Vintage Tomorrows
A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology
Publisher: Maker Media, Inc
Released: February 2013
Pages: 412

What would today’s technology look like with Victorian-era design and materials? That’s the world steampunk envisions: a mad-inventor collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions powered by steam and driven by gears. In this book, futurist Brian David Johnson and cultural historian James Carrott explore steampunk, a cultural movement that’s captivated thousands of artists, designers, makers, hackers, and writers throughout the world.

Just like today, the late 19th century was an age of rapid technological change, and writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells commented on their time with fantastic stories that jumpstarted science fiction. Through interviews with experts such as William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, James Gleick, and Margaret Atwood, this book looks into steampunk’s vision of old-world craftsmen making beautiful hand-tooled gadgets, and what it says about our age of disposable technology.

Steampunk is everywhere—as gadget prototypes at Maker Faire, novels and comic books, paintings and photography, sculptures, fashion design, and music. Discover how this elaborate view of a history that never existed can help us reimagine our future.

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4.1

(based on 7 reviews)

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100%

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  • Easy to understand (5)

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    4.0

    Vintage Tomorrows is a very good read.

    By Skipper3448

    from Lompoc, CA

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      Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

      The authors have put together a very compelling narrative. It is a fine example of how to write a non-fiction book. The writing is interesting from the beginning, and it gets more interesting as you progress through it.

      It is possible to write a boring book about an fascinating subject. Fortunately Vintage Tomorrows is not one of these. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested or curious about Steam Punk to read this book.

      I have compiled a list of books to read and movies to watch that are referenced in Vintage Tomorrows.

      One word of caution: when I purchased the ebook, I did not know there is a free companion book. Ensure you choose the package instead of only Vintage Tomorrows.

       
      2.0

      Interesting premise

      By Typeglyph

      from Montreal, Quebec

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            Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

            Interesting read.

             
            4.0

            A must for Steampunk makers

            By ste5eu

            from Cabridgeshire, UK

            About Me Developer, Educator, Maker

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              Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

              After what felt to me like a slow start this book has been a great and absorbing read. As a maker myself who is also interested in Steampunk it's educated me on where Steampunk has come from and made me think about where it's going. It's also given me some great ideas and motivated me to get out there and meet more like minded individuals.

              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              How History Can Help Cure Our Souls

              By shawnday

              from Dublin, Ireland

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                Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

                Vintage Tomorrows by Brian David Johnson and James Carrott stems, according to the authors, from a passing discussion in a pub between a historian and a futurist. The outcome is an unexpected delight. A critical, deep and probing questioning of what makes steampunk tick. For the unfamiliar, steampunk is a counter-culture bubbling underneath our days-to-day lives and often simply characterised as neo-victorian science fiction. But, the premise of this book is that that is far too simple a definition and the authors chronicle their attempt to try to expose the deeper motivations behind the surface effect of fancy dress costumes, glistening brass gears and a fascination with clockwork ornamentation. The result is a deliciously readable, superbly crafted and constructed expose that demands that the reader engages and is open to self-reflection, but is rewarded with some far reaching realisations about how we perceive today's world and humanity's engagement with our own history. This is a book about how humanity engages with technology and the nature of the relationship is deep, fluid and individual.
                Normally I approach most of the books I review with a reviewer's perspective. That is, I tend to try to determine the author's objective and rapidly consider the structure and the methodology employed to meet the objective. I may not read the book with the normal attention to each word and phrase, but instead engaged selectively. When I chose to review Vintage Tomorrows I was motivated by a subtle fascination with steampunk. I don't participate, but I am aware. I sensed that this book might adopt an approach of chronicling the more physical manifestations of the phenomenon and I would be treated to some cool pictures and eye candy. I couldn't have been wrong - and I realised this quickly. This is a deeper think piece, there's limited eye-candy and a serious amount of brain food. It causes you to think and to be really drawn into reading the book deeply. I realised that I would not being completing this review quickly…I ended up savouring the prose and the objective and living with this one for a couple weeks. It gave me pause to think and that makes this a seriously exceptional book.
                I desperately want to share the authors' arguments and illustrations, but restrain myself. Why? This is a book to be savoured and if I were to distill it down to gross simplicity I would be doing a great disservice to the authors and to you a potential reader.
                This is not a short read and it does demand engagement from the reader. All I will say it is well worth it. The authors chronicle their own increasing engagement with many of the popular performers in the larger steampunk community - from authors, to organisers of events, to participants in iconic festivals such as Burning Man. They recount some of the absolutely clever ways in which they teased out their own understanding of it - without spoiling anything - is demonstrated by staging of multi-course dinner around primary questions for the invitees to consider - and then to let it take a life of its own is conceptually brilliant and superbly captured and recounted. I must find the short documentary - I have not been able to yet. The authors do an exceptional two hander of going off to different events or meetings on their own, yet finding a single voice.
                But, admittedly, the story arch and recounting meetings and events can start to get slightly predictable by the middle and that's when the author's (I can only assume quite skilfully and intentionally) pull you right back in by mixing it up. They foreshadowed the whole question of why Victorianism and Empire at numerous junctures during the early part of the book, but only teasingly. Then they ask the question - 'the elephant' in the room - Why glorify a time that seems rooted in today what we could only describe as morally questionable if not rooted in evil? This is the hinge point in a well constructed discussion…and now I want to read on.
                The authors sum it up with a rather pithy observation about steampunk and what it is engaging. In response to perception that it potentially glorifies something less than savoury, they state simply that 'Steampunk isn't just fun, it's smart, self-critical, inclusive and welcoming. Sounds like a wonderful model for society itself and really captures the essence of the surprisingly diverse examples explored in the wonderful journey that is this book. I recommend and commend with no reservation and can only wish that academic publishing and practitioners could take such a creative means to their studies and such skill in conveying their findings. This is one of the most 'fun' books I have read in quiet a while for all the reasons that the steampunk subculture is itself. Read this book!

