Wednesday, February 19, 2014


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A question was asked on my agent's email loop, one that I'd also asked a young member of our local writer's group recently. What is Steampunk?

Wikipedia defines steampunk as "a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialised Western civilisation during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Vern, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Schott Westerfield, Stephen Hunt and China Mieville."
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The first thing that came to my mind was Will Smith's Wild Wild West. That half guy in the steam powered wheel chair really creeped me out.

There are some examples of  Steam Punk short stories here:
Steampunk Short Stories. Can't vouch for the content, although some of them look interesting.

 I like what Kathleen Y'Barbo said in her article on the ACFW Blog: "Unlike traditional steampunk, which sometimes introduces an alternate reality or culture in which people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives, I prefer my stories to have a slightly futuristic flair while maintaining the viability of the machines the pair invent. In order to keep the inventions in the realm of possibility, I combed the files of the United States Patent Office to determine which inventions were patented within a few years of my story taking place. In that way, I could allow for my heroes to have a variation on an idea that eventually becomes reality." Here's the entire article: A Dash of Steampunk

 We have a series in our library by Scott Westerfield and Keith Thompson called the Leviathan Trilogy. It is very popular with our young adult and adult patrons. There are Facebook pages and Pinterest boards dedicated to Steampunk. I find Steampunk fashion interesting - a combination of Victorian styles and well, hardware.

This is obviously an up and coming genre. Splickety Magazine recently hosted a Steampunk and Cyberpunk short fiction contest. I expect to see some good writing in that genre there.

Do you  have any Steampunk genre recommendations? Are you writing Steampunk?
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