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Aug. 20, 2008, 1:58am

So all of the steampunk i've ever encountered has been on accident, and mostly movies. It's a genre I'm really interested in exploring, but I don't know where to start.

Recommendations (books, movies, anime...whatever...)?

Aug. 20, 2008, 2:52am

Buy this book.

Steampunk by Anne VanderMeer (and spousal unit).

Then you won't know where to stop. :)

Aug. 20, 2008, 3:36am

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling is a great steampunk novel.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 20, 2008, 8:47am

I just picked up a copy of Steampunk this weekend. There's a pretty good list of steampunk essentials in the intro.

I also just recently finished Jay Lake's Mainspring, which was pretty good but more clock than steam.

Oh, and wikipedia's got a pretty complete list:

Aug. 20, 2008, 1:36pm

The list at wikipedia is stretching the point a bit though. Several of the books on the list aren't what I'd call steampunk at all. But since there is no definition on the page, it may be difficult to discuss whether a book falls within the steampunk genre.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman fx. has no steampunk elements, if by steampunk you understand an anachronistic technology in a somewhat historical setting. It is set in a Victorian London where Dracula married Queen Victoria, and it is a great set piece, but there is no technology to make it steampunk.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 20, 2008, 2:11pm

Well, to be fair to wikipedia, they do have a definition on their page discussing steampunk. Here it is:

Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.

It's not a great definition in that it wouldn't include works like Perdido Street Station, etc. But then they don't strictly follow the definition in the list of steampunk works. In spite of the flaws, though, I think one could use the list as a relatively good jumping off point.

Jan. 4, 2009, 3:10pm

#4 - Great link, Doc!

Jan. 4, 2009, 3:12pm

Well, my TBR pile/list is even more out of control than before.

The list of movies at the link provided by drneutron is awesome. Some of my favorites are there.

Jan. 4, 2009, 3:23pm

Yeah, mine too! Next payday I'll definitely be picking up a tome or two!

Jan. 4, 2009, 3:39pm

SteamPod - short story podcast

Jan. 4, 2009, 5:15pm

This morning I finished Ian MacLeod's The Light Ages. I reviewed it so you can make your own decisions. It is Steampunk but is it worth reading? Check out the descriptions. I was more exited when I purchased it then when I finished reading it.

Jan. 6, 2009, 1:54am

I did enjoy The Difference Engine very much, and it was the first officially 'steampunk' piece I ever read. In fact, I wasn't even much inclined to read anything 'sci-fi' before that, but Difference Engine struck me as a really interesting novel. Loved the characters and the historical details of the setting.

PS, if anyone cares to try their hand at creating some homemade steampunk, check out the story 'Constantinople Gyrosteambike Company' on the writing website One Million Monkeys Typing... :)

Jan. 19, 2009, 8:38pm

Jake von Slatt's workshop, plus some creations, now appear in a Make TV episode, viewable here. Ten minutes, about.

Jan. 22, 2009, 5:11pm

I just got The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives and I'm enjoying it immensely. The Light Ages is another one I liked a lot, but it was very atmospheric and serious, whereas the St. Ives book doesn't take itself seriously, and is definitely more absurd.

Apr. 18, 2009, 9:01am

(Yea, yea, another thread revival. Sorry.)

I recently finished The Affinity Bridge, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I't definitly steampunk, and with a occult/supernatural twist to boot, but it never feels as if it heads of into fantasy teritory, as many of these books seem to do, at least in my opinion. That it has one of the most refreshing and intriguing male/female protagonist team dynamic in quite a while doesn't hur either. Sequel will be out this summer, and I'll definitly keep an eye out for it.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 18, 2009, 6:52pm

There was a similar thread to this one last year - I'd recommend the three Oswald Bastable books by Michael Moorcock - The Warlord of the Air is the first and one of my favorites, followed by The Land Leviathan and then The Steel Tzar.

I'm also very fond of Phillip Pulman's His Dark Materials trilogy - the first book was the basis for the movie The Golden Compass. It's odd that the the three books and spinoff aren't on that Wikipedia page.

Sept. 2, 2009, 1:10am


A couple of steampunk series' that haven't been brought up here:

- Larklight by Philip Reeve - A junior steampunk series that captures a wonderfully whimsical Victorian sentiment. Rolllicking good fun!
- Mortal Engines also by Philip Reeve - Young Adult series based on steam-powered city-sized vehicles.

And a couple of Australian steampunks, for those who can get a hold of them
- The Laws of Magic, starting with Blaze of Glory, by Michael Pryor - A wonderful steam-magic series. Aubrey Fitzwilliam, son of the Prime Minister, is embarking on his studies of the laws of magic in a steam & magic powered alternate Europe.
- World Shaker by Richard Harland - A slave girl escapes the coal engine recesses of the hulking Worldshaker and runs into the Captain's grandson, changing everybody's world. A great young adult story by one of Australia's best speculative fiction authors.

