I’ve been hearing an awful lot about steampunk lately–along with several people wondering what in the world steampunk is.
Steampunk is defined as a sub-genre of science fiction, alternative history, and speculative fiction that is set in a 19th century, Victorian-type era. While the steampunk sub-genre is a spin-off from cyberpunk (a combination of cybernetics and typically post-industrial dystopia), it actually has its roots in the 1980s and 1990s and derives its name from stories set in steam-powered worlds that incorporate technologies that would have seemed futuristic to people of that era, including digital technology. Typically included in steampunk worlds are 19th century fashion, culture, and architectural style, along with other similar aspects of that age.
The grandfathers of the modern steampunk sub-genre include: Jules Verne (who wrote 56 French novels including Around the World in Eighty Days and A Journey to the Center of the Earth), H.G. Wells (The Island of Doctor Moreau, The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and many others), Mark Twain (novels such as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), and of course we can’t forget Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Over the last several years, steampunk has gained in popularity with modern authors including, but certainly not limited to: Cherie Priest (Boneshaker), Scott Westerfield (Leviathan), Dru Pagliassotti (Clockwork Heart), Tim Akers (Heart of Veridon), Ekaterina Sedia (The Alchemy of Stone), China Miéville (The Scar, The City and the City), among several others. (Works listed above do not represent the authors’ complete bibliographies.)
Now for the latest news: Tor Books is launching a steampunk newsletter, which the publisher is kicking off with a prize pack giveaway. If you want to check out this growing sub-genre, or if you are already a fan, you might want to register to receive the newsletter and be entered for a chance to win the related giveaway. You can do so at: http://us.macmillan.com/tor/promo/steampunk. Below is a picture of the entire prize pack. Contest ends December 12, 2010.