Fandom Friday: Steampunk

So, Fridays I am planning to look at some fun web sites/stories/etc. dedicated to "fan culture." Today, we are venturing into the world of steampunk.

For a quick overview, check out: "What is Steampunk?. Another fun resource: The Steampunk Tribune.

I have to say that I don't know a ton about the steampunk movement myself, but I find it fascinating...mainly because it combines a strange mixture of the Victorian era and today. I read "Reclaiming the Machine," an article by Rebecca Onion in the first issue of the Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies (this article is free online and of excellent quality). In any case, the article is fascinating and gave me a whole new appreciation for a cultural/literary movement. Up until this point, I really was only drawn in by the pretty brass and clockwork gears.

Chances are, you have encountered aspects of steampunk at certain points. (And the soon-to-be-released movie Cowboys and Aliens can be categorized as steampunk in some ways.) But steampunk has seeped into our culture in big ways over the last several years.

But we have seen aspects of steampunk show up in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series (airships and brass abound).


Or even in the third Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (still one of my favorites). We see a lot of brass and clockwork in this film: Lupin's office is full of brass scientific instruments; there are all kinds of screen shots of clocks and gears; and, even the time turner is a steampunk element. I love it--the perfect theme for a movie dealing with time and the past.

So, like I said, it has been showing up...and now there are entire book, manga, anime, and other types of media series totally devoted to steampunk. One of my favorites is the paranormal romance series by Gail Carriger: The Parasol Protectorate. Carriger does a lot of things with her series (and she has one of the coolest author web sites out there), including using each book to parody various genres of Victorian literature. The first book in the series, Soulless, is AMAZING. Loved it.


(Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_mPEPXtLxfEo/TSEm7DYcBZI/AAAAAAAAAi0/jjj1nlh_5g0/s1600/soulless.jpg)

I have enjoyed the others as well, but the first one was wonderful simply because it was so different from anything else I had ever read. She also had the best author bio I have ever read on the back cover of her book:

Ms. Carriger began writing in order to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of Armenian lovers, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. Soulless is her first book.


She maintains a wonderful internet presence through her blog (that is written in the same quirky voice), Twitter, and Facebook. I was so excited the couple of times she tweeted me back! She also has some great info on steampunk.

Another great series that incorporates steampunk is the teen series The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. The first book, Clockwork Angel, is amazing:


(Source: http://lifeaftertwilight.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/ClockworkAngelCoverart1.jpg)

It is one of the few books that made me step back and feel horrified at times. The cover of the next book has been revealed (LOVE IT)! These books are very dark, however, so consider yourselves warned...

In any case, steampunk, of course, will not appeal to everyone. But, there are some amazing aspects to it and it has become an area of study for scholars. There is a world of steampunk literature, some of it more hardcore than others. I like steampunk light, myself, so Carriger is perfect for me. But, if you are really into the idea, check out this list of reading material: Reading List.

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