The Real World of Victorian Steampunk (Kindle)
Steam Planes and Radiophones
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In the last few decades, steampunk has blossomed from being a rather obscure and little-known subgenre of science fiction into a striking and distinctive style of fashion, art, design and even music. It is in the written word however that steampunk has its roots and in this book Simon Webb explores and examines the real inventions which underpin the fantasy. In doing so, he reveals a world unknown to most people today.
The Real World of Victorian Steampunk shows the Victorian era to have been a surprising place; one of steam-powered aeroplanes, fax machines linking Moscow and St Petersburg, steam cars travelling at over 100 mph, electric taxis and wireless telephones. It is, in short, the nineteenth century as you have never before seen it; a steampunk extravaganza of anachronistic technology and unfamiliar gadgets. Imagine Europe spanned by a mechanical internet; a telecommunication system of clattering semaphore towers capable of transmitting information across the continent in a matter of minutes. Consider too, the fact that a steam plane the size of a modern airliner took off in England in 1894.
Drawing entirely on contemporary sources, we see how little-known developments in technology have been used as the basis for so many steampunk narratives. From seminal novels such as The Difference Engine, through to the steampunk fantasy of Terry Pratchett’s later works, this book shows that steampunk is at least as much solid fact as it is whimsical fiction.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Vivienne O'Regan
A highly informative study that explores the real inventions mainly during the Victorian period that inspired the sub genre of steampunk in science fiction and fantasy, which has further influenced fashion, art, and design.
Webb clearly has a strong grasp of the technology of the period covered alongside a passion for the literature associated with steampunk. He cites many works and their relation to the original inventions.
It really is a treasure trove and almost on every page I found that I was amazed by the revelations including of many inventors and their inventions sidelined by history. I had no idea that the electric car predated the petrol driven one by decades or that Victorians were exploring solar power and other sustainable energies.
I felt that I was learning a great deal about the history of science and technology alongside a deeper appreciation of steampunk in literature.
In his Endword Webb writes: “The world created by the authors of steampunk novels and short stories strikes us as outlandish and fantastic, simply because we do not know enough about the history of the real world in which we live. It is hard to find a single invention mentioned in steampunk literature which did not have its counterpart in the age of the Victorians.”
He concludes: “Steampunk, although generally described as a genre of science fiction, has in fact far more in common with science fact than most aficionados ever realize.”
Just fascinating from start to finish. I would love to see this commissioned as a television series! Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Colin Edwards
Read. This. Book. I confess that the title didn’t really appeal to me. I have a vague concept of what steampunk is, but I would I describe my interest as being on the tepid side of mild. However, this is the most interesting non-fiction book – no, scrap that qualifier. This is THE most interesting book I have read for a looooong time.
This book is very well researched indeed. The author, Simon Webb, is obviously a steampunk fan and this book simply seeks to explain the real science and inventions behind some of the fictional technology in steampunk books. I couldn’t believe how long ago the first versions of what we consider to be modern technology appeared. Yet, what could have been a dry-as-dust geeky tome is very well written and is very readable indeed.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Tamara Hayessen
This was a great book to read! I love history and I know a lot about it, I would say, but here were so many new things for me that I couldn't stop being surprised. I've learnt so much by reading this book. The style is very easy, even for somebody like me (not being a mother-tongue Englisch speaker), I could understand even the technical details, which I didn't expect. The author knows how to make the reader interested, mostly through this connection to steampunk novels. I love it that the author does nor only describe the different machines or vehicles, but also answers the questions why we use the vehicles or machines we do. It is this bigger picture that makes the book even more fascinating.
A great read!
This is an interesting book, full of interesting facts and information.NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso
It's well researched, informative and entertaining.