Secret bible of the paleo-steampunks

Secret bible of the paleo-steampunks: Mayhew’s “London Labour and the London Poor”
Posted by Cory Doctorow, April 14, 2009 7:08 AM | permalink

On Sunday, I was on a panel about steampunk at the Eastercon in Bradford with Tim Powers, one of the original creators of steampunk literature (see his Anubis Gate). Halfway through, Powers mentioned
casually that he came to write a science-fictional book influenced by Victorian England after reading, London Labour and the London Poor, a classic text by Henry Mayhew. Powers said that the book was KW Jeter’s (Jeter coined the term “steampunk”) and that it was passed around to both Powers and James Blaylock, three friends whose works were, arguably, the first steampunk novels ever written.

Powers said words to the effect of, “After reading this book, I realized that I had a whole novel’s worth of research right there.” It struck me that I’d never heard this story before, and that here, in this book, there was an important origin story about one of the major ways that an entire genre of literature, making, film and comics came into being….

Mayhew, Henry. London Labour and the London Poor (1861),,9780140432411,00.html?London_Labour_and_the_London_Poor_Henry_Mayhew

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