The term steampunk was coined in the late 80’s by author K.W. Jeter in a letter to Locus Magazine. “Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like ‘steam-punks’, perhaps.” With more steampunk stories becoming mainstream and movies being created with similar themes it seems like this is going to be the next big thing in the science fiction world!
But what is “steampunk” really? The genre usually consists of Victorian era alternative fashion, steam powered machinery, and magic intermingling with science! Steampunk stories almost always have an adventure driven plot with quirky and interesting main characters to help move the plot. Some of these traits can be found in early works such as H.G. Wells’ Time Machine and Edward Ellis’ The Steam Man of the Prairies.
Want to continue exploring the exciting world of steampunk? Here are some great reads to get you started!
Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices Series) by Cassandra Clare
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…
The Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles) by Philip Reeve
London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon, London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage–and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.
Leviathan (Leviathan Series) by Scott Westerfeld
It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman
Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.
Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century Series) by Cherie Priest
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. After the devastating failure of the machine sixteen years later, a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires) by Jim Butcher
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm, who commands the merchant ship, Predator is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. During this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come.