Steampunk, a term coined circa 1987, refers to a genre of fiction that centers around the zeitgeist of Victorian England or 19th century’s steam-powered environment. There are rules. For example, you are not supposed to include references to items built after the 1930s and the general ambiance is dingy, gritty and dirty.
See the Wiki article for lots of examples of what you can or cannot use. Wikipedia also gives examples of famous steampunk writers such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and Mary Shelley. A contemporary example of the fantasy genre is The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo.
I like to dabble in steampunk when I’m not feeling very creative as it gives me license to come up with some whacked storylines, usually with the main character in authentic aviator jackets and goggles. Why not?
SF Signal, a Hugo award-winning fanzine, compiles a list each month of all the science fiction, fantasy, and horror (and related) books coming out. The result is a great resource for readers, and their efforts are appreciated by fans far and wide. Each month, I go through their list and pull out the Steampunk(ish) ones to list here. But definitely take a look at the full list of books for August as well.
1. The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1 by Rob Duncan, Angry Robot, August 26
2. Rod Espinoza’s Fables, Antarctic Press, August 19
3. The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories edited by Michael Sims, Pyr, July 8
4. Coloring With Your Octopus: A Coloring Book For Domesticated Cephalopods by Brian Kesinger, Baby Tattoo Books, August 15
5. Fragile Destiny by Suzanne Lazear, Flux, August 8
6. Evernight by Kristen Callihan, Forever, August 26
7. Agatha H. and the Voice in the Castle by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Night Shade Books, September 2
8. The Ripper Affair (Bannon and Clare) by Lilith Saintcrow, Orbit, August 19
9. The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy by Jacopo Della Quercia, St. Martin’s Griffin, August 5
10. The League of Seven by Alan Gratz, Starscape, August 19
11. The Clockwork Sky, Volume Two by Madeleine Rosca, Tor Books, August 19
12. The City of Fear (Battles of Ben Kingdom, Book 3) by Andrew Beasley, Usborne Publishing Ltd, August 1
Valentine Idea: Free Steampunk Ebook
It’s been two years, but we still think our little ebook, A Steampunk Valentine, makes a fine St. Valentine’s Day present. With forty-one short shorts and poems, there is bound to be something to catch the fancy of your Steampunk sweetheart. And, even better, it is free!
The book is available from Smashwords for Kindle, Nook, and other ebook readers. Grab a copy and give it a read. And give it a review on Goodreads if you have a chance so that others can find it, too.
Ay-leen the Peacemaker on “Re-Racing Steampunk”
Diana Pho, aka Ay-leen the Peacemaker, friend of the site and editor of Beyond Victoriana, spoke recently at Roger Williams University where she gave a lecture on “Re-Racing Steampunk: Race, Memory & Retrofuturism”.
If you have concerns about Steampunk’s glorification of the past, and you should, the lecture is a must watch. As always, Diana’s words are thought-provoking and insightful.
You can read her post about the experience on her blog or just watch the video here. I’m sure she’d appreciate hearing what people think, so please post any comments on her blog.