1 : a brief summary of a larger work or of a field of knowledge : abstract
2 a : a list of a number of items
b : collection, compilation
3 My new new favorite word that is really fun to say
1: an error in chronology; especially : a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other
2: a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place; especially : one from a former age that is incongruous in the present
3: the state or condition of being chronologically out of place
4: Another fun word that is sorely underused
My discovery of the year has been Steampunk, a sub-genre and sub-culture of anachronistic science fiction. Take modern technology and transport it back to the late 19th – early 20th century add some magic and some steam-powered imagination and after a little tinkering you’ll have your own little model of the great airship of Steampunk. Recently two books have called to me from their shelves with the whispering of leaky steam pipes and the quite ticking and whiring and pocket watch cogs. The first is The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer, being “a fully illustrated compendium tracing the roots and history of [Steampunk], from the work of it’s godfathers Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, to the key figures who first coined the word that would spawn a literary genre, to the vast community of craftsman and artists that has translated to spark into a lifestyle”. This book pretty much speaks for itself and will have you gearing up for your own Steampunk adventure.
The second book, written by one of the godmothers of steampunk, snuck up on me with a loud and dark clank! That was the Steampunk edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The illustrations o Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumerac are edgy and dark transporting you into the science fictional realm of the 1800s. I would like to note, as I did recently while watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at home, that while Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelly are certainly the precursors to Steampunk, it should be remembered that these authors wrote contemporary science fiction of their day and age thus lacking the anachronistic quality that is so characteristic to Seampunk. Case in point, while the fashion of Steampunk is absolutely fabulous Mary Shelly would have been frowned upon in the society of her day for wearing what Steampunk ladies may freely rock today.
Post Script: After acquiring these wonderful books at your UConn co-op, if you are looking for a place with a Steampunk atmosphere, a good place to settle down with these fantastic books is The Steampunk Café in Danielson, CT.
The Steampunk Bible. Vandermeer, Jeff. New York: Abrams, 2011. Print.