Great Pieces of Steampunk Literature

July 13 2017 Written by Shawn Carling

Steampunk culture is more than a niche in today's world. There are proponents all over the world, and no shortage of media and literature with which to enjoy the genre. No matter what your steampunk preference, Victorian era, Old West, or apocalyptic dystopia, there is sure to be plenty of literature and media for you to enjoy. Here, we have listed some of our favorite pieces of steampunk literature.

 Against The Day

We decided to start strong, and make no mistake this Thomas Pynchon entry is no easy read. With over 100 different characters, there is no glossing over the plot of this book. Beginning in 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair, and following a crew of young, green balloonists, this 1,000+ page book is the steampunk gift that keeps on giving.

Agatha H and the Airship City

Mad scientists? Airships? Beautiful heroines? This entry has it all! Written by Phil and Kaja Foglio, this steampunk (cyberpunk, to be technical) adventure follows Agatha, a student at Transylvania Polygnostic University. In a world where heroic adventurers known as Hetrodynes have disappeared, mad scientists terrorize the denizens of the world. Agatha aspires to be an inventor, but doesn't seem to have the spark for it. That is, until she is captured by the ruthless Baron Klaus Wulfenbach and finds out what she is really made of.

Frankenstein

While it is debatable whether Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, should be considered steampunk, there is no doubt that it was a precursor, and one of the first examples of science fiction. A classic work of fiction, follow Frankenstein  in Victorian England as he defies death and creates his "monster" using his ingenious lightning powered invention.

Homunculus

Written by James P. Blaylock, and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, Homunculus is a riveting blend of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, and H.G. Wells. We won't get too into the details of the plot, but suffice it to say it starts with a dirigible with a dead pilot passing over Victorian London, and follows scientists/explorer Langdon St. Ives and evangelist Shiloh, who is convinced the blimp carries his father, a tiny space alien.

Mortal Engines

This entry is great for beginners in the steampunk genre. Set in a post apocalyptic landscape, where the world is ravaged by nuclear warfare, the citizens survive in giant, mechanized, moving cities. Because there are no natural resources left, these cities survive by consuming each other for their parts.

Steampunk

 

Another great entry for beginners in the genre, Steampunk is an anthology of short stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. If you want to know what is possible in the world of steampunk, what's in it, and many of the tropes, this is a great way to get exposed.

The Anubis Gates

Written by Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates are a classic steampunk story with a fantasy feel. Following an eclectic cast, from an Egyptian sorcerer, to a body switching werewolf, to a brainwashed Lord Byron, you'll feel for the protagonist Professor Brendan Doyle, who quite frankly wanted none of this "nonsense".

The Difference Engine

Written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, this work helped to define and establish the genre of steampunk. It's set in 1855, where the computer has already arrived due to one Charles Babbage's creation of the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine. Part detective novel, part thriller, this journey starts with the discovery of some punched Engine cards, cards someone is trying to kill for.

The Golden Compass

We mentioned this one in our movie list, but the books are just so much better. Part of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, follow Lyra Belacqua in a world where every person's soul is split in half and and put into the body of an animal dæmon. A mysterious "dust", being researched by her father Lord Asriel, is making a stir. Mixed with fantastical elements, this story is still full of steampunk inventions and landscapes.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

 

Another entry that was on our movie list, this classic by Jules Verne is one of the original instances of steampunk. Verne is known for other such steampunk classics as Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Verne is actually the second most translated English author, between William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie.

The Warlord of the Air

Written by Michael Moorcock before steampunk was an official genre, this story follows Oswald Bastable, who is transported to an alternate 20th century where World War One never happened, and steam power is the norm. It's part of a trilogy under the name The Nomad of Time.

 

Hopefully you found this list interesting and entertaining. All of these steampunk stories make for a great read, and of course there is plenty more steampunk literature out there for you to enjoy. Here at Machine Age Lamps, we love everything there is about steampunk. We love it so much, we've made creating one of a kind pieces of steampunk art our profession. If you would like a masterfully crafted machine age lamp or table made from original farm equipment, then check our product listing here. If you have any questions about our products or delivery, please don't hesitate to give us a call today. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.