Long before I heard the word “steampunk,” I knew I loved clock gears, old keys, Art Nouveau, Neo-Victorian costumes, time machines, Michael Moorcock and anything with brass, copper and rivets. But it took me awhile to warm up to contemporary steampunk literature. Carina Press authors such as Robert Appleton, Christine Bell, Cindy Spencer Pape and Seleste deLaney finally turned me into a fan.
Robert mentioned Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he blogged about The Mysterious Lady Law. Which might explain why I enjoy his books so much. I read quite a bit of Victorian Era literature and some of my favorites include those authors, as well as Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, William Thackeray and Elizabeth Gaskell. Since steampunk is based on the Victorian Era, I expect it to have a voice and feel (at least somewhat) akin to the classics of the period.
One of the charms of steampunk is that it may be mixed with a variety of other genres. Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles series includes magic-and-fantasy. Island of Icarus by Christine Danse is a Male/Male romance. Christine Bell’s The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale is a time-pirate adventure. Cruel Numbers is a detective mystery by Christopher Beats. Selah March’s Heart of Perdition is gothic horror along the lines of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
With anything I read, I want great characters and a compelling plot, of course. But I think world-building is absolutely essential for steampunk. I don’t want to read, as my friend Jill calls it, “find/replace steampunk.” As if the author wrote a generic story, then went through and substituted “dirigible” for “airplane,” “corset” for “dress,” and “steam” for “electric.”
But enough about me. You tell us, how do you like your steampunk? Romantic? Supernatural? Scientific? Do you enjoy elaborate descriptions of fantastical contraptions? Automatons and mad scientists? Explorers and airship pirates? With Victorian morals and conventions, or with modern sensibilities? Are you getting a little bored with gears, goggles and dirigibles, or can’t get enough? Do you want it set in Victorian London, or would you like to read some steampunk set in far-flung locales? What are some of your favorite steampunk stories, and what do you think is missing from the genre?
J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and the upcoming sequel, Stellarnet Prince (November 2012) published by Carina Press. She is also a jewelry artist whose work is featured in the books “Steampunk Style Jewelry” and “1000 Steampunk Creations.”