The first thing that struck me about Vintage Tomorrows was its size. Almost 400 pages of information on Steampunk, maker culture, counter-culture, history of the scene, events, and the list goes on. The authors James H. Carrott and Brian D. Johnson set out to discover the scene for themselves and take a very personal dive.
Vintage Tomorrows offers a staggering amount of information and to do it full justice I would have to give a short synopsis of each chapter and essay. Instead, I have to make do with a broader review.
The information given in Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology is mostly about the US Steampunk scene and takes a few rare glimpses beyond. One notable essay is by the famed Briton Professor Elemental. In it he tackles Imperialism and Steampunk and does not pull any punches Yes, there are reasons why this pseudo-neo-whatever Victorian subculture is not particularly popular in some parts of the world. I have to congratulate the Professor for his contribution.
But I am already deep in the book here, there are some essays of note (and surprise) right at the beginning. For one thing, the mention of Timothy Leary at first surprised me but then it made perfect sense. Timothy Leary is a god of hippie counterculture and as such he deserves a place in a book about the Steampunk counterculture. From this starting point, the story, a sort of road trip into Steampunkness begins The authors visit conventions, interview the movers and shakers of the American scene, attend a dinner attended by some of the most notable faces in US Steampunk and go well beyond the usual “gears, goggles and steam engine” stereotypes.
Vintage Tomorrows is somewhere between a road trip diary, an adventure tale and an anthropological field study. It is a very unique book in a segment dominated by fantastic literature and Stempunk-themed DIY books. It shows the reader the full scope of the scene and proves it is far more than some playground for nice but odd people who like to dress up.
I do not agree with all the conclusions Carrott and Johnson draw and find it a bit sad the rest of the Steampunk world is shut out from the pages of the book but nevertheless, Vintage Tomorrows is a book no Steampunk should be without. And if you want to take a look at Steampunk from the viewpoint of cultural anthropology, this is your starting point.
9 out of 10 Zeppelins