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Topic: Steampunk

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Subject: Steampunk
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
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I'm not sure if I have the correct place... Would Steampunk be considered part of the Fantasy genre? Sorry if this is a lame question, lol.

Date Posted: 12/1/2009 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Absolutely. Are you looking for anything in particular?

Date Posted: 12/1/2009 6:21 PM ET
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The VanderMeers edited a Steampunk anthology that is really terrific.  I reviewed it here if you're interested.

Date Posted: 12/1/2009 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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I've seen steampunk get classified in both the fantasy and science fiction genres. . . in my opinion it usually fits slightly better in fantasy, but it more commonly gets categorized as science fiction because it grew out of cyberpunk, which is absolutely science fiction, and there is major overlap in the author pool. Did you have a question about the subgenre? Were you looking for recommendations? Or was that all you wanted to know? :)

Date Posted: 12/1/2009 8:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
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Yeah, I was looking for some recommendations. I'm getting ready to go rent the anthology caviglia mentioned from the library. That would give me an idea on which aurthors I would like, though I suppose there are a lot more authors to choose from:)  I was checking out some lists online and S.M. Peters looks good. Oh, and Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Any thoughts on those? Any recommendations?

Date Posted: 12/2/2009 1:58 AM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2009
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One cannot go wrong with Cherie Priest.

As for a recommendation, since you like paranormal romance (according to your profile) I would recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger, as it is a kind of blend between steampunk and paranormal romance.

Date Posted: 12/2/2009 5:46 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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You could try Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam. It too is a sort of blend of paranormal and steampunk and adds mystery to the mix as well. It takes place in an alternate America that never broke away from England around the turn of the 20th century. The steampunk elements are fairly light -- no infodumping of intricately worked out alternate technologies, just enough for atmosphere -- the paranormal ones a little more in-depth -- the main characters are Don Sebastien de Ulloa, a vampire private detective, and Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett, a forensic sorcerer and necromancer -- and the collection is made up of six novellas each of which has its own mystery to solve.


If you wanted something heavier on the steampunk world-building, you could join me in reading The Light Ages by Ian R. MacLeod -- it's on my TBR stack for the SF Challenge and I'd love to have someone to talk about it with. :)

Date Posted: 12/2/2009 10:02 AM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
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I got into Paranormal Romance about 6 months ago (Never thought I would touch them, lol).  The problem is that they're all starting to read the same. I'm waiting for Soulless to show in the mail. Any day now...

New Amsterdam looks good:) So does The Light Ages. I was checking that out last night on Amazon and a couple other sites. I'm worried I'm gonna pick up something 'heavy' and get overwhelmed, if that makes any sense. And I hope this doesn't sound too silly, but a little romance (?) is cool. From what I was checking out last night, though, there isn't much of it, is there? Or it's not considered real Steampunk.

I just started reading the anthology Steampunk and the first story is by Michael Moorcock, which is cool 'cause I read his Elric saga when I was a teen.

(Oh! The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey and the Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston look good, but those would be considered Pulp Fiction, right? Another sub-genre entirely!)

Last Edited on: 12/2/09 10:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/2/2009 1:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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If you're worried about something too heavy (and believe me, I understand --  I need to be in a certain mood to read Hard SF or I'll just put the book down and never finish) I'd say definitely give New Amsterdam a try. As I mentioned, the steampunk setting is more background than her main focus, and the fact that it's linked novellas makes it much more approachale -- if one really isn't working for you you can skip it and move on to the next. There is a teeny tiny bit of romance about it too. . .

As for what the Mike Carey and Charlie Huston books would be considered, I don't really know as I haven't read either author, but Amazon and Wikipedia call their books "supernatural noir," which was not a term I had heard before you brought the books to my attention, so thank you. :) I agree they wouldn't be steampunk though, because they're set in modern times.

Date Posted: 12/2/2009 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
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Supernatural Noir... First time I've heard that as well.

Gonna get New Amsterdam from the library today. Sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation!

Date Posted: 12/3/2009 3:54 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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I have Clockwork Heart on my TBR pile.  By Dru Pagliassotti.  It is suppose to be a steampunk romance.

Wish my library had New Amsterdam.   The WL is moving slow.  And the sequel,  Seven for a Secret, is really hard to find.  Only in Hardcover with a limited run.

Date Posted: 12/3/2009 9:01 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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I've also really enjoyed some of Neal Stephenson's Steampunkier books.  The Baroque Trilogy is sitting on my TBR, but I really liked The Diamond Age.

Date Posted: 12/4/2009 3:55 AM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
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Looks like my library has a lot of books available in the Steampunk catagory, which really surprised me. But since joining PBS I would rather own books to read at my leisure or to post to another member.

Thanks for all the suggestions:) It's brought to attention authors I would pass by because I don't know much about the genre, yet. I tend to go overboard with the researching though, and I'm spending more time 'searching' than reading, lol. You all have been very helpful.

Date Posted: 12/4/2009 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2009
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I've read both Boneshaker and Soulless.  I liked Soulless better - I found the the way Seattle was depicted in Boneshaker to be really grim and depressing.  I would still recommend it but it wasn't one of my favorties.  Soulless was lighter and more tongue in cheek.    I would also recomment Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere - both the book and BBC TV series which you can get on NetFlix.

Date Posted: 12/4/2009 8:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
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I just started Soulless and I'm lovin' it so far. I was going to check out Neverwhere. There was a TV series? Huh... I've watched Dr. Who from SurfTheChannel. Maybe Neverwhere will be available. If not, then rent.

Date Posted: 12/27/2009 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
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I agree, Soulless was a great book and I can't wait for the second one. I would start there if you haven't read any steampunk before.

