I have recently been perusing Brian Robb's lovely Steampunk: An Illustrated History of fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film, and Other Victorian Visions
... and may I digress to say that peruse is one of those words that, like bemused, have come to mean its opposite, and therefore is of rather dubious usefulness. Peruse theoretically means "to read thoroughly," and "bemused" to mean "bewilder, stun"; but we seem to use peruse to mean "browse," and bemuse to mean "mildly surprised"...
... but no matter. It is a lovely book that investigates the phenomenon of science fiction set in a more technologically competent Victorian Age, where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's Analytical Engine enables steam-powered airships and, possible, Captain Nemo's Nautilus. If the science fiction of the future is getting a little hard to follow, then the science fiction of the past is more easily swallowed.
Some of my favorite authors are in here. Tim Powers (of The Anubis Gates
, although it is not strictly steam-powered), and Neal Stephenson (of The Diamond Age
, although that's really nanotech); and I imagine when I have the time I can get into James Blaylock some more, the chap who actually invented Steampunk as a lifestyle choice and not merely a territory.
I would not have minded a few more pictures of modern steampunk cosplay, especially if they involved Lady Clankington
. But this is a survey, and it needs to leave room for Manga and Wild, Wild West
. My only real quibble is that when the book fell to the floor, the binding took it rather badly. I guess I will have to encase it in some sort of leather and springloaded iron contraption...