PDX event for "Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology"

Hey, Portlandians! Brian David Johnson and James H Carrott are doing a talk and signing for their new book, Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology, a fascinating look at the historical significance of steampunk, and an exploration of what the popularity of steampunk today's means about tomorrow's technology, at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell's on March 25 at 7PM.

Steampunk, a mashup in its own right, has gone mainstream, with music videos from the likes of Nicki Minaj; America’s Next Top Model photo shoots; and Prada’s Fall/Winter menswear collection featuring haute couture, steampunk style. Some steampunk fans revile this celebrity. But James H. Carrott, co-author of Vintage Tomorrows, says that’s just how cultural change happens. “Things get appropriated; they affect the culture in some way or another, and the people who are at the heart of trying to make that change move onto the next key idea.”

So what is steampunk, exactly, and why should we care? Carrott, a cultural historian, says “steampunk is playing with the past.” The world that steampunk envisions is a mad-inventor’s collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions, powered by steam and driven by gears. It’s a whole new past; one that has a lot to say about the futures we want to see.

In Vintage Tomorrows, Intel’s resident futurist Brian David Johnson (@IntelFuturist) joins Carrott (@CultHistorian) in a globe-spanning journey to dig beyond definitions and into the heart of this growing subculture. Through interviews with experts such as Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and James Gleick, this book looks into steampunk’s vision of old-world craftsmen making beautiful hand-tooled gadgets, and what it means for our age of disposable technology.

Vintage Tomorrows Book Signing at Powell’s Books Cedar Hills Crossing


  1. Birth and death of fashion culture is explored in Scott Westerfeld’s fiction “So Yesterday” (Not steampunk). 

  2. I’ve been curious about what we will call “Steampunk” next. A long time ago, it was leading-edge to be in science fiction, but that label became uncool and unsellable. Dystopian, everyone’s already over-saturated there. Speculative fiction, same thing. So what happens to Steampunk? Full circle back to what it is, Science Fiction? If bell bottoms can make a comeback, so can SF.

  3. Why does everyone always talk at the Powell’s that is not in PDX proper?  The one downtown has a perfectly good speaking area with a podium.  A PODIUM. More than can be said for Beavertronic.

    1. They do have a podium. It’s up to the author whether or not they want to use it. Many prefer a table. I know this because I’ve gone to many events at both locations.
      The Powell’s in Beaverton has a larger event space (or can at least open up for standing room only), if I remember correctly, and the occupancy ratingis higher (I was turned away from an event in PDX because too many people showed up). Maybe that’s changed? 
      Plus, there is a HUGE sci-fi fanbase out that way that way.

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