by Cat Connolly
Literary Frontiers is a brand new series in the blog which gives us the chance to offer our perspective on both new and established science fiction and speculative fiction books. The series will publish around twice a month, or whenever one of us can finish and post one of our most recent reading projects.
This week's book is 1000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear & Art by Dr. Grymm. The review is available after the jump.
by Dr. Grymm
Quarry Books, 2011
“But you weren’t using it!”
My dad heaved a sigh of annoyance as he beheld the Frankenstein-reject doll I held in my gloved hands, its plush body covered in what used to be a hose ring, blunted screw “claws”, and other household repair items. Despite my father’s chagrin at my naiveté regarding the sanctity of “dad’s tool box,” that first absurd creation launched a love affair with knickknack monstrosities, all cobbled together from the bits and caprices I would pick out of dusty cabinets or excavate from the neighborhood park. Imagine my joy when I discovered a whole cultural movement based on the concept that broken or discarded baubles are an ideal medium for crafting works of art.
What’s the aforementioned cultural movement, you ask? Oh, just the coolest thing since Tesla coils: Steampunk. If you’re a neophyte to the genre, the back of this book puts it succinctly: “Steampunk is a burgeoning counter-cultural movement: a genre, community, and artform. The Steampunk movement seeks to recapture the spirit of invention, adventure, and craftsmanship reminiscent of early-nineteenth-century industrialization, in part to restore a sense of wonder to a technology-jaded world.”
Dr. Grymm’s anthology of cog-and-brass artistry, “1000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear & Art” is a splendid visual collection of works by crafty people around the globe. The mediums explored in the book, all beautifully photographed, include jewelry, costumes, modified appliances, sculpture, and prop weaponry used by live-action role players. Take a close look at the photos, and you will notice that almost every component of the artwork is made from discarded bits of metal, plastic, and leather—all things that are cheap and easy to find. Add some shiny baubles, old watch parts and perhaps some antique ephemera from granny’s button box and you can make your own Steampunk artifact.
Being a Steampunk aficionado, I found this book to be an excellent reference for my own inventions. There are objects employed in some of the art that I would never have expected to see used, such as the dismembered limbs of Kewpie dolls, old lamp bases, broken walkie-talkies and rusted kitchen appliances. The people at the DAV probably thought I was crazy when I bought all the brass items in their housewares section, but now I can craft that kettle-powered ray gun that I’ve always wanted.
Oh, the possibilities which await me! The cogs of my creative mind have already begun to spin. Forgive me, Dad, but I’m going to have to raid your tool shed once more...