Vintage Tomorrows

James H. Carrott & Brian David Johnson

Published by

Maker Media, Inc

ISBN

978-1-449-33799-5

RRP

£18.99

Reviewed by

Danny Williams MBCS CITP

Score

7 out of 10

To some people Steampunk is all about a bunch of people dressing up in Victorian clothes messing around with slightly odd-looking machinery - a manifestation of the world Jules Verne and H G Wells imagined.

To others, Steampunk is a fundamental backlash to the lack of excitement that most people feel about modern technology.

There is Steampunk literature, art, music but also politics and attitude. It also encompasses the aspects of the relatively new makers movement. Core to Steampunk appears to be old-world values of craftsmanship, tailoring and attention to detail.

This book is an autobiographical journey taken by Brian, a futurist, and James, a cultural historian. They come from very different backgrounds but share an interest in how the Steampunk phenomenon reflects society today and what it can tell us about tomorrow.

I found myself equally frustrated and engrossed in this book, making it challenging to review. There's a lot of navel-gazing, and possibly misplaced belief in the significance of Steampunk in today's world. But there are also lots of interesting insights and opinions provided by the wide range of people that Brian and James encounter on their journey.

I hadn't appreciated the relationship between Steampunk and Burning Man - the latter being an annual gathering of  tens of thousands of participants in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, who create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance. I also had no idea that Justin Bieber had made a Steampunk-inspired music video - but then I'm not a Beliber so that's hardly surprising!

Having fun with technology is one of the main aspects of Steampunk. The reader gets to explore this towards the end of the book, with the authors investigating the third era of computing. In particular they look at technology that has a sense of humour!

I chose to read this book so that I could learn about Steampunk; I feel I now have a far deeper understanding into the subculture, genre, trend, or whatever it is. At over 300 pages this is quite a tome, so if you just want an overview of Steampunk then look elsewhere. But if you're interested in the author's journeys as well as what they discover then I feel you'll be well rewarded by reading this book.

Further information: Maker Media,Inc

June 2013