The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement
By Art Donovan
If you have any interest in the Steampunk movement, you will probably have heard of the London exhibit that brought together Steampunk artists from all over the world. Art Donovan was the curator of that exhibit, and this tabletop book is a glimpse into the artwork and the artists from that presentation.
Steampunk is an odd combination of literature and an esthetic. It’s the design and costuming that is demonstrated through these images. However, the influence of both the Victorian Age and Steampunk literature is evident. The literature shows through the steam weapons, zeppelin structures, and pieces like the squid attack goggles by Joey Marsocci.
The book starts with an explanation of Steampunk that has a few interesting facts even for those aware of the culture, as well as giving newcomers a reasonable basis in the culture. My only quibble is the suggestion that the “punk” in the name has nothing to do with the examination of society through outliers, something that both the influence of Charles Dickens and the fact that early Steampunk literature did explore the impact of technology on society deny. Oh, and the articles even explain goggles.
However, that’s a minor disagreement compared to a visual bounty of works, some of which I’d seen through the video interview of the actual exhibit, but in the book you get not only the pictures but the placards and small bios, some tongue in cheek, of the artists themselves. The book is 132 pages, the majority of which are taken up by at least one piece if not several of Steampunk design. The range is broad from heat differential engines run on tea lights to attack machine models complete with crews to actual working clocks, both in Victorian style and in the “aviator” style adopted by Steampunk.
It’s a beautiful book of an exhibit I would have loved to see, which is why, when it came up for review on Net Galley, I requested a copy. My only regret is that this is a time limited galley, because I could see myself returning to these photographs for inspiration for my next Steampunk story.