Sept. 2, 2009, 1:33am

We need some ideas for Steampunk costumes that we can make on the cheap... So if there are books that are good reads where the characters could be translated into inexpensive costumes, those recommendations would help. Wife and I have a ball right after Halloween with a Steampunk theme...

Sept. 2, 2009, 8:14am

boingboing notes that Scott Westerfeld's upcoming (October) YA novel Leviathan is steampunk.

Okt. 22, 2009, 3:21pm

The recently released Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest, is steampunk, and will be part of a trilogy called, The Clockwork Century. It looks fantastic, but I haven't read it yet.

There are some great graphic novels/comics that feature steampunk, too.
Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series is nothing like movie and features a very dark storyline.
The Hollow Grounds, by Luc Shuiten is beautifully illustrated and features many odd stories.
and Daisy Kutter: The Last Train is a fun adventure through a robot-laden wild west.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 22, 2009, 6:09pm

I'm diving into steampunk after reading New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite books. So I added the following to the TBR pile;

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
Court of Air by Stephen Hunt (he has a few more out,too, that I don't own yet)
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters
Soulless by Gail Carriger

I haven't read any of these yet so any thoughts would be welcomed.

P.S. Steampunk magazine ( is amazing. I have all the issues available.

Okt. 27, 2009, 11:34pm

At the group's recommendation, I just picked up The Affinity Bridge by George Mann.

Also, got China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. (Is this truly steampunk?)

Okt. 28, 2009, 7:26am


Well, Perdido Street Station has steam and airships, and New Crobuzon has a certain Victorian feel, but I don't think Mieville was consciously aiming at steampunk as a genre. It is a terrific novel; Mieville is among the best fantasists now writing.

Okt. 29, 2009, 5:21pm

22) I'd be interested to see what you think of George Mann's novel. I picked it up as a result of joining this group and...well, I posted a review. :)

Okt. 30, 2009, 12:27am

Link to the Steamthread in The Green Dragon.

Okt. 30, 2009, 12:29am

I've read 3/4 of The Affinity Bridge. Very average so far.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 30, 2009, 5:43am

Started The Affinity Bridge a few days ago. Having put it down after the first 4 chapters I find very little inclination to pick it up again.
I read The Shattered Teacup at the publisher site, and thought its shortcomings were due to the short story format, but so far The Affinity Bridge suffers from the same 'wooden' characterization.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 30, 2009, 10:29am

#26/27 I finished it but I never really liked the The Affinity Bridge. I remember it just feeling flat. I agree about the wooden characters but I also think the plotting was pretty poor too. In fact the only thing I really liked was the cover :)

I am enjoying the Girl Genius Volume 1 Online comic, its not really steampunk but it does have many mad clockwork contraptions and of course airships, plus it's just funny.

Edited: missing word!

Okt. 30, 2009, 10:17am

Yeah, I'll give them the cover.

The Shattered Teacup I liked a bit more, but was just approaching above average.

Mann's story at Apex, 'The Nature Of Blood' is considerably superior. Not related, though.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 20, 2009, 4:58pm

Huh. I feel kind of bad about recommending the Affinity Bridge now. I friend of mine had similar opinions as people here after reading it...

I don't know, I honestly really liked it, it felt fresh and not as contrived as some of the SP out there is, in my opinion.

I picked up the sequel The Osiris Ritual a while back and didn't, surprisingly, care for it at all. It felt flat and unimaginative compared with the first one, and the freshness of the gender roles that really got me hooked was nowhere to be seen. So if you didn't like the first one you probably shouldn't go any further. I can give you that at least. I'll probably pick up the third one when it comes out, however. I haven't given up totally on Mann yet.

Girl Genius is described by its authors as a "Gaslight Romance", but it's rather steampunky - At least it has all the trappings of steampunk, although some of it might be rather on the light side for some readers. Above all it's about Mad Science and swashbuckling adventure. It's rather epic in scope, and the technology is wonderfully absurd at times (death rays!).

Nov. 11, 2009, 9:50pm

Just finished Soulless the Parasol by Gail Carriger. I liked it although I should warn it feels aimed at women. A romance develops for the female protagonist. The next book in the series comes out in January.

And I'm half way through Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (yeah for Seattle authors!) and it is simply amazing.

Nov. 12, 2009, 7:08am

oo I have Boneshaker by Cherie Priest on my tbr. Glad to hear you are enjoying it.