                 
                4.0

                Steampunk Culture

                By Beekay

                from Walnut Creek CA

                Verified Reviewer

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                    Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

                    This is an intriguing narrative about the steampunk culture.
                    So what is steampunk? Basically, James Carrott, a cultural historian, says steampunk is playing with today's technology with tools from the past.
                    In Vintage Tomorrows, Intel's resident futurist Brian David Johnson joins Carrott in a globe-spanning journey to dig beyond definitions and into the heart of this growing subculture. Through interviews with experts from around the globe this book looks into steampunk's collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions and where appropriate powered by steam and driven by gears created by old-world craftsmen and what these mean in our age of disposable technology.
                    This is an intriguing look at this phenomenon and the interviews are very revealing although towards the end the point has been made and the questions all answered. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in the past and with a whimsical outlook on today's technical culture.

                     
                    5.0

                    Steampunk Journey

                    By teak

                    from Jyväskylä, Finland

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                      Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

                      This book is a dual journey of Steampunk. It is personal journeys of the authors and also the journey of the Steampunk into present culture. In the book the authors (a historian and a futurist) travel through steampunk and world while interview a number of prominent people in the steampunk genre.

                      While O'Reilly is in my mind a company publishing software and computing books, this book is neither. It is still very much connected to technology and future of technology.

                      The authors had noticed how steampunk has been a rising cultural trend and decided to start a book project 2010 on the subject. The project quickly turned into this book and a movie.

                      "What is steampunk?" was question presented many times in the book and among answers were aesthetics, genre in arts, chickens and teapots (according to the authors daughter), and counter-culture redefining the relationship between humans and technology.

                      To find answer in to this and other questions authors journeyed around cons, world and fiction. The interviews and discussions gave some answers and much of is was about technology and humanity. Steampunk wants technology to be fun and adventurous, not hermetic and dooming. Many other topics, like imperialism, gender equality, and racism were also covered.

                      The authors related part of steampunk into the current mainstream technology which is closed and sterile with user forbidden to modify it. The steampunk allows users to mess around with their technological gadgets. In this sense steampunk is a counter-culture against current times, like hippies in earlier time. The authors and many others believe that steampunk-culture is about to burst into the global consciousness and thus change the world.

                      I really loved the book and like all great books it gave a lots of answers, but provoked even more questions into my small mind. Is Jolla part of steampunk? Where I could buy steampunk styled goggles with prescription strengths? When can I afford (money and time vise) to travel to the Burning Man? Would The Neverwas Haul be there then? And others. One minor thing was that the pdf-version of the book is huge, 300+ MB, but the pictures were worth it.

                      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Great Journey in the Steampunk culture

                      By Fabio Alessandro Locati

                      from Milan, Italy

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                        Comments about oreilly Vintage Tomorrows:

                        This book initially shocked me. When I downloaded it, it was a 140 Mb so I thought it was full of drawings and comics. As soon as I opened the file I saw it was nothing I thought it would have been.

                        The book is mainly written (it can seem tautological but I think that's right to point it out) with a lot of photos. I think the reason of the "hugeness" of the file is given by the photos. Speaking of them, I think that some of them are really useful to understand the concepts that are being explained in the text, while others can be removed without removing any value from the book.Speaking of the authors, it's really interesting to spend a few words on their biography. James H. Carrott is really interested in history, while Brian David Johnson is a futurist at Intel. Two people with such a different background have been able to create a very high-level book.

                        I would strongly suggest this great book to anyone that is interested in understanding deeply the Steampunk culture. This reading can be perfect for both the person who wants to discover the Steampunk world for the first time, and to who has already a knowledge of this world and wants to improve it and have some new points to ponder.

                        Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Program

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