Ray guns, goggles, and giant mechanical creations fill the pages of the beautiful, old-meets-new Steampunk Bible
Buster Crabe's "Flash Gordon" was the coolest thing ever when I was a kid. It was kitsch when I was older. But guess what? It is cool again. Today whole bunches of people are fascinated with and inspired by fake visions of the future that retrofit 19th- and early-20th-century props to appear plausibly, if comically, futuristic.
Back in my youth, grafting on a swooping fin here and a ray there was always a grand way to make something look like it is from a century or two into the future. H.G. Wells's pseudo-science novel The Time Machine triggered many illustrators and filmmakers to invent visual languages that could illustrate the next century, the 21st. Artists and designers are perpetually obsessed with screwball prognostication.
This obsession now has a hip new/old name: Steampunk, which is a fractured look back at what might have been if only.... This rubric also purports to be a new movement of nostalgia-buffs who, in the argot of today, mash up the old and current into some picturesque hybrid form. And now this movement also has a bible: The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff Vandermeer and S.J. Chambers, which chronicles the movement's past and future history. The book has a hybrid-retro look that combines Victorian graphic esoterica and computer fontography.