#30 I think the Affinity Bridge causes some very mixed reactions so I wouldn't worry about it, its all personal recommendation after all ;)

Nov. 20, 2009, 6:32am

Like 21) I have to recommend the books by Stephen Hunt. I really enjoy all three of them, The court of the air, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves and The Rise of the Iron Moon.

Dez. 28, 2009, 11:00am

Have any of you read the Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist - I think they're fabulous and most definitely steampunk by the criteria you outline above.

Jan. 6, 2010, 12:41pm

#34 I read the first and I would certainly recommend it, the plots is great and the characters truly memorable! I did find it bit long and disjointed (switching between characters).

Bearbeitet: Apr. 8, 2010, 9:28am

Loved the first two Glass Books, hope there will be a third before long. Wish I'd picked up the first volume in its part-work format. The winding, episodic plots give it a perfect nineteenth-century feel.

I must admit that I'm only a quarter of a way through The Twentieth Century (Early Classics of Science Fiction) by Albert Robida. It's a nineteenth century vision of the future; and amiable, though very dated satire, but the illustrations make the book - just fantastic and there are lots of them. Plenty of zeppelins, fantastic contraptions and lots of fabulous ladies dressed in a style that could only be described as George Melies futurism.

Finally, I can definitely second Will's recommendation of the Mortal Engines quartet (Hungry City Chronicles in the US) by Philip Reeve This may have been marketed for the juvenile audience (like Phillip Pullman), but has to be one of the best Steampunk epics I've read - Zeppelins, land-leviathan cities and reanimated cyborgs. Tremendous energy, wonderful characters and an utterly gripping story.

Aug. 20, 2010, 5:01pm

#36 - Honestly, I would totally agree if it wasn't for the hairy-nosed wombats.

Aug. 21, 2010, 12:42pm

Don't listen to those wombats. What do they know about books anyway?

Aug. 27, 2010, 9:41pm


Sept. 24, 2010, 11:28am

Hey jaded laddies and gentlewomen all...October 2010 to October 2011 has been declared The Steampunk Challenge! An entire year of steampunk reading! Go look at SteamPunk Magazine for details.

Okt. 19, 2010, 6:47am

In reference to several discussions above:

the Gail Carriger series certainly seems aimed at the paranormal romance market, but I suspect transcends it because of the wit and creativity.

Girl Genius seems, to me, to be very steampunk. Sedia's The Alchemy of Stone, otoh, though well worth reading, *doesn't* strike me as particularly steampunk - ymmv.

Another recommendation for China Mieville, especially Perdido Street Station and the Scar. While some of his stuff is steampunk-ish rather than perhaps actually steampunk, it's all brilliant and worth the read.

Jan. 14, 2011, 5:57am

I discovered steampunk last year and set out to explore as much of the genre as I possibly could. The books that I have read so far:

in no particular order
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest
The windup girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
Flora Segunda, Wilce
The glassbooks of the dreameaters, Dahlquist
The manual of detection, Berry
The somnabulist, Barnes
The court of air, Hunt
Perdido street station, Mieville
The city and the city, Mieville
Soulless, Carriger

Each and every title are very different from each other, and some titles may prove debatable in whether or not they could be included as steampunk. I've really enjoyed most of these titles and plan to continue exploring this genre further this year. I've already added some titles to my list from the above posts, so thanks! :)

Standouts were The windup girl and Mieville. Enjoyed the writing in The somnambulist, couldn't get into The court of air and loved Soulless for it's light hearted approach. I agree with the poster that it is aimed more at women, and it's definitely angled towards chicklit.

Jan. 14, 2011, 6:11am

#30 Jannes
Don't feel bad about liking a book that others didn't. I find myself in the position many times. We are all different and all like different things. (I can't abide any of James Joyce's work, yet the literary establishment tells me his work is sheer genius. Hmmm!)

As it happened, I wasn't over the moon about The Affinity Bridge but I loved The Difference Engine.

Jan. 14, 2011, 9:39am

I too liked The Difference Engine quite a bit, but then again I've liked everything by Gibson or Sterling that I've read...

Jan. 24, 2011, 8:24am

I'm not exactly recommending this, but...Steampunk Palin.

via a post of 1-23-2011 (no post link).

Bearbeitet: Jan. 26, 2011, 6:26pm

#43 pgmcc
Thanks. I know that tastes will always be different, I just hate to see readers disappointed. "To each his own" is a creed to live by.

Also, there's a Girl Genius Novel out: "Agatha H. and the Airship City"! I haven't picked it up yet, but will soon, as the comic is pure genius.

Jan. 27, 2011, 6:28am

#46 Jannes

Girl Genius looks like a bit of fun. The "breaking the laws of science" piece will be interesting for me with two physicists living in the house.

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