Dear Beloved Followers,
But I can give you my impression of the genre.
You can find definitions on Wikipedia, or Matt’s fabulous site, that describe steampunk as 1) science fiction set in a Victorian era using steam technology, and/or 2) a more expansive aesthetic that includes science fantasy features that are futuristic and retro at the same time.
But steampunk strikes me mostly as an attitude. With the future appearing bleak in much science fiction today, and future technology approaching magic, steampunk allows us to escape into an altered past, where technology is inventive but still intuitive – we can understand and admire an elegant airship or a clockwork robot or a fabricated Darwinist creature. The technology is pleasantly within our reach, and at the same time provides grist for many adventures, where communications are limited, speeds are slower, and the bad guys just might have a new mechanick device that will change everything.
And then there’s the fashion. Buttoned up clothing, goggles that go with everything, and extreme manners and high teas give a high brow yet campy feel to these stories. And these elements also make for great storytelling and a rich playground for writers to frolick in.
But while most steampunk escapes into a fantasy past, it carries with with it modern sensibilities about justice and equality. The heroines of steampunk are spunky girls dressed as boys or intrepid spies with dark histories. The heroes struggle with the norms of society as much as the girls do, but in different ways. And some steampunk novels dispense with the past altogether and bring the steampunkery into an altered present. Thus we have steampunk novels set in an altered World War I era (Leviathan, Behemoth), a hidden steampunk world in modern Avalon, Minnesota (The Brimstone Key), or a rich world of steamworks in Victorian England along with shape-shifters and other creatures-of-science (The Hunchback Assignments). But they all share a sassy and adventurous attitude that readers will quickly come to love.
This week we’ll have reviews of steampunk books, a guest post from a steampunk author, and the unveiling of a new feature on Ink Spells. To celebrate the steampunkery fun, I will be giving away the Steampunk Prize Pack of Awesome, as follows:
- My review copy of The Brimstone Key by Derek Benz and Jon S. Lewis
- Four posters from the Grey Griffins series (four pictures above)
- My review copies of The Hunchback Assignments and The Dark Deeps by Arthur Slade
- A SIGNED COPY of Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld