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Subject: STEAMPUNK!

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Subject: STEAMPUNK! Empty Subject: STEAMPUNK!

Post  Avalon Skyboat Mon Feb 07, 2022 9:01 am

So I know there's quite a bit of steampunk-themed literature out there, but how about texts concerning the subject of steampunk itself (i.e. history, culture, ideas, etc.)

Sorry if a similar thread already exists... I couldn't find one but there's probably one on here somewhere. If a mod knows of one and wants to merge this topic to a preexisting thread, my feelings won't be hurt, lol.

So because I'm new to steampunk, I decided to pick up a few books on the subject to try and educate myself a little.

I've found Jeff VanderMeer's 'Steampunk Bible' & 'Steampunk User's Manual' are great books for general steampunk background and info.

Art Donovan's 'The Art Of Steampunk' is a terrific text which spotlights various steampunk artists and features their work.

Jay Strongman's 'STEAMPUNK - the art of Victorian futurism' is probably my most favorite book so far. Tons of awesome color photographs, paintings and drawings, as well as some very enlightening text.

Thomas Willeford has published a maker book entitled, 'Steampunk - gears, gadgets, and gizmos (a maker's guide to creating modern artifacts)' and it features some inspiring projects that, by the looks of the color photos, appear to be super cool!

Please add any books you feel are worthy concerning this exciting and intriguing world. Oh, and how about documentaries / film?

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Post  von Corax Mon Feb 07, 2022 9:47 am

If you have the patience to do some digging, there are plenty of musings on the nature of Steampunk over on BG, in the "Metaphysical" board.

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Post  Avalon Skyboat Mon Feb 07, 2022 10:24 am

von Corax wrote:If you have the patience to do some digging, there are plenty of musings on the nature of Steampunk over on BG, in the "Metaphysical" board.

Thanks for the tip, I appreciate the pointer because there's so much to read on these boards, I didn't really know where to start. What a Face
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Post  J. Wilhelm Mon Feb 07, 2022 10:32 am

I think we have a couple of sections at Brassgoggles where you can find a list of texts. However, regarding the history of Steampunk, I think that first accounts from actual Steampunks will be more useful and forthcoming. You see, we actually lived through the rise of Steampunk when it began to Mainstream.

We knew Steampunk hit it big when it began to spread outside of the English speaking world, first to Europe, including France and Spain, but later it exploded in Latin America, around 2010 or so. Steampunk stopped being purely Victorian (aka British), or "Weird West" (aka American), and young people began adapting their own national history to the Steampunk movement. Naturally that happened because the Industrial Age was a global phenomenon, and virtually the entire planet had dealt directly with English speaking people who were either selling or forcing their industry to the whole world during the Guilded Age and the Empire periods. And so the Japanese latched on the Meiji Restoration Period as their Steampunk Era, Mexico latched to the Porfiriato Period (very similar to the Meiji transformation), and their Civil War ("La Revolución")Period, and Russia did the same for the Bolshevik Revolution. And I haven't even mentioned India as part of the British Empire! You get the idea.

It was easy to export Steampunk around the world, and the ideal "Steampunk Era" varies from country to country, depending on when the Industrial Age arrived to that part of the world. Contact with Europeans undoubtedly happened at each "Steampunk Period" and that has an effect on the Steampunk aesthetic for each country.

If you go much further back in time than 2009, say the early to mid 2000s, what you'll find is that Steampunk fused with the DIY movement right after being joined by people from the "Goth Diaspora" who felt some affinity for Steampunk because the horror genre and the Industrial Age both follow a 19th century aesthetic. And if you go further back than that, 1980s and earlier, then Steampunk was a purely literary movement, not something coexisting with costume play or making your own gadgets.

That's the most important thing to remember: Steampunk started as a literary movement.

As far as the 19th century science fiction congealing into something vaguely recognizable as Steampunk, we have the efforts in the 20th century by the likes of Disney (yes, I said Walt Disney) who interpreted the writings of Jules Verne, specifically 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and began to inject an aesthetic, albeit on the silver screen. Don't forget the influence of the American TV series"Wild Wild West" (1965-69).

Also seminal in the concept of Steampunk, were the writings of Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and the fascination of late 19th century and early 20th century people with science and "cosmic horror," arguably a fusion of horror and science fiction caused by the strain of tremendous scientific discovery (eg Theory of Relativity, Astronomical discoveries) around the turn of the century. You'll find Steampunk was influenced by War of the Worlds by HG Wells (1897) and even the short stories of HP Lovecraft written between 1913 and 1937.

Steampunk is more than anything Industrial Age folklore with an emphasis on the way 19th century people saw their future. For people in the Victorian Era it was Futurism. For us it's retrofuturism.

I hope this is a useful summary.


