Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Steampunk fiction at MMPL

Over the course of constructing a display on steampunk fiction (currently on the tables nearest the nonfiction section), I did a bit of research on the history and exact definition of "steampunk fiction." It turns out that there isn't an exact definition the term, but it is generally defined as speculative fiction with an element of invented technology that eschews electricity (machines powered by steam, clockwork or springs), frequently a Victorian-age setting (though it can also be Edwardian, or during the 1940's, an alternative present or, occasionally, even the future), with a tone that isn't as dystopian as cyberpunk. Frequently there are elements of the supernatural (vampires, werewolves), sometimes there is crime fighting, and Queen Victoria occasionally makes cameo appearances.

I ran across this article from from last year that I thought was nice: The remarkable resilience of steampunk. It reviews a few steampunk novels and discusses the subgenre a bit. If you're looking for somewhere to start reading, William Gibson's The difference engine is frequently mentioned as pretty influential in the subgenre. There are several established SF authors who occasionally dip into a steampunk universe from time to time: Neal Stephenson in The diamond age, Michael Moorcock in The metatemporal detective, S.M. Stirling with The Peshawar Lancers. We also have several anthologies of steampunk short stories, which are great for readers who want a taste of many different authors who write in the genre. Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and its sequel, Dreadnought, are frequently listed on steampunk reading lists, and I have to include Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series just because it is a personal favorite. If you're interested in other steampunk novels, stop by the new display or the Reference Desk for more ideas. Happy reading!

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