What’s over 30 years old, encrusted with clock parts, and only now reaching its peak of popularity?
If you guessed rapper Flavor Flav, guess again--it’s Steampunk, possibly the only literary movement to take three decades to go from a sputtering spark to a full-on raging fire. A retro-futurist perspective fuels Steampunk, which leans heavily on the influence of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as well as outdated tech from the early days of the Industrial Revolution.
The term was first coined by K.W. Jeter in 1986 to describe his novels Morlock Night and Infernal Devices, just reissued this year by Angry Robot. Since then it’s been picked up by comics, movies, the maker movement, fashion, music, and more. Indeed, you could say that the current revival in the commercial fortunes of the fiction is mostly due to a burgeoning subculture that is into aspects of Steampunk other than the writing.
Which brings me to The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature, which I coauthored with S.J. Chambers. It’s the first comprehensive overview of all aspects of Steampunk, with over 150 full-color images. In addition to chapters on everything from Origins to Movies, we wove in a number of sidebars, including a feature on Sean Orlando, talking about his Raygun Rocketship (part of the “raygun gothic” subgenre of Steampunk), an interview with the band HUMANWINE, and the Steampunk Workshop’s Jake von Slatt showing readers how to etch tins with saltwater and electricity.