Steampunk Style edited by Steampunk Oriental Laboratory (book review).

February 25, 2014 | By | Reply More

Now ‘Steampunk Style’ is a really unusual book. Its sub-title is ‘The Complete Illustrated Guide For Contraptors, Gizmologists And Primocogglers Everywhere’. Although I get the bit about makers of contraptions and gizmos, I don’t really know what a ‘primo’ is. The people who created the material are listed at the back of the book and hail from Japan.


The initial eight-five pages shows a variety of photographs of things that wouldn’t be out of place in a time period that predates our own but using Victorian technology to its extreme. In other words, steampunk! Except that what you are seeing isn’t illustrations but things that people in Japan have really made. From there on, you are shown how to make these things for yourself. Whether you can do so or not depends on how good you are at scratch-building and have the equipment and patience to do so.


Although I would have thought it would have made sense to put them in the order of ease to complicated, they are more in a chaotic order and you will have to work your way through to find some that you might want to try first or indeed inspire you to create something like it.


The source of the various materials are cited for Japan and possibly America although I suspect ardent scratch-builders will know what they are looking for and those who are starting will have to learn the art of improvisation to locate the bits needed. Looking at some of these, although I found it rather amusing that a ballpoint pen was attached to a feather, I’m surprised they hadn’t thought of just making a quill pen. All you need is a nifty feather and to clip the tip for a nib. Likewise, although coffee is suggested to age a picture, tea is just as effective and PhotoShop or PaintShop can easily make any picture have a sepia look. Using a pig’s trotters for skeletal decoration, I would suggest anyone trying this out to take photos of them as the lengthy process to boil away the fat so putting them back together afterwards can be done easier. Come to that, boiling each foot separately would be even easier so not to confuse the bones.


There is also two pages detailing the history of Steampunk although I’m not really sure if Tim Powers ‘The Anubis Gates’ is totally within the genre as they used a time machine to get back into the past. If anything, it’s the small number of books sited that tends to make the genre look small.


If you’re into Steampunk you are going to absolutely love this book. If you’re into scratchbuilding models and haven’t gone Victorian yet then this is going to widen your horizons. I would be interested in seeing a companion book based off Cyberpunk just to see what could be imaginatively built along those lines. Seeing a Victorian-looking computer keyboard is going to spin a lot of people methinks. Fascinating.

GF Willmetts

February 2014

(pub: Titan Books. 163 page illustrated softcover. Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78116-847-9)

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Category: Books, Illustration, Steampunk

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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