Steampunk = cool

By skepticlawyer

Now this is seriously cool, friends and neighbours.

I tracked down this YouTube advertisement for Scott Westerfield’s forthcoming novel Leviathan via Perry Middlemiss’ literature blog Matilda. As friends of mine know, I’m a fan of steampunk — in part because I like its visual aesthetic — so it’s interesting to see someone marry steampunk with the biomechanoids of H. R. Giger and go from there:


Perry makes the following point about steampunk:

We all know the effect that the Harry Potter books had on the younger section of the reading public – and, yes, the older one as well – but the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published on 21 December 2006, nearly three years ago. The “big thing” after that was the Twilight series of teenage vampire novels from Stephanie Meyer, the first of which was published on 5 October 2005, and the second, New Moon, on 6 September 2006. So, by the time the Harry Potter series of novels had run its course, the Twilight series was in second gear and accelerating fast. Now, although Meyer – unlike Rowling – is still publishing novels in her preferred genre, the Twilight books at least have come to an end with the fourth in the series, Breaking Dawn, being published in August 2008.

All of which, in my view, leaves a bit of a gap. And it was this gap that I alluded to in my earlier post. One of the commenters on that earlier blog suggested “steampunk” might be the genre to step up and make its mark.

datamancer #5

That there is definitely something in the literary (and cultural) air is indicated by this exhibition, which opens at Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science next Tuesday, and which I will — of course — be seeing. Do follow that link; there are some glorious images on the other side, and it will be interesting to see what a museum that is already stuffed full of beautiful objects does with a display of even more beautiful objects. A particular favourite is the steampunk keyboard, which I’ve featured in this post.



  1. Posted October 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Actually I never realised that you were a steampunker, SL. I myself like the Victorian Age and SF so anything that combines the two is double the goodness (However, I should like to point out that I don’t actually dress in costume or spend absurd amounts of money on brass knicknacks).

    You do realise however that Scott Westerfield is a Young Adult writer?

  2. Posted October 10, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of Steampunk books – I recently read a review of Soulless by Gail Carrigger ( that sounded interesting.

    You may also like the quasi-comic strip – The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage ( You will come for the crimefighting and stay for the obscure historical footnotes.

  3. Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I figured Westerfield was a YA writer from the YouTube vid, but have always had a great deal of respect for the best YA writing; in some respects it’s bolder than a great deal of adult fiction, and I think that should be encouraged.

    And welcome back, by the way — we haven’t seen you around these parts for a while.

  4. Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Oxford University has put up a nice slideshow of some of the exhibits here.

  5. Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Gotta ask… did you see “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and what did you think of Nemo’s toys? Could they also be steampunk?

  6. Posted October 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Does this classify as a steampunk aesthetic? (From the Wellcome 2009 Medical Image Awards Gallery

  7. AJ
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    This is coolest steampunked thing I have seen:

    But I can help but think all that brass and wood impacts on its practicality

  8. Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Yep, AJ, that is dead cool… but then again, steampunk is a Victorian aesthetic. You’d have servants to lug your uber-heavy mechanical laptop about for you…

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