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
  • 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: Do Not Become Alarmed
    Do Not Become Alarmed
    by Maile Meloy
    Full disclosure: I've never had any desire to go on a cruise. I start getting antsy and ...
  • Book Jacket: Priestdaddy
    Priestdaddy
    by Patricia Lockwood
    Patricia Lockwood is a poet and the daughter of Greg Lockwood, a Catholic priest. While Catholic ...
  • Book Jacket: Before We Sleep
    Before We Sleep
    by Jeffrey Lent
    Katey Snow, aged seventeen, leaves home one night. "There was a void within her and one that could ...

Win this book!
Win News of the World

News of the World

A brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Gypsy Moth Summer
    by Julia Fierro

    One of the most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T's S I Numbers

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

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.