“In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile.”
– Isaac Asimov, Robot Visions
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Personally, I do not know any person who is not absolutely head over heels in love with steampunk. I mean, how could you not be? The use of what we now view as rudimentary industrial era technology to achieve things that are, many times, beyond our actual modern technologies. Just the premise alone is enough to make you daydream of a bathysphere journey to the bottom of the ocean, on the hunt for the elusive giant squid… or some other weird and wonderful activity set against a Victorian backdrop.
The term “steampunk” was coined relatively recently, sometime during the 80’s, by K.W. Jeter. He used the term to describe similar works of his, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock, each of the novels in question having stories taking place during the 19th century.
Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I’d appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it’s a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in “the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate” was writing in the “gonzo-historical manner” first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering.
Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like ‘steam-punks’, perhaps.
After the term had been coined, it began to be used retroactively to describe other famous works of speculative fiction, such as the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. These works, together with other brilliant novels such as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Percival Leigh’s little-known short story The Aerial Burglar represent the literary forefathers of steampunk.
Although Jeter was the first one to think of a term for these particular types of fantasy stories, him, Blaylock and Powers were far from being the first (even among their contemporaries) to actually create these stories. Steam-based technologies and alternative histories have been favorites of authors all throughout the 20th century, and there are lots of worlds to explore.
In fact, the first time “steampunk” was used in the actual title was as recent as 1995, when Paul Di Filippo wrote his Steampunk Trilogy, which consists of three short novels, called Victoria, Hottentots, and Walt and Emily. In order, the three books are about the replacement of Queen Victoria with a human/newt clone, the invasion of Massachusetts by eldritch horrors, and a love affair between Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.
Of course, steampunk just would not be steampunk without the crazy esthetics. The cogs, the bronze, the tubes, the bolts… everything that creates a sci-fi yet distinctly 19th-century look and feel to it. Add emerging socialism and a slowly decaying aristocracy, and you have got yourself the beginnings of a period science fiction piece.
We have taken a look at steampunk before, and you can check that out as well. But in today’s article, I will be showing you some of Russian metal sculptor Igor Verniy‘s amazing steampunk sculptures.
1. Dove of Peace
I kick off this list with Igor’s best-known work, the Dove of Peace. Like most of his sculptures, this one has lots of movable parts, making it (and them) pretty much action figures. The dove looks absolutely incredible, and it gets me thinking of The Long War, which is a catastrophic war in the book I am currently reading, The Year of Rice and Salt.
Ladybugs are cute critters, and this one is no exception. Even though it looks a bit beat up (which I think really adds to the overall “steampunkness” of it all), it still makes me go “awwww”, and the cogs and stuff hidden behind the wings are tremendously cool.
Like the Ladybug, but less cute more awesome, Bug is a plain black sculpture and definitely feels like a prop to a movie that is yet to be made. I can see this thing crawling around the bowels of a huge factory, cleaning up useless organic material like leftovers or severed hands from industrial accidents.
It is probably safe to assume that Igor really likes insects, and the truth is that they are excellent subjects for creating movable sculptures. Ants especially, as they really do seem like they are several separate pieces, held together by flexible joints.
5. Endoskeleton Bust
After all those insects, it is time I show you something really creepy. The Endoskeleton Bust looks like some mad scientists experiment in trying to make a weird Victorian man-machine hybrid. It is all kinds of cool, and I love the fact that the thing is missing its jaw.
6. Octopus Mini
Bigger is not always better, and that is plain to see in this cute as hell miniature sculpture of a steampunk octopus. Look at those cute lil’ tentacles gripping on tightly to that surgical knife! All I want to do is give it a biiiig hug.
Now, the bat is crazy creepy; I will admit. I usually find them cute as well, but Igor went more for the vampire look, rather than the flying mouse.
Do you people remember Top Cat? Well, I do, and I am so very upset that there is not any steampunk reboot of it.
9. Bellied Fish
If a bloated fish has an unfortunate encounter with a depth-charge in an alternate Victorian-era world, this what steam-powered medical technology can do for the poor thing.
10. Igor Verniy’s Heart
And in closing, I give you the artist’s awesome prosthetic heart.
I hope you enjoyed this list of Igor’s awesome metal sculptures. If you want to see more of his works, be sure to check out his Facebook age. Also, don’t forget to scroll down to the comment section, and leave any thoughts you might have on Igor’s works, my article, or even steampunk, in general.