Commence with generalizing statement about the present popularity of Steampunk. Follow with a definition of Steampunk borrowed for Wikipedia. Mention a few examples. Complain that my word processor still doesn’t recognize the word despite its popularity. Throw in a reference to the latest Sherlock Holmes movie with its “steampunk flavor.” Finish introductory paragraph with a smooth connection into reviewer-land; drop title and author of book being reviewed.
Sorry, the clever hook just isn’t coming today, so we’ll just hop right over it and get straight to the reviewing. The title in question is Steampunk Fashion by Spurgeon Vaughn Ratcliffe. And, now that we’ve established that Steampunk’s all the rage these days, it should come as no surprise that there’s yet another Steampunk book. Hey, everybody seems to love it and I admit, I did have a thing for it myself. I thought all the gears and watches and Victorian hats were pretty cool.
The book in question, however, appears to be more or less a catalogue: it’s a series of chapters, each dedicated to a Steampunk designer, with photos of their creations and a short paragraph about their general aesthetic attitude. In terms of being informative about Steampunk, it’s not really: it notes some notable names and their inspirations, as well as how they began designing, but says nothing about the philosophy behind Steampunk aesthetics.
To complement these often too short descriptions, however, are the photos. I’ve always been an avid fan of art books, and enjoy poring over beautiful illustrations and high quality photos. The ones in these book show Steampunk creations, from dresses and corsets to jewelry and masks, in intricate detail. The upside is that, unlike those frustrating art books in which each object pictured is unattainable behind some museum glass, the ones in these book are easy to purchase, and the final few pages list the names and websites of all of the creators listed.
In general, however, this title is not exactly a resource. It’s great for finding some places to begin a steampunk collection, and an interesting book to look through to pass the time, but it fails to serve as anything besides lightly entertaining.