The Steampunk Aesthetic: Background information when reading The Technologists

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Technologists

A Novel

by Matthew Pearl

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl X
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2012, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2012, 512 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Steampunk Aesthetic

Print Review

Furnaces, circuits, and laboratory paraphernalia; "gasometers, gauges, air pumps, and troughs of... galvanic fluid"; clocks and submersibles - these are the trappings of nineteenth-century science at work throughout The Technologists. These are also the elements that make up the aesthetic side of the "Steampunk" movement - Victorian design plus scientific invention, natural materials plus cutting-edge technology. The creative synthesis of the historical and the innovative has spawned a wide range of fantastically appealing visual creations.

Forevertron Park

Sculptor Tom Every ("Dr. Evermor") is the genius behind Forevertron Park, a sculpture garden of salvaged-metal creations with a distinct Steampunk look. Every's sculptures combine industrial cast-offs (including some from the Victorian era) to create mechanical animals, insects, and esoteric machines:

Spider sculpture by Daniel Proulx Utopian flying machines of the 19th century, France Loudspeaker Bird by Tom Every

Artists, such as Steampunk sculptor and creator Jake von Slatt, do an especially satisfying job of re-envisioning contemporary technology, especially phones and computers, in Victorian materials. Likewise, Steampunk fashion is a mash-up of velvets and old-fashioned machine parts; the corset makes a comeback as a sexy necessity - not as a foundation garment, but as sculptural outerwear. And inside the home, Steampunk combines an art-nouveau reverence for natural forms (like the undulating tentacles of the octopus) with a love of cast-iron and copper industrial shapes.

Steampunk-styled arm prosthesis by Thomas Willeford The Steampunk movement offers a fascinating record of how times have changed and our cultural "eye" with them. A couple of generations ago it would have been inconceivable for a Victorian aesthetic to seem cutting-edge. Just as corsets used to be unequivocal emblems of repression, the word "Victorian" was a blanket condemnation of all that was garish and tasteless and prudish. Steampunk turns all that on its head in a way that proves our contemporary imagination has a new relationship with the nineteenth century. Steampunk reminds us that the Victorians were bursting with creativity, innovation, and invention. We are still living in the modern world they made, and their ideas about how to make technology beautiful continue fuel the imagination.

For more on the literary side of the Steampunk movement, see author Cherie Priest's post, "Steampunk for Beginners," on the BookBrowse blog, or check out this resource guide for all things Steampunk, The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer (New York, 2011).

Spider sculpture by Daniel Proulx, Dr. Evermor's Loudspeaker Bird image and Forevertron panoramic by JerFaludi, G. D. Falksen wearing a steampunk-styled arm prosthesis by Thomas Willeford image by Tyrus Flynn

This article was originally published in March 2012, and has been updated for the November 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Only Child
    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin
    Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse ...
  • Book Jacket: Brass
    Brass
    by Xhenet Aliu
    In 1996, Waterbury, Connecticut is a town of abandoned brass mills. Eighteen-year-old Elsie ...
  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.