Once upon a time, in a Victorian era that never existed, the world was full of marvelous contraptions that were both functional and beautiful. Wondrous objects harnessed lightning, let individuals fly and travel through time, and protected their eyes in the most fashionable way. This is, in part, the vision of the Steampunk movement, a spinoff of science fiction.
But it has become more than just a literary movement, evolving into an artistic movement, as well. Art Donvan’s photo-heavy book, The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement, based on an art exhibit presented by Oxford University’s Museum of the History of Science, gives you a glimpse into this world through the works of a selection of Steampunk artists from across the globe.
The focal point of The Art of Steampunk is the photography. Every page features at least one picture of a Steampunk artifact, from goggles to clocks to fantastical flying machines. “Steampunk creations may be mechanical, sculptural or purely decorative,” writes Mr. Donovan. “The designs may be practical or completely fanciful.” Regardless, each object is obviously part of a larger whole that helps create the world of Steampunk.
Steampunk has a Victorian sensibility and celebrates the craftsmanship of a time when individual artisans and inventors created new technology—not big corporations like today. There is a strong emphasis on brass and fine woods, along with vintage objects left behind from our, real Victorian era. Many of the artifacts make use of watch and clock parts, with lots of gears and mechanical moving parts.
Flipping through this book, you’ll be delighted by fanciful technology of a never-gone-by but still familiar time. Think H. G. Wells and Jules Verne and you’ll have an inkling of the Steampunk esthetic view of the world.
In addition to the visually stunning content, you can read about each artist and how he or she was drawn to this distinctive artistic style. Many of the artists use Steampunk pseudonyms such as Professor Isadora Maelstromme and Captain Sydeian.
You also learn how this subgenre of science fiction evolved and developed its own community, from its roots in 19th century scientific adventures to its current lifestyle option.
The book design not only showcases the art but also presents it in a complementary style. The Art of Steampunk is a visual treat that you can peruse time and time again, as well as proudly display on your coffee table for your guests to enjoy.