The Portland author and illustrator will attend this weekend's Steamcon gathering to discuss and show images from Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel (Abrams, $24.95), a delightful fake history book co-authored with his wife, Anina Bennett. Designed something like a schoolkids' history text, the book comprises historical photos and news accounts, contemporary snapshot essays, maps and mechanical diagrams--all of them verifiably fake. We are told that a Chicago inventor, determined to prevent war and alleviate poverty, created the first robot--powered by a fuel cell--in 1893, when it made its debut at the Chicago World's Fair. From then until WWI, when the machine disappeared in combat, it was a celebrity and world traveler, mingling Zelig-like with Teddy Roosevelt, T.E. Lawrence, Pancho Villa, and other leading figures of its day. It's the kind of thing that would've made junior high history class much less boring. And today, Boilerplate would be a helluva Halloween costume. (See for exact schedule.) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Oct. 23; Sat., Oct. 24; Sun., Oct. 25, 2009

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