk fans wanting to learn more about how genre started & has developed. Binding makes this a stand out product. Excellent book for Steampunk fans wanting to learn more about how genre started & has developed. Binding makes this a stand out product.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary ~*Sweary McCoffeehound*~

    Cool book about the history of steampunk as a genre. Lots of images and very colorful - fun to look through.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Doug Babin

    Not quite sure why it states this book is the first illustrated history of Steampunk. Ummm hello... STEAMPUNK BIBLE!!! Anybody? Blaylock should know better...

  24. 5 out of 5

    E.W. Pierce

    Rather academic and dry, but some interesting nuggets.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark Yoshida

    Decent overview of the "steampunk" subgenre. Well-illustrated, which was important since steampunk is so visual.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jakenv

    Illustrations, photos and information excellent. If you are into Steampunk be sure to add this to your reading list.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    An excellent overview book on Steampunk. Great book for a beginner or someone that wants to learn more. Very recommended

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

  29. 4 out of 5

    Iain

  30. 4 out of 5

    Azur

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