February 15, 2013
Science is full of amazing things, most of which seem to be geared towards blowing – my – mind. As a librarian, I think the same thing about fiction. A story can transport, confound, and absolutely astound you just as easily. It follows that science fiction must then be as good as it gets – at least I like to think so.
Sometimes there’s so much to love about science fiction that the only way to appreciate it with any finesse is to break it down. That said, I"ve been examining science fiction sub-genres lately, and the sub-genre du jour is steampunk. This sci-fi off-shoot was coined by another writer, K. W. Jeter, who wanted to better define his alternative history works and the writings of his contemporaries like H.G. Wells.
Thus, "steampunk" was born.
Steampunk is generally set during the Victorian era. If not in Great Britain, you might see the American West during the same time as the setting. While the place is often the past, it’s the devices that identify this sub-genre, and they are futuristic indeed. Like Wells’ time machine, steampunk tales involve steam-powered gadgets, automaton (like in The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the movie Hugo), or flying dirigibles.
One of my favorite steampunk trilogies is Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and like so many great books, it inspired another film, The Golden Compass.
The look of steampunk is just as enticing as the stories. The gadgets make their way into the Victorian aesthetic of top hats and corsets. MCPL has a list of great art books that prominently feature steampunk inspired design. I’m a big fan of Steampunk Emporium. Check it out if you could use a little inspiration, or better yet, come to our hands-on session, Steampunk’d. This teen event will allow participants to create a few steampunk pieces, and we’ll talk books and have titles on hand for check out. The event is on March 15th here at the Claycomo Branch at 7:00 p.m.
Hope to see you then, and until then, happy reading!