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A Preview of Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel


Love Steampunk? How about robots? And what about fictions pretending to be reality? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, you're likely to love the heck out of Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, out from Abrams Books in October. Abrams was kind enough to send me a preview of the book, in unbound form, and it's spectacular. The creators of Boilerplate have meticulously inserted the robot into various phases of twentieth-century history, weaving his story into our own. The book expands on the original online avatar of Boilerplate.

A lovely foreword sets Boilerplate up as "the world's first robot soldier," created by Professor Archibald Campion in 1893 to prevent "the deaths of men in the conflicts of nations." Since then, Boilerplate has "charged into combat alongside such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia." Not only that, he's traveled to the South Pole, "saved Pancho Villa's life," made silent movies, and "hobnobbed with the likes of Mark Twain and Tesla." The book purports to tell the story of Boilerplate as "one of history's great enigmas, a technological breakthrough that languished in obscurity," until now.

Having created a fictional reality with my own fake disease guide, supposedly edited by a certain Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead, I really appreciate the work that went into this book. It's not easy to fabricate on this large a scale, especially engaging the historical context in an intelligent way. I've seen many people get it wrong. Here it's all done right. Guinan and Bennett get the large-scale context right, but it's the little details that really make it work, from the variety of period-accurate art and photos to the images of Boilerplate action figures and his appearance in comic strips.

You can preorder Boilerplate on Amazon. While you're waiting, though, here are some photos of the interior for the curious...







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I happened upon the 'Boilerplate' website by seeing a fan-made copy of the sculpture made for the 'Just Glue It' contest on I've always loved older Science Fiction and in recent years have read a few 'steam-punk' stories including an anthology from which I learned about even earlier types of technological fiction such as the "Edisonade". This book is sort of in the steampunk genre and at the same time it's very inventive in it's own right.

I also noticed that Boilerplate has a passing resemblance to Bender from Futurama. A distant relative perhaps? Maybe some connection to 'Chronopolis'? (One of this authors other works) Or is he 'genetically' related to 'The Master Cylinder' from the 'Felix the Cat' cartoons that were on TV during the Sixties? These and other intriguing questions will be answered in future episodes...................

Sounds so interesting! It also sounds like a book that my kids will like as much as myself. Can't wait to read it!

Wow! Sounds so interesting! It also sounds like a book that my kids will like as much as myself. Can't wait to read it!

Congratulations!! Was Boilerplate involved in protesting the vote in Iran? What are the heartbreakers going to do to foil the evil I'm-a-dinner-jacket? Ordering my copy of Boilerplate now, but will there be serial updates? Sadly (for humanity) there is an eternal supply of war stories that can frame Boilerplate's courage and resourcefulness.

Thanks for spreading the word about our Boilerplate book! We couldn't be more pleased that you think "it's all done right." Paul and I put a lot of work into the research, images, and writing, and our editor and designers sweated over it too. I hope readers enjoy the end result when Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel sees print in October.

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