An off-hand comment from a friend triggered an idea for a new novel.  I wrote the first chapter and realized, upon its completion, that this novel needed to be steampunk.  The only problem was that I’d never read any steampunk and had no idea exactly what it was.  I asked for recommendations, then read the first three books I could find at the local library.

  • Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters.  I read this one first, and it was not a good one to start with.  The author just threw us into the world (Whitechapel district of London) without any explanation as to setting or reasoning behind it.  I felt like I was reading a sequel.  And I completely didn’t understand the whole Grandfather Clock/Mama Engine/John Scared final battle.  Actually, I didn’t understand most of the book.
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.  Attempt two was slightly better.  The novel took place in zombie-filled Seattle around 1870.  The character development was lower than I like, but at least I understood it.
  • The Affinity Bridge by George Mann.  This was the best of the three.  It combined Victorian London and lots of gears (Whitechapel Gods) with airships and zombies (Boneshaker).  The writing quality was not the best, but it was a quick, fun read.  And I hear people like that sort of thing.  :)

So between those three and classic steampunk written by HG Wells and Jules Verne, I think I have a basic understanding of the genre.  It’s technology envisioned by the Victorian era:

  • Lots of gears, airships, automatons, and stuff made out of brass.
  • Everything is powered by steam (hence the name, steampunk).  Electricity seems to be okay as long as it just powers lights. No gas engines allowed.
  • Dress and mannerisms are firmly in the Victorian era.  My new novel is set in New York City, but I’ve read Age of Innocence, so I should be okay.

It’s going to be awhile before I get to this novel (need to finish editing The Lone Wolf by Halloween, just in time to finish A Handful of Wishes for NaNoWriMo and enter it in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest), so if you have any recommendations for steampunk stories I should read, or thoughts on the genre, please share them!

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