Thursday, May 26, 2011

'Steampunk Bible'

"The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, 
Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature"
By Jeff VanderMeer with S.J. Chambers
(Abrams Image, $24.95) 

Yes, I'm afraid it's more Steampunk madness this week. And, if after reading my columns on steampunk, you're intrigued by  the genre or culture, this book is a good place to start. It's also one of the more beautiful books I've seen in quite a while, especially at so reasonable a price. It's hardcover, on glossy high quality paper, with many illustrations and photographs in rich color. Abrams Image does nice work.
What of the contents? Well, it's a history of steampunk in all its variations, from the literature of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and the Edisonades, to the tinkerers and jewelry designers who make steampunkesque artifacts, to the costume and fashion-obsessed fans who are the most obvious and visible aspect of the phenomenon. There's also an extensive chapter on steampunk film, anime and television. 
I already knew a lot of this, but much was new to me, and even the familiar was entertainingly presented. 
One complaint: the covers of the seminal steampunk books used are usually new versions, not the originals, suggesting that either they are including them as a promotion for the reissues, or that they were not previously aware of these books and had no older copies handy. 


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