The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer & S.J. Chambers — book review

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer with S.J. Chambers. Abrams ‘16.99

Reviewed by Selina Lock

The first time I saw this book I went “Oooh, pretty” because it is a beautifully designed object, as I would expect from a reference book on Steampunk. I read it from cover to cover, but it is also designed for dipping into.

Vandermeer and Chambers do a good job providing an in-depth but whirlwind tour through their definition of the Steampunk genre. The amusingly titled chapters flow well. The book moves from comparing the writings of Wells and Verne, acknowledged Grandfathers of the genre, through to 1980s re-inventors Powers, Blaylock & Jeters to more recent writers like Cherie Priest. I was pleased to note an interesting chapter on Steampunk inspired comics. Further chapters delve into the world of Steampunk makers/tinkers, artists, fashion, bands (who knew there was such a thing?) before coming back to films and TV, and ending with the future of Steampunk. The emphasis on art and fashion provides a wealth of interesting photographs and illustrations to liven things up.

Steampunk to me suggests Victoriana and steam-powered mechanisms, but I must admit to never having thought about the punk aspect. This volume suggests factions involved in the scene vary, from those interested in the aesthetic to those that incorporate the punk ethic, including a focus on sustainable technology and a DIY attitude. Theories put forward for the rise of interest in Steampunk suggest it is a reaction to the turmoil of technological change, the rejection of a throwaway culture and the desire to explore those issues in a historical setting, all the while rejecting the unpalatable aspects of that setting, such as imperialism and racism.

I’ll certainly be seeking out books mentioned in this volume, though I don’t think I’ll be buying a pair of goggles just yet. If you’re at all curious about Steampunk history and culture then I’d highly recommend this book.

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer with S.J. Chambers. Abrams ‘16.99

Reviewed by Selina Lock

The first time I saw this book I went “Oooh, pretty” because it is a beautifully designed object, as I would expect from a reference book on Steampunk. I read it from cover to cover, but it is also designed for dipping into.

Vandermeer and Chambers do a good job providing an in-depth but whirlwind tour through their definition of the Steampunk genre. The amusingly titled chapters flow well. The book moves from comparing the writings of Wells and Verne, acknowledged Grandfathers of the genre, through to 1980s re-inventors Powers, Blaylock & Jeters to more recent writers like Cherie Priest. I was pleased to note an interesting chapter on Steampunk inspired comics. Further chapters delve into the world of Steampunk makers/tinkers, artists, fashion, bands (who knew there was such a thing?) before coming back to films and TV, and ending with the future of Steampunk. The emphasis on art and fashion provides a wealth of interesting photographs and illustrations to liven things up.

Steampunk to me suggests Victoriana and steam-powered mechanisms, but I must admit to never having thought about the punk aspect. This volume suggests factions involved in the scene vary, from those interested in the aesthetic to those that incorporate the punk ethic, including a focus on sustainable technology and a DIY attitude. Theories put forward for the rise of interest in Steampunk suggest it is a reaction to the turmoil of technological change, the rejection of a throwaway culture and the desire to explore those issues in a historical setting, all the while rejecting the unpalatable aspects of that setting, such as imperialism and racism.

I’ll certainly be seeking out books mentioned in this volume, though I don’t think I’ll be buying a pair of goggles just yet. If you’re at all curious about Steampunk history and culture then I’d highly recommend this book.