Sunday, February 17, 2013

O'Reilly book Vintage Tomorrows by J.H. Carrot and B.D. Johnson


Steampunk Journey


This book is a dual journey of Steampunk. It is personal journeys of the authors and also the journey of the Steampunk into present culture. In the book the authors (a historian and a futurist) travel through steampunk and world while interview a number of prominent people in the steampunk genre.

While O'Reilly is in my mind a company publishing software and computing books, this book is neither. It is still very much connected to technology and future of technology.

The authors had noticed how steampunk has been a rising cultural trend and decided to start a book project 2010 on the subject. The project quickly turned into this book and a movie.

"What is steampunk?" was question presented many times in the book and among answers were aesthetics, genre in arts, chickens and teapots (according to the authors daughter), and counter-culture redefining the relationship between humans and technology.

To find answer in to this and other questions authors journeyed around cons, world and fiction. The interviews and discussions gave some answers and much of is was about technology and humanity. Steampunk wants technology to be fun and adventurous, not hermetic and dooming. Many other topics, like imperialism, gender equality, and racism were also covered.

The authors related part of steampunk into the current mainstream technology which is closed and sterile with user forbidden to modify it. The steampunk allows users to mess around with their technological gadgets. In this sense steampunk is a counter-culture against current times, like hippies in earlier time. The authors and many others believe that steampunk-culture is about to burst into the global consciousness and thus change the world.

I really loved the book and like all great books it gave a lots of answers, but provoked even more questions into my small mind. Is Jolla part of steampunk? Where I could buy steampunk styled goggles with prescription strengths? When can I afford (money and time vise) to travel to the Burning Man? Would The Neverwas Haul be there then? And others. One minor thing was that the pdf-version of the book is huge, 150+ MB, but the pictures were worth it.

The book receives 5/5

ps. There is also a free companion "Steampunking Our Future: An Embedded Historian's Notebook" by same authors available from O'Reilly. The style is same as in the main book so you can check it before buying the main book.

I got this book via O'Reilly bloggers review program.

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