Date Posted: 12/30/2009 12:26 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2006
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No one has mentioned China Mieville?  His New Crobuzon books don't tidily fit into the genre, but they definitely have some steampunk elements...

Subject: suggested steampunk books
Date Posted: 1/1/2010 2:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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Not sure if these are really steampunk, but all are wonderful and worth exploring- you might find you have expanded your horizons.

Jay Lake- Mainspring and later in series          Fantastic and noble characters, competing factions, lots of fun to read

Gail Carriger-  Soulless                  another vote for this book-  great fun - with romance thrown in

Kim Newman - Anno Dracula-  world where Dracula married Queen Victoria-    GREAT WRITING

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies        lots of fun- add zombies to the original Jane Austen

Neil Gaiman-  another vote for Gaiman- esp. American Gods, Neverwhere and of course Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett)

Naomi Novik-  intelligent dragons are used in lieu of planes by England and Napoleon to fight their war

Sean McMullen- usually classified as sci-fi- world where technology was lost in "Great Winter", and "the call" forces people to march blindly toward the sea (if they don't tether themselves), aviads (bird-human hybrids), society starts again to develop computers, planes-  absolutely great- start with Souls in the Great Machine

Elizabeth Scarborough- The Goldcamp Vampire (Alaska during gold rush), or The Lady in the Loch (Sir Walter Scott helps solve crimes)

Other FABULOUS Authors and books

Kage Baker-  The Company series-     Dr Zeus modifies children into immortals, who are sent back in time to preserve or bring back plants, paintings or other things that would otherwise be lost.  

Connie Willis- To Say Nothing of the Dog (people sent back in time to  retrieve item from cathedral), The Doomsday Book

Liz Williams- The Snake Agent  (people can travel between Heaven, Hell and our world), the Snake Agent (policeman in New Singapore) with his demon lieutenant solve crimes.

Steven Brust-  start with The Phoenix Guards, or one of the Vlad Taltos books

Christopher Moore- esp. the Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Lamb, or just start with Practical Demonkeeping

Jim Butcher-   Wizard Dresden series

James F David-  Footprints of Thunder   (time rift allows dinosaurs into contemporary world)

William C Dietz-  Legion of the Damned  (futuristic Foreign Legion with cyborgs- military Sci Fi, great stories)

Terry Pratchett- the entire Discworld series starting with The Color of Magic   (and of course Good Omens, with Neil Gaiman)

Simon Green-  Nightside series, and Deathstalker series

Tanya Huff - Valor series (military sci fi with female heroine), Blood series and Shadow series (vamps)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch-  The Disappeared and later in series-  sci fi where humans have to "disappear" to avoid death for violating little-known alien laws


Richard Kadrey- Sandman Slim-    man comes back from 11 years in Hell looking for vengeance against those who sent him there-   YES!!!

Subject: Regarding the first post,
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2008
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I'm going to say that is not a lame question, since some of us (me) don't even know what "steampunk" is, lol!

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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The definition we're using in the SF Challenge (which I'll admit I took from Wikipedia) is this:

Steampunk: Works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (but not actually by authors of that era) or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

It started out as being novels written by cyberpunk authors that had an archaic setting rather than a futuristic setting; it's often characterized by a cynical outlook, but is not usually dystopian the way cyberpunk is. The first steampunk novel that was characterized as such was The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterline, though of course there were steampunk stories and novels prior to that work and there are plenty of novels that would now be classified as steampunk but when they were written there was no term for the subgenre (for example, Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake).

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 11/27/2007
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Haha I literally came over here to post a similar thread when I saw this, so before starting a new thread, I'll see if I can get anything I'm looking for here: When I first found out what steampunk was, it sounded kind of interesting, but a little bit too technical and machine-focused for my tastes. Then I found out about gaslight/gaslamp romances/fantasies, which are apparently a subgenre of steampunk and seem right up my alley. However, I've been looking everywhere and cant seem to find any of the actual books written in that genre, all I could are the works that influenced it (Sherlock Holmes, etc.) Anyone have ideas on where to start? Atmosphere is important to me, so anything in London is preferable.

(And I've already wishlisted Anno Dracula, which looks pretty good.)

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 8:38 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Hmmm. . . well, Wikipedia has a page about "gaslight fantasy" that has a list of authors and works here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslamp_Fantasy

I would assume the Elizabeth Bear works they are referring to are New Amsterdam and Seven for a Secret, which take place in America and so not quite what you're looking for -- though they are excellent.

The first Naomi Novik is set in England, but I'm not sure it has the feel you're going for, as the Temeraire books are really Horatio Hornblower books with dragons in place of ships. . . and the writing is only OK.

I haven't read any of the others, though so I don't know if they would work better!

There is also a book called The Light Ages which is on my TBR pile that might work. . . here's the description:

In the northern town of Bracebridge, young Robert Borrows already knows what his future holds: never-ending toil in the dangerous aether mines, extracting the coveted -- and feared -- magic from the ground. But his life changes when his mother takes him on a mysterious trip to an isolated and dilapidated manor. There he meets the precocious Annalise, a child rich in hidden magic and not quite of this world. Years later, Robert and Annalise will learn that their fates were entwined long before they first met, even before they were born -- on an infamous day in Bracebridge when the mines stopped working. And what they discover about that day might end this age of misery once and for all.

It's by Ian R. MacLeod, and according to the reviewers it "powerfully recalls Dickens's Great Expectations" (so says The Washington Post Book World). It does move to London, btw.

Good luck, and be sure to let us know if you find anything you love!

Date Posted: 1/23/2010 2:15 AM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2009
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I thoroughly enjoyed Whitechapel Gods  which was steampunk but with fantasy underpinnings.