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The Steampunk User's Manual: An Illustrated Practical and Whimsical Guide to Creating Retro-futurist Dreams

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Steampunk, the retro-futuristic cultural movement, has become a substantial and permanent genre in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. A large part of its appeal is that, at its core, Steampunk is about doing it yourself: building on the past while also innovating and creating something original. VanderMeer’s latest book offers practical and inspirational guidance f ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
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Start your review of The Steampunk User's Manual: An Illustrated Practical and Whimsical Guide to Creating Retro-futurist Dreams
Donna
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway which didn't influence my review.

The Steampunk User's Manual is a well made, high quality book that is beautiful to look at, from cover to cover, with plenty of glossy photographs in between, highlighting the various components of the steampunk culture. It is also very informative, taking the reader on a grand tour of the imaginative world from which it came.

Before reading this book, I only knew of steampunk as a sub genre within fantasy that inspired ar
...more
Beth Cato
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this at the book's launch party at World Fantasy in Washington D.C.

As a steampunk author, I often have to explain what steampunk is to family or other folks. I wish this book was a bit more portable, because it would sure be nice to flip it open to any page and say, 'See this? Steampunk!' This is really a coffee table-sized volume, full color and packed with photographs and artwork. It's truly a feast for the eyes and the text is likewise illuminating.

The title might mislead some to think
...more
Nancy
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crafts, steampunk
This was a really interesting book to flip through, but again, I picked it up in the hopes that I would see something creative and simple that would inspire a teen program. It was a great book all about Steampunk and the history, how it is expressed in art, design, costume, architecture, etc. Plenty of great color pictures of professionally created pieces, but not a whole lot of actual DIY directions for the average Joe, like me. Hence, the 2 stars.

Some of the projects that I thought were awesom
...more
Xerxes Grant
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I thought this was a wonderful book but it was above my lexile so I only understood some of it. I love the topic of the book. It helped me understand the culture and what steampunk actually is. It mentions a lot of Steampunk artist and Authors in this book which is a good way to get more books to read. I also like how the book was set up. It was set up so if you wanted to only read about steampunk music or steampunk fashion you could do that.

The people who would enjoy this book the most would be
...more
Sarah Capps
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful artwork and illustrations are found in this book. The Steampunk User's Manual offers a sound overview of many of the different disciplines within steampunk, and is great for those new to the genre as well as the old hand. I thoroughly enjoyed paging through this, reading the hints and tips, and contemplating whether or not I could pull off the featured DIYs.

I received this book as part of a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.
Didem
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I always had a thing for slightly dark, neo-Victorian things, whimsical machines, retro-futurism, post-gothic art, black lace, and corsets. Turns out this is an artistic movement called steampunk, as I recently learned. Apparently, a lot of the stories I relished belong in the steampunk genre.

With this realization, I wanted to learn more about steampunk and read this book.

It was mainly about DIY steampunk art and design and I have absolutely no interest in creating similar things, but I still re
...more
Valorie
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This look at the world of steampunk is a great start for the uninitiated. This manual celebrates the aesthetic of steampunk and dives beneath it, examining the way the leaders of this subculture see it moving. Included inside are several how-tos and craft projects, including a beautiful rococopunk jacket and a moving steam-powered orrery. If you've ever been curious about this work, start with this collection of essays and thoughts by the leaders within steampunk.
Abigail
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Pretty pictures.
Matthew Kresal
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like The Steampunk Bible before it, an interesting look for novices and fans alike into this fascinating genre. Whereas that volume offered an overview of the works of the genre, this volume focuses on the fans and DIY aspects. As a result, readers' mileage with the book will likely vary greatly depending on where their interest lies. For example, I found the storytelling (i.e. novel and short stories) section of the book to be the most interesting as that is my creative field but other sections ...more
Jonathan
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk-read
Jeff VanderMeer, this time collaborating with Desirina Boskovich, presents another curious insight into the steampunk genre. Contributors new and old tell how the genre inspires them and their creative process. The book is divided into chapters covering different elements of steampunk, these cover art and making, design, writing and music. It’s all as fascinating as the book’s predecessor The Steampunk Bible. In fact this book is very much a fitting companion piece.
As an aspiring author I obvi
...more
A.J. Bauers
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: marked-research
This book provided a nice generalized overview on the way Steampunk is currently impacting our current society. Some of the interesting things this book introduced me to was the fake machines created by Jake von Slatt that were powered by the Aether and crystals. This prompted further research into these concepts and how they historically relate into the Steampunk concept. It also taught me there are certain overdone cliches in the Steampunk genre, including googles, gears and clockwork insects. ...more
Lisa Ahlstedt
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
For anyone who is interested in the Steampunk movement, this is an invaluable book. The authors have interviewed many artists who are active in many different areas, including music, art, design, storytelling and the book includes many beautiful photos of their work. The book is also very useful and inspirational for people who want to create their own works, with such topics as coming up with ideas, incorporating Steampunk into your own area of interest, and developing your skills. There is no ...more
Nicki Markus
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
The Steampunk User's Manual was an interesting read. It was not quite what I had imagined when I bought it (I think I need to check out VanderMeer's Steampunk Bible instead); however, I still found it enjoyable. This is a good overview of the different aspects of steampunk from clothing to writing to music. I found a few writers and musicians I intend to check out. The projects included were interesting, though some were rather involved. If you are entirely new to steampunk, you probably want to ...more
Kara

