Steampunk: a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.
in Urban Dictionary

I’ve only recently discovered that steampunk it’s actually a genre, but I’ve always been instinctively attracted to that type of atmosphere. I’m interested in knowing more, so decided to go deeper into it in 2011, specially since I haven’t found a novel as good as my favorite steampunk graphic novels and anime movies. So if you have recommendations, please let me know. Already on my radar:

  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  • The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul di Filippo
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  • Larklight by David Wyatt

What I really like about steampunk is the aesthetic component. If well done it completely stimulates the areas in my brain for imagination, adventure, romance and beauty. Steampunk also fits with my love of art-nouveau and other late-XIX and early-XX century glass-and-metal architecture. Train stations and greenhouses in particular fascinate me and I could be hours just soaking in the environment at Antwerp Central or St Pancras.

Because it’s so visual, steampunk adjusts well to all types of channels: books, graphic novels, movies, anime, design, illustration, fashion and architecture. (Question: on impulse I would say that steampunk would attract more male followers, would that be right? Note to self: investigate)

Most people read/watch steampunk without actually categorizing it as such, but lately it;s been picking up steam (no pun intended :)), and making a name for itself. In October 2009 had a Steampunk Month, Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science had an exhibition on steampunk which ended in Feb 2010, and the TV series Castle will have a steampunk episode (called “Punk”) that promises to be memorable. Reading the advanced reviews really made me want to attend a meeting of aficionados.

In the book blogging world, The Bookkeeper is organizing a Steampunk Challenge, which I’ll join in 2011.

A couple of recommendations

Graphic Novels
These are actually my two favorite graphic novel series of all time, they just happen to be both steampunk.

  •  A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
    Especially satisfying for lovers of Victorian literature as it’s completely full of (more or less) obscure references.
  • The Cities of the Fantastic (Les Cités Obscures) by François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters
    Not very famous outside the French-Belgian graphic novel world. Schuiter is the son of two architects and you can tell by his attention to architectonic detail. Think Twilight Zone meets Victor Horta meets Jules Verne.

… and these are all by Studio Ghibli