Who says a steampunk book has to be a traditional novel? With Boilerplate, we find a very different kind of book, a seemingly nonfiction account of a 19th century robot and its role in historical events. In this case, different is a very good thing. I can’t describe it better than the official write-up:

Meet Boilerplate, the world’s first robot soldier—not in a present-day military lab or a science-fiction movie, but in the past, during one of the most fascinating periods of U.S. history. Designed by Professor Archibald Campion in 1893 as a prototype, for the self-proclaimed purpose of “preventing the deaths of men in the conflicts of nations,” Boilerplate charged into combat alongside such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia. Campion and his robot also circled the planet with the U.S. Navy, trekked to the South Pole, made silent movies, and hobnobbed with the likes of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla.

You say you’ve never heard of Boilerplate before? That’s because this book is the fanciful creation of a husbandand-wife team who have richly imagined these characters and inserted them into accurate retellings of history. This full-color chronicle is profusely illustrated with graphics mimicking period style, including photos, paintings, posters, cartoons, maps, and even stereoscope cards. Part Jules Verne and part Zelig, it’s a great volume for a broad range of fans of science fiction, history, and robots.

Other Media

The story of Boilerplate started on the official website well before it became a book.

And, if J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot have their way, we will even get to see Boilerplate on the big screen.


As usual, if you’ve read it or reviewed it, leave a comment or a link.