Review: Vintage Tomorrows


VINTAGE-TOMORROWSVintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology
by James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson

Paperback: 412 pages
Publisher: Make
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1449337996
ISBN-13: 978-1449337995

(Barry’s score 4 stars out of 5)

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Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology

Product description:

What would today’s technology look like with Victorian-era design and materials? That’s the world steampunk envisions: a mad-inventor collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions powered by steam and driven by gears. In this book, futurist Brian David Johnson and cultural historian James Carrott explore steampunk, a cultural movement that’s captivated thousands of artists, designers, makers, hackers, and writers throughout the world.

Just like today, the late 19th century was an age of rapid technological change, and writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells commented on their time with fantastic stories that jumpstarted science fiction. Through interviews with experts such as William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, James Gleick, and Margaret Atwood, this book looks into steampunk’s vision of old-world craftsmen making beautiful hand-tooled gadgets, and what it says about our age of disposable technology.

Steampunk is everywhere—as gadget prototypes at Maker Faire, novels and comic books, paintings and photography, sculptures, fashion design, and music. Discover how this elaborate view of a history that never existed can help us reimagine our future.

My thoughts:

As is my habit, I like to flip to the back of a non-fiction book to look at the sources. I couldn’t help but get a chuckle over the the header Appendix A when image credits was the only item in the Appendix. Why have an Appendix A when there is no Appendix B? Having said that, there is a beefy eleven page Index that is extremely useful and I wish more non-fiction books had them.

The nineteen chapters of Vintage Tomorrows were a well-written exploration of Steampunk. While I am not sure that I agree with James H. Carrott that steampunk is a counterculture similar to hippies or beatniks, I can understand his argument.

Chapter 12’s “Pop Goes the Steampunk” began with Justin Bieber’s holiday music video “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The book begs the questions, “Is steampunk making its way into the mainstream? What is the relationship between music and technology? How is Justin Bieber like the Beatles?” Maybe it’s just me, but I am surprised that steampunk survived Justin Bieber.

The high point of the book had to be the interviews. I really enjoyed reading the various opinions from well-known authors. Vintage Tomorrows was a solid read and though I disagree with some of the opinions I enjoyed the book. I give it a solid 4 stars out of 5.

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