What is steampunk? I’m asked this question a lot, especially as the release date draws near for Tainted, the first book in my own steampunk series.
In a nutshell, the genre steampunk is a fusion of our history (usually Victorian or western) and science fiction/fantasy. For example:
- London set in an alternate universe where magic exists.
- A western city with sophisticated technology that runs on steam.
- A Goth English setting with a character who hunts monsters with high-tech weapons.
What I love about steampunk is the possibilities. Steampunk isn’t just science fiction or Victorian. It can have magic if you want. Or you can borrow from the time period of your choice without being confined to it or to the technology that existed. So if you want to invent some kind of steam powered cell phone, go for it!
The thing that sets steampunk apart from other genres (both visually and in story) is the feel. Steampunk has a feel of fantastical inventions, adventure, and science/discovery. Usually cogs, clocks, corsets, goggles, airships, and alchemy are associated with steampunk stories. But you don’t have to have any of those if you don’t want to. Have fun and create your own technology, weapons, and culture.
My own steampunk series borrows heavily from the Victorian era and science. I also had fun inventing things such as mechanical animals, an airship that runs on solar panels, a sniper rifle hidden within a walking cane, and a prosthetic arm that functions as an electric cannon.
But like any other genre, the story cannot stand on just the genre underpinnings. What connects the reader to the story is the story itself, with characters the reader can relate to. So while you’re having fun inventing your steampunk world, remember to tell a story, one that will grip your readers by the heart and mind.
How about you? Have you ever heard of steampunk before? What do you like about this sub-genre?
What Happens When Your Soul Dies?
Kat Bloodmayne is one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. But she carries a secret: she can twist the natural laws of life. She has no idea where this ability came from, only that every time she loses control and unleashes this power, it kills a part of her soul. If she doesn’t find a cure soon, her soul will die and she will become something else entirely.
After a devastating personal loss, Stephen Grey leaves the World City Police Force to become a bounty hunter. He believes in justice and will stop at nothing to ensure criminals are caught and locked up. However, when Kat Bloodmayne shows up in his office seeking his help, his world is turned upside down.
Together they search World City and beyond for a doctor who can cure Kat. But what they discover on the way goes beyond science and into the dark sphere of magic.
Book one of The Soul Chronicles series.
Order your copy of Tainted here: www.enclavepublishing.com
7 thoughts on “What is Steampunk?”
I really enjoyed the “Etiquette and Espionage” series by Gail …something. It started with a “C”. Super fun with a mechanical doggy named Bumbersnoot and a flying dirigible girls school. I’m looking forward to your steampunk release, Morgan.
Your book looks fantastic! I’d love to write a steampunk story, but get bogged down in the science of it (how does it work, why does it do this and not that, etc.) Do you have to explain everything to the reader? Or can you just say “this items does this because I said so.” (Classic mom response.)? 🙂
Haha, a bit of both. I’m a science nerd anyway, so I like to see how things work. But I’m also a dreamer and ask, “what if?”, and sometimes that doesn’t fit in with science, at least the science in our world.
There is also the “suspension of disbelief”. You want to create a world or item that seems almost real, like it could happen. You don’t want your reader sitting back and going, “that couldn’t happen” even though most of the time that is the case. You do this by presenting the science in a way that seems plausible, but don’t over explain or else your readers will spot the holes. As I say in my writing classes, “explain enough so you look like an expert, but not so much that an expert could nail you to the wall.”
I really want to read more Steampunk novels! I just love the aesthetic of the genre 🙂
By any chance in your first description (London where Magick works), did you have in mind Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy novels? They’re old enough that no one would have called them ‘steampunk’ but maybe they fit your description?? I always loved them so they popped into my mind right away.