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Reading for 2009: Steampunk

 Sometimes, I take it into my head to get a really good handle on a topic/genre.  I often ask Little Willow for a custom reading list.  But this time, I’ve generated my own.

I am going to acquaint myself with the genre of Steampunk.  I’m so usually surrounded by people intimately familiar with this, at least as a cultural phenomenon, that I find it absurd when I have to explain it.  But I find it more refreshing than absurd, so in case you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a subgenre of speculative fiction (sci fi/fantasy) that deals with alternative futures based on an imagined past.  Basically, ask yourself what life would be like if the great classic Sci Fi of the Victorian era (Jules Verne, H. G. Wells) had been real.

Sound fun?  The name is a combination of Steam, the primary way of powering technology in such an imaginary world, with the affix -punk, taken from the genre of Cyberpunk.  Steampunk often has an anti-establishment sensibility, but with a more optimistic bent than Cyberpunk and other speculative genres.  This suits my personality perfectly, I think.

Additionally, there is a Steampunk aesthetic, generally Neo-Victorian with lots of gears and buckles, which really appeals to me.

Here’s my reading list:

Proto-Steampunk
Gormenghast Novels (esp Titus Alone), Mervyn Peake
Worlds of the Imperium, Keith Laumer
Queen Victoria’s Bomb, Ronald W. Clark 
A Nomad of the Time Streaks
, Michael Moorcock

Early Steampunk

The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers
Homunculus, James Blaylock
Infernal Devices, K W Jeter

More Recent Steampunk

The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore (Comic)
Steampunk, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer (Anthology)
Girl Genius, Studio Foglio (Comic)
A Series of  Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

There are a few magazines out there dealing with Steampunk, as well.  Online you can find Steampunk Magazine and The Gatehouse Gazette.  And on the more historical side of things, I’ve found the lovely webcomic Clockwork Game, all about the Turk – a chess-playing automaton which actually existed during the 18th and 19th centuries.
 

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