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Working up a head of steam

May 10, 2008 |  8:52 am


Steampunk is another entry point into the Victorian era by way of a wormhole: a subculture movement that is the result of an "intersection of technology and romance," as it was reported in some East Coast newspaper this week. Philip Pullman's alternate version of the world--with zeppelins, golden compasses and anbaric-powered gadgets--in "His Dark Materials" taps into it; so do the stories of Jules Verne and the movie "Brazil"; William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's "The Difference Engine" anticipated it. At Jake von Slatt's Steampunk Workshop, you'll see an image of a personal computer framed in brass, looking more appropriate on the deck of an airship than in someone's home office.

"Steampunk_3I still haven't gotten a handle on it," Jake confesses about the steampunk movement. I agree with him. He adds: "But anything that brings together such a wide range of artists, makers and fans has got to be good."

Next month, Tachyon will publish an anthology dedicated to giving readers a sense of what it means to define steampunk as a vision of "Victorian elegance and modern technology." The book includes context--surveys of steampunk in pop culture--as well as stories by Joe R. Lansdale, James P. Blaylock, Michael Chabon and others, in addition to excerpts from influential works by Michael Moorcock and Neal Stephenson.

All I can say right now is, it's a great time to be a reader.

Nick Owchar

Photo credit: New Line Cinema