This book is an excellent read for those who enjoy imagination. Steampunk for Simpletons is a guide for those looking to learn about a particular sub-genre of fiction. To be fair, now that I’ve read the book, it is more like a detailed look at a life through brass goggles fogged by hot tea. The first in a line of books intended to educate about “things which are off the beaten path”, this book delivers its message well. Whether you’re well versed on the topic of steampunk, are just getting into it, or haven’t a clue but are intrigued, get yourself a copy of this book.
I received a digital copy from someone with a cool first name, Travis I. Sivart. The term “steampunk” has appeared in different social media feeds, from posts on Google+ showing various designs to tweets about literature. I knew little, and wanted to learn more. When I spoke to him about reviewing this book, I thought I would receive a handbook on good books set in the Victorian era, and how to make things look old and ornate. My idea was soon turned on its head when I began to learn about the various ways to express an interest in steampunk.
What all fits within this culture? What is it about this distinct look? Why is it called, steampunk? This and so much more is covered. Just one of the many topics is the look many portray. People create a look, taking steampunk to a personal level, sometimes complete with hand-crafted accessories. To be honest, I’ve never cared too much for cosplay. But then I recalled how I’ve always been fond of how eloquently dressed people were during the Victorian era and realized that I’ve always had an appreciation for the time period upon which steampunk is loosely based. That’s just it, though – there aren’t stifling rules setting out what can and cannot fit. I won’t try to give my definition of steampunk here. I will, however, tell you that since reading Steampunks for Simpletons, I feel as if I can define steampunk in my own way by contributing to it.
The book goes into much more, yet keeps it all properly presented under a parasol. So much is laid out within the term, all done so in categorized chapters peppered with insights. Labeled with corresponding icons, paragraphs of related content can be found throughout the book delivering information from a different narrative. As you are guided along through the expanding scene, occasional and planned detours get your attention before putting you back on track. And this is no pamphlet, mind you. This is best defined as a tome. With two dozen chapters in five parts, you are getting the firehose to your request for a drink of water in terms of steampunk.
This course, charted out from the onset by those responsible for writing Steampunk for Simpletons, is steam powered and lifted by helium. It accompanied by the appropriate food and music. There is something Victorian about it all, or possibly of the Wild West. Or, looking like it took place during that time, but from somewhere else entirely. Travis I. Sivart and Wendy L. Callahan have done a fine job creating this book, along with the several other contributors who have lent their voices. I would like to add that the many additional contributors bring even more to the book, by rounding it out and making it more comprehensive. Travis and Wendy are leading the sled here, with several huskies participating in pulling a cargo bed of a variety of topics. Random analogy? The first documented dog sled race was in 1850 – during the Victorian era.
There might be some out there who look at any group with some apprehension. Which is normal – they’re part of something you don’t (yet) understand. But as I knew nothing about the topic when getting this book, I would suggest you look at this how I did and be curious about how a sub-genre of science fiction has become much more. Just reading about what to some is considered a lifestyle, has become entertaining; certainly, it is fun to learn about something that is more than the sum of its parts. You’re likely to find something about it that will hook you, even if not every part of it is for you. You could just have a burgeoning interest wondering what’s up with the goggles and airships, or you could be well involved with the scene and make good use of the recipes and DIY sections of the book.
I would go on, but if you are at this point any bit interested in learning more, I implore you to pick up a copy and spend this time reading about steampunk. Now that I’ve read Steampunk for Simpletons, I’ve added some other books to my reading list that either helped start it or have come from it. And, I might look into getting a good tea pot. I want to see more books from this Simpleton series. The topic of steampunk being their first entry, this “social DIY” series is off to a great start.