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Ten Steampunk Novels You Ought To Read

The Difference EngineImage via WikipediaHow do you encapsulate a genre in ten books? Well you can’t really. So let me admit from the outset that this list of ten books is quite arbitrary and the number has more to do with the fact that I don’t want to spend the next two weeks writing this post. But for all that, the books I’m about to list are well worth reading and fine examples of the Steampunk sub-genre.

What Is Steampunk?

Like science fiction itself, the precise definition of Steampunk is a little vague. There are a number of common elements several of which would be: a 19th century Victorian setting; Steam power; science fiction or fantasy elements; alternate history; dirigibles and analog computers.

Steampunk fiction tends to focus on Victorian-er technology including steam engines, clockwork devices and difference engines, but the genre is no longer exclusive to the Victorian era.

The coining of the name steampunk is credited to author K. W. Jeter who was apparently trying to describe the sort of writing that he, Tim Powers and Bames Blaylock were writing in the 80s.

Ten Steampunk Novels

  • The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
    The two biggest names in Cyberpunk brought a lot of attention to the then fledgling sub-genre.
  • The Age of Unreason by J. Gregory Keyes (a series of four novels)
  • The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
    Powers was one of the first authors to write steampunk, his work is a defining component of the genre.
  • A Nomad of the Time Streams by Michael Moorcock (a series of three novels)
  • The Peshawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling
  • Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy from Philip Pullman
    Not a traditional Steampunk since it is set initially in another world, but it uses many of the trappings.
  • Morlock Night by K. W. Jeter (a sequel to Wells’ The Time Machine)
    Perhaps the first true example of a Steampunk novel.
  • The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
  • Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
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Eoghann Irving is amongst other things the creator and Editor of Solar Flare. He has a life long interest in all forms of science fiction and fantasy and a pressing need to share this interest with anyone who will listen. Find out more at his personal website

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