Is steam punk still whistling?

I started to title this post “ramblings of a sad blogger” but decided that sounded too depressing to read. I am a little sad this weekend. I love, love, love having a long weekend, but this weekend I should have been in Atlanta having a blast at Dragon*Con. I’ve been reminiscing on last year and wondering if steam punk is still whistling this year. Last year at Dragon*Con, the steam punk costumes were everywhere. It was definitely the “it” thing.

Steam Punk costume at Dragon*Con

Steam Punk Girl at Dragon*Con 2009

Looking for steam punk recommendations!

The idea of steam punk, Victoria era England or Old West with steam power tech on steroids and sometimes magic, has always appealed to me. So far, the execution has always been a disappointment. Think Will Smith’s Wild Wild West—ack! Probably, I just haven’t read the right books yet. Any recommendations? 

Is Warehouse 13 tapping into steam punk popularity?

Somehow this got me to thinking about Warehouse 13 (don’t worry, the loop-d-loops in my train of thought scare me too) and how it is a mix of modern adventure, sometimes magic, old technology, and history. It might not be the real deal, but the combo gives it a steam punk feel, no?

I have to admit, I never thought Warehouse 13 would be a big hit. You’d think pulling from too many genres would leave it in a no man’s waste land, but the mash-up of all these different things seems to push all the right geeky buttons. Who wouldn’t like their own Tesla communications device or think the idea of using a pair of Mata Hari’s stockings to seduce men is cool?

Does the steam punk trend signal a trend toward reading in multiple genres?

Many authors who write across genres say their readers don’t follow them from one sub-genre to another. I have friends who love historical but won’t touch sci-fi and vice versa. I’ve often thought the reason I love both is because they both provide a total escape. Both rely on strong world-building. A poll in the October issue of Romantic Times Magazine seems to indicate I’m not alone in liking both. 48% of their readers who answered the poll admitted they read science fiction or fantasy.

So, have got any steam punk recommendations for me and which genres do you read?

6 thoughts on “Is steam punk still whistling?

  1. I love Steampunk, and I’m looking forward to seeing more romances set in that universe. However, I think it’s tricky because the awesome stuff can overwhelm the romance. The Steampunk book I like the most is actually just barely a romance. It’s called ‘The Anubis Gates’ by Tim Powers.

    I’ve never gone to DragonCon, but everyone raves about it. Guess I need to get an outfit and check it out!

  2. Hi Charlie,
    I came to your blog via The Galaxy Express and was just going through your back posts. I read mostly Urban Fantasy or PNR but I do have some recommendations for you!
    The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger is steampunk/paranormal romance, so you can kill two birds with one stone on these beauties. The first is ‘Soulless’. These books should come with a LOL warning for those times when you read them in public…
    Also, there’s ‘Boneshaker’ by Cherie Priest and, while there’s not a whole lot of romance (read: none) it’s definitely a rip-roaring steampunk adventure.
    I haven’t read them yet, but I’ve heard some good things about George Mann’s ‘The Osiris Ritual’, ‘Clockwork Heart’ by Dru Pagliasotti and ‘Perdido Street Station’ by China Mieville.
    Lastly, there’s the Cecelia and Kate series by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, starting with ‘Sorcery and Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot’. Set in the early 19th century, it reads just like Jane Austen but with magic and gadgets.
    Hope these help!

  3. I think what’s holding steampunk romance back is the fact that most people–authors, industry professionals, and readers alike–still don’t know what exactly is “steampunk”. Even though it’s been a buzzword for a little over a year, it continues to require a definition, and even then, so many steampunk fans have differing concepts of the label.

    Paranormal Romance is definite: supernatural creatures+HEA.

    Urban Fantasy is definite: Strong lead (male or female) in a supernatural world with a mystery core.

    Steampunk romance? Currently it ranges from alternate history (Meljean Brook), to a campy, witty supernatural take on the Victorian era (Gail Carriger), to a steam-filled, scientific-based alternate universe (Cherie Priest). That makes it hard for anyone to pin down the core concept of steampunk (is it an alternate view of 19th and early 20th centuries? Is it a critique of the -isms that plagued Victorian/Edwardian society? Or is it just a blend of paranormal and science with Victorian adventure novels a la H. Rider Haggard?).

    Plus, I think it’s more of an aesthetic than an actualized, concrete setting for fiction.

    • Hi Evangeline. Welcome to the blog! I think you are probably on to something with your last comment abut the aesthetic of steampunk. At the 2009 DragonCon I saw steampunk costumes everywhere, but that didn’t always correlate to discussion of steampunk fiction. A shame really.

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