My friend Richard Harland is riding a wave of success with his YA steampunk, Worldshaker.
There is something very alluring about steampunk.
Long before I’d ever heard of the term, I was a fan of books from this era. I read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer to my children. Dickens was a staple of my own childhood and Sir Author Connan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was one of my comfort reads. Another of my favourites is the satirist, Saki. I read his Sredni Vashtar in my early twenties and never forgot it.
Jules Verne, HG Wells, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker were all writing steampunk back before the term was coined. For movies which set out deliberately to mine this genre, think Wild Wild West, The League of Extraordinary gentlemen, the Prestige and Sherlock Holmes.
For a list of contemporary writers who have dabbled in this genre look here. I think Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast could be added to this list. His setting and characters were very steampunk.
Here’s an article on ‘The Victoria Steam Exposition … a celebration of a growing subculture called steampunk — which unites Victorian era esthetics and futuristic inventions with modern literature and fashion.’
There is even a steampunk magazine, for those of us who can’t get enough of the genre.
So what is the allure of steampunk?
Is it the mixture of prudish Victorian morals and corsets?
Is it because readers are tired of dystopian futures and long for something whimsical?
Are readers tired of medieval-lite fantasies?
Perhaps the Victorian era looks romantic to us because enough time has passed for those maiden great aunts, who never worked or married because women of their station could not marry below themselves or disgrace their families by working, have all died out? Perhaps it is because this was an age when it looked like science was going to solve the world’s problems and the world was still a place where wonders would be discovered. It was a time when a tennis player could be so incensed by the quality of the tennis at the Olympics that he could jump the net, pick up a racquet and win a gold medal.
For those of you interested in writing steampunk, Richard has done a post about it here.
I could not resist this steampunk dalek!