Google has launched a logo that is designed in Steampunk style, to celebrate the birthdate of Victorian-era Science Fiction writer, Jules Verne:
I have a particular affinity for all things Steampunk, so I love this logo treatment.
If you don’t know what “Steampunk” is, Wikipedia says it’s a sub-genre of Science Fiction, often executed as a type of “alternate history” where steam engines stayed as the dominant basis of technology, perhaps even advancing further down vestigial arms of history-that-never-was.
One part of my family was very closely involved in steam engines — I’ve got photos of my grandfather when he was five in a steam-driven machine shop, and he was friends with a Mississippi steamboat captain.
But, my attraction for Steampunk is more on the literary and stylistic fronts. Those who know me are aware that my favorite living author is James P. Blaylock, an author of fantasy fiction. Blaylock, and his longtime friend and sometimes collaborator, Tim Powers, are considered the founders of the Steampunk fiction movement. Their friend and author, K.W. Jeter, coined the “Steampunk” moniker to describe their retro, Victorian novels where steam-powered technology seemed to’ve developed further along an evolutionary line than what happened in real-world history (Jeter also wrote a novel in Steampunk style, too). I’m such a fan of their works that I have been working upon an authorized, soon-to-be-completed Comprehensive Dual Bibliography of James P. Blaylock & Tim Powers which includes some short writing from each of the authors.
Steampunk is more than just a literary subgenre of Sci-Fi, however — it has also become a fashion style, a decorative movement, and a musical genre. You may have seen computers which have been modded into looking like antiques, with copper fittings and mechanical gears and such. Steampunk clothing and music are closely related to Goth Rock and NeoVictorian fashion movements as well.
Google’s Steampunk logo is interactive, when the lever is clicked and moved, the “view” through the Google porthole letters moves accordingly. Check out this video made by Barry Schwartz who also wrote a mention about it on Search Engine Land:
If you’re interested in reading some Steampunk literature, I’d recommend one of the following “classics”:
- The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
- Homunculus by James P. Blaylock
- Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
- The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
If you’re interested in listening to some Steampunk music, I recommend Abney Park.