Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

June Books 14) The Steampunk Bible, by Jeff VanderMeer with S.J. Chambers et al.

This is perhaps the single most beautiful book in the Hugo Voter Packet, with lavish illustrations of the very visual subculture which it describes. I must admit it also turned around my own opinion on steampunk - I had a lot of sympathy with Marigold's father on Questionable Content, but VanderMeer and his fellow contributors have convinced me that there is an interesting, potentially subversive and liberating aesthetic and literary movement out there, whose roots are broader than I had appreciated and whose aspects extend further than I had realised. I will give it a good place on my Hugo ballot.

Unfortunately the experience of reading the PDF on a computer screen is rather trying. The lovely illustrations break up the text in a way which might be rather pleasant in a dead tree edition but makes the electronic version difficult to follow. To give two examples: a double-page picture spread about balloons on pages 22-23 interrupts - in mid-word - a two-page feature on Edgar Allan Poe on pages 21 and 24, which itself interrupts in mid-sentence the second chapter, the reader being expected to follow the chain of thought directly from page 20 to page 25. Later on, a sentence started on page 134 finishes on page 143, interrupted by five pages of (admittedly gorgeous) photographs and a three-page feature on steampunk fashion. This really isn't an e-reader friendly text, and I fear that it will not do as well as perhaps it deserves if voters are deterred from ploughing through it.
Tags: bookblog 2012, hugos 2012, writer: jeff vandermeer
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