The Bibliophile's Adventurers Club

Exemplars of bookish delight

In retrospect — Steampunk: Extraordinary Tales of Victorian Futurism

Steampunk

I’ll admit it; I bought Steampunk: Extraordinary Tales of Victorian Futurism for the cover. Armed with a gift card, I was perusing books when I happened upon this one: it was shiny, and steampunky, and oh-so lovely. The topic was simply a bonus.

In case your mind goes blank with the mention of ‘Steampunk:’

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery,[1] especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Therefore, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. {Wikipedia}

But Steampunk: Extraordinary Tales of Victorian Futurism is a little something different. Edited by Mike Ashley, this book is made up of short, little known tales of the ‘future.’  They were the stories published in serials or dime novels, between 1880 and 1894, when steam was set to power the industrial revolution — and sparked the imagination of the Victorian age. Through a set of fourteen stories, we see a people looking to the future, and seeing a world of automatons, airships, moving walkways, and secret societies.

In many ways, the book is a time capsule all its own.

It transports us to another age. It transports us to the dawn of science fiction — to the birthplace of steampunk. As we walk through history, we catch sight of our own day and age, and the lines between past and present begin to blur.

Paul Di Filippo, in his forward to the book, suggests, “Steampunk is science fiction’s age thirteen. Steampunk is the adolescent SF genre dreaming of the adult it hopes to grow up to become.”

Nowhere is this more true than with Steampunk: Extraordinary Tales of Victorian Futurism. Like most teenage years, it can be a bit awkward at times, a bit frightful in places, but overall it’s hopeful and full of promise–a glimpse at all that’s to come.

3 Comments

  1. AHH! We are internet twins for real – I love steampunk. Have you read all the steampunky fiction books?

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