Imagine a coffee-table style book of weapons and uniforms (I don’t have to imagine too hard, I recently reviewed a book on weapons). Now imagine an art book of steampunk paintings. And now … put the two together and you have this book.
The idea is really interesting. Author Philip Smith has created a strong back-story — a meteor shower in the mid-1800’s gave the world a supply of ‘hephaesteum,’ which propelled inventors into the age of steam and provided for a wide variety of weapons and useful devices. Enter art student Miles Vandercroft who traveled the world chronicling the weapons and uniforms of soldiers during this age of steam and those uniforms and weapons are displayed in this book. It’s a portfolio of uniforms and weaponry in an alternate-history, steampunk world.
As I say … pretty interesting. Now…if there were just some reason for it.
I have a really large collection of art books. From modern fantasy art collections to volumes on individual masters such as Rembrandt and Monet and Renoir and quite a bit in between. This book strikes me as something that wants to be shelved in with my art books since it’s mostly single page paintings of individuals, but at the same time, it’s trying to be something different.
Although there is a little description to go along with each painting, to identify the type of soldier, where s/he is from, and the kind of fighting they typically did, there isn’t any story here. The story is about the meteor and the deposits of hephaestium, but even that doesn’t give us too much. The pictures are organized by country and military division and there is a brief history of the working of the country and military. It is enough to tease, but not to actually give us much to operate from.
I would hope that this book will be used for a more expansive steampunk series of stories, but as it stands, while nice to look at it, it’s hardly worth the time and money.
Looking for a good book? Steampunk Soldiers has much going for it, but it doesn’t complete the journey and is simply a picture book of military uniforms and weapons set in an alternate, steampunk universe.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms & Weapons from the Age of Steam
author: Philip Smith
artist: Joseph A. McCullough
publisher: Osprey Publishing
hardcover, 156 pages