Tag: Parasol Protectorate

My Search for Good Steampunk Literature

Posted April 12, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 7 Comments

Steampunk and literature is an odd combination and I’ve often found it hard to find decent examples of this genre. It has gotten to the point where it is easier to look for the genre Alternate History instead of trying to find good Steampunk that isn’t the generic mass produced Young Adult novels. I’m not saying all Steampunk or YA novels are mass produced rubbish but when I look at the most popular Steampunk list on Goodreads I find the top ten are pretty much 4 different YA book series;

  • Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
  • Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
  • The Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest
  • The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

I’ve not read many books from these series but I tend to think of those books are either Paranormal Fiction or Fantasy with very small elements of Steampunk. I know this genre is hard to categorise because it often features elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and paranormal but from a literary point of view it’s hard to find to find exceptional novels in this genre. Often this genre is generalised as Victorian alternative history featuring anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations.

So if we leave out the obvious influences, such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and even Mary Shelley are there any Steampunk novels that a wannabe literary snob like me would consider worthy? I can only think of two.

The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling

Often considered one of the first Steampunk novels this had pretty much everything  I want in a Steampunk novel; the Victorian/Sci-Fi mix worked really well and it was nice to read a book with one of my heroes, Lord Byron, in it. The book follows a world changing with the invention of a mechanical and analytical computer. The book focuses not only on the technological boost but also the social change that come with it. Although at times it did drag on a little, this is definitely a recommended read for someone interested in getting a feel for the Steampunk genre.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Having recently mentioning this book in my trending books post, I thought Imight read this book before everyone else does. I’m glad I did. I hope this book gets read by many people; it has so much to offer. Angelmaker is a Steampunk adventure unlike anything I’ve read before, featuring a mystery involving Joe Spork the son of a gangster, a spy and his quest to stop the evil villain Shem Shem Tsien and his doomsday device. While this book  may feel more like a plot for a Bond movie the writing is what makes this book so great; while many people compare the style to Charles Dickens, I think that it was the Victorian writing style that made this book such a standout.

I’m interested in the Steampunk genre, so I would love to know what people think about it and what they would recommend to others. I will continue my search from great books,

even in the Steampunk genre and I hope to never rule out a popular YA books as good literature.