An excellent overview not just of the Steampunk culture but, more importantly, the people of the community, and the incessant push to include EVERYONE of all genders, nationalities, ethnicities, etc., and not be dicks like some other communities we could mention.

These are all awesome people and I LOVE their imagination - both of a cool retro-future world - but, more importantly, imagining a world that includes all of us. :-)
Karen
Jun 23, 2015 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: how-to, nonfiction
I was intrigued by the thesis in an early essay in the book that Steampunk is a reaction to the increasing sleekness of industrial design; gears and ornamentation to counteract the smooth plastic and glass devices we never have far from our reach in the modern world. I liked some of the descriptions of artistic process. I stopped reading, though, because I wasn't interested in the projects and don't really connect with the aesthetic.
Rosie Reast
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A truly inspiring book. I picked this book up because it had a section on writing Steampunk. While that section was good, the other sections on Steampunk art etc were wonderful. While reading this book I realized that I had more skills than I thought I did and should stop being scared and try making things.
I am now actively looking round for materials that can be used in creative projects. I have rediscovered a love of making things I'd buried long ago.
G.R.S. Hjelm
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book to just grab when the mood strikes, it's full of short, interesting articles on everything Steampunk. Writing, music, design, artworks, fashion, architecture - so many things that can get your own creative juices flowing!

I also really like the DIY tutorials that are included, the banjo looks awesome and I really like the jacket. Plus all those wonderful pictures are really inspiring!
Michelle
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The illustrations are amazing. This book gives some explanation of the whole "Steampunk" fashion, art, music, literature, etc. It also gives some DIY steampunk projects. I picked it up because I wanted to know more about this topic and it is a good resource for anyone wanting to know more about steampunk.
Rose
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lots of clever projects shown and ideas for many more. While probably for the experienced DIY person, it is still a fun read for anyone interested in this genre. Copiously and colourfully illustrated.
Jenna
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Entertaining and insightful when it comes to steampunk and trying to define what exactly it is. Unfortunately, most of the projects within this eye-catching guide are a bit too time consuming to hold as a program...
Andrew
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is actually a fairly half hearted user's guide with a fairly skimpy account of how to produce anything steampunk but, read as a second half to the steampunk Bible, it is a very well written and illustrated steampunk compendium.
James
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, diy, fiction
A fun, lightweight skim filled with fun pictures and illustrations. It amazes me how much steampunk art activity there is. I recommend borrowing this book from a library, it's not a keeper. The few projects in this book are very simple and nothing special.
Nicole
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-read-wins
This book is terrific! Not only is every chapter spectacular, but the illustrations and photos are amazing as well.
Alana
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
intersting, but better guides out there.
Voirrey
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016, steam-punk
To be honest I skipped bits of the actual writing here and there - but the photos are all wonderful.
Abraham Ray
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
It's a ok steampunk book
Maribel
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
the images were beautiful
Ingrid Sousa
rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2016
Yodamom
rated it really liked it
Dec 15, 2014
Skylar
rated it really liked it
Sep 12, 2019
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NYT bestselling writer Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received wide-spread critical acclaim and his prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translat ...more

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