Last edited by J. Wilhelm on Mon Feb 07, 2022 10:38 am; edited 2 times in total
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Post  von Corax Mon Feb 07, 2022 10:33 am

Avalon Skyboat wrote:… there's so much to read on these boards, I didn't really know where to start. What a Face

Don't look at the Forum Stats bar at the bottom of the BG home page. affraid tongue

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Post  Ottens Mon Feb 07, 2022 12:33 pm

I recommend Cory Gross' History of Steampunk. A little old, but very thorough when it comes to the origins of the genre.

I can also recommend everything we've published on Genre Theory at Never Was.
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Post  Avalon Skyboat Wed Feb 09, 2022 4:41 am

J. Wilhelm wrote:I think we have a couple of sections at Brassgoggles where you can find a list of texts. However, regarding the history of Steampunk, I think that first accounts from actual Steampunks will be more useful and forthcoming. You see, we actually lived through the rise of Steampunk when it began to Mainstream.

We knew Steampunk hit it big when it began to spread outside of the English speaking world, first to Europe, including France and Spain, but later it exploded in Latin America, around 2010 or so. Steampunk stopped being purely Victorian (aka British), or "Weird West" (aka American), and young people began adapting their own national history to the Steampunk movement. Naturally that happened because the Industrial Age was a global phenomenon, and virtually the entire planet had dealt directly with English speaking people who were either selling or forcing their industry to the whole world during the Guilded Age and the Empire periods. And so the Japanese latched on the Meiji Restoration Period as their Steampunk Era, Mexico latched to the Porfiriato Period (very similar to the Meiji transformation), and their Civil War ("La Revolución")Period, and Russia did the same for the Bolshevik Revolution. And I haven't even mentioned India as part of the British Empire! You get the idea.

It was easy to export Steampunk around the world, and the ideal "Steampunk Era" varies from country to country, depending on when the Industrial Age arrived to that part of the world. Contact with Europeans undoubtedly happened at each "Steampunk Period" and that has an effect on the Steampunk aesthetic for each country.

If you go much further back in time than 2009, say the early to mid 2000s, what you'll find is that Steampunk fused with the DIY movement right after being joined by people from the "Goth Diaspora" who felt some affinity for Steampunk because the horror genre and the Industrial Age both follow a 19th century aesthetic. And if you go further back than that, 1980s and earlier, then Steampunk was a purely literary movement, not something coexisting with costume play or making your own gadgets.

That's the most important thing to remember: Steampunk started as a literary movement.

As far as the 19th century science fiction congealing into something vaguely recognizable as Steampunk, we have the efforts in the 20th century by the likes of Disney (yes, I said Walt Disney) who interpreted the writings of Jules Verne, specifically 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and began to inject an aesthetic, albeit on the silver screen. Don't forget the influence of the American TV series"Wild Wild West" (1965-69).

Also seminal in the concept of Steampunk, were the writings of Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and the fascination of late 19th century and early 20th century people with science and "cosmic horror," arguably a fusion of horror and science fiction caused by the strain of tremendous scientific discovery (eg Theory of Relativity, Astronomical discoveries) around the turn of the century. You'll find Steampunk was influenced by War of the Worlds by HG Wells (1897) and even the short stories of HP Lovecraft written between 1913 and 1937.

Steampunk is more than anything Industrial Age folklore with an emphasis on the way 19th century people saw their future. For people in the Victorian Era it was Futurism. For us it's retrofuturism.

I hope this is a useful summary.

A very useful summary, and one written in straight-forward language I can understand! Thanks for taking the time to share this condensed history of the steampunk movement J. Wilhelm... interesting stuff!

You know how the first exposure we have to something is usually the thing we always associate with it (i.e. first impressions)? So the first thing I remember seeing, that I eventually came to know as steampunk, was 4-non-blondes' "What's Up" music video. Obviously not the start of the movement but music also seems to have a big influence in the steampunk world as well.

This may come across as rather pathetic, but one of the reasons that I've taken an interest in Steampunk is just because there are other people involved with it. Many of my hobbies are rather solitary in nature, so it's fun to just consider involving myself in a 'movement' with other people.
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Post  Avalon Skyboat Wed Feb 09, 2022 4:42 am

von Corax wrote:
Avalon Skyboat wrote:… there's so much to read on these boards, I didn't really know where to start. What a Face

Don't look at the Forum Stats bar at the bottom of the BG home page. affraid tongue


Laughing Very Happy Laughing Very Happy
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Post  Avalon Skyboat Wed Feb 09, 2022 4:46 am

Ottens wrote:I recommend Cory Gross' ... A little old, but very thorough when it comes to the origins of the genre.

I can also recommend everything we've published on...

Thanks for these recommendations Ottens, I will look into both! (not allowed to post external links for 7 days, so had to edit them out of the quote, but I got 'em, thank you!)
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Subject: STEAMPUNK! Empty Book suggestion

Post  Bartholomew Thatch Sat Feb 26, 2022 1:17 am

"The Difference Engine" by : William Gibson and ‎Bruce Sterling‎

I thought this book was delightful. The descriptions and terminology are on point.

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