|Posted by Lee A. Farruga on April 1, 2013 at 9:55 AM|
The vast majority of steampunk related books I receive to review are fictional. I very rarely get one that is non-fiction. I have never gotten one that was a serious exploration on the meaning of steampunk. Mike Perschon wrote a grand dissertion related to its literary works The Steampunk Aesthetic: Technofantasies in a Neo-Victorian Retrofuture, but I have not come across a book that looked more closely at steampunk from the viewpoint of the community itself, makers and inventors, as well as artists and musicians whether heavily involved in steampunk or not.
This is exactly what James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson have put together in VINTAGE TOMORROWS.
The two authors are a historian (Carrott) and a futurist (Johnson). Together they look at steampunk's past to find out where it has come from and its future to contemplate where it may be going.
The book is full of incredibly interesting interviews with well known steampunks including our very own Steampunk Scholar, Kaja and Phil Foglio - creators of Girl Genius, Diana Vick - organizer of Steamcon, Jake Von Slatt and many more. Authors including China Melville and Margaret Atwood. Makers including Mark Thomson of Australia and Kimric Smythe - one of the creators of Neverwas Haul.
They even interviewed Justin Bieber's manager Scott Braun! Who knew the man was quite the futurist himself and that he actually likes the steampunk aesthetic - he kept the drum kit and glove made by Canadian steampunk artist Ian Finch-Field after the infamous Christmas video wrapped.
Although this book is much more on the scale of a textbook than a light entertaining steampunk story, I still found it readable and humourous. The mentions of little Mimi are delightful and I adore her interpretation of steampunk "...it's about chickens and teapots". Author James Carrott surmises "...it's the sense of inclusive play that "chickens and teapots" implies...". Cherie Priest has stated in the past "if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong". This is one of my favourite aspects of steampunk.
Their final thoughts play with the idea that steampunk is an indicator of change and the "delicious link between cultural change and technology". They theorize much more, but the book really lends itself to open interpretation by the reader.
You can find Vintage Tomorrows through O'Reilly Media.
There is also a related documentary entitled Vintage Tomorrows which will hopefully be available soon as well.