20 Steampunk Novels to Read If You're Looking For Something Different
We've included the steampunk genre in our 2017 reading challenge, but some readers may be wondering: what even is a "steampunk novel"? According to the Oxford Dictionary, steampunk is "a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology." Some consider the 1990 "alternative history novel" The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling as the book that started it all, while the term itself was coined by sci-fi author K.W. Jeter. Essentially, it's a mix of sci-fi fantasy that's both futuristic and historical, as it carries Victorian era elements mixed with modern technology. It can also be mixed with a range of other genres, from horror to romance.
I'll admit, I've never read a steampunk novel, but that's part of the fun of the challenge — to try something new and stretch my reading habits! Thankfully, members of the reading challenge Goodreads group have shared some of their recommendations for this lesser-known genre. We've rounded up 20 old and new books that could be classified as "steampunk" for you to check out. And if you're plotting out your book lists for the 2017 reading challenge, hopefully this helps!
Etiquette and Espionage
The Book: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
The Hook: The first in a YA series about a finishing school that's far from ordinary.
The Book: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
The Hook: The first in a YA historical romance series, which is the prequel to the Mortal Instruments series.
The Book: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
The Hook: A YA dystopian fantasy about a girl with a clockwork heart.
Spare and Found Parts
The Book: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
The Hook: Dystopian sci-fi meets horror in this Frankenstein-esque YA novel.
The Difference Engine
The Book: The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The Hook: Described as "part detective story, part historical thriller," this sci-fi novel about a reimagined Industrial Revolution is considered the book that launched the steampunk genre.
The Book: Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Hook: The first in a fantasy romance series described as "a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking."
The Book: Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
The Hook: A fantasy adventure about pirates in a world where ships soar in the sky.
The Book: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Hook: The first in a zombie sci-fi series set in an alternate Civil War–era Seattle.
The Map of Time
The Book: The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma
The Hook: The first in a historical detective thriller trilogy about time travel, incorporating real figures from history with fictional literary characters.
The Book: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
The Hook: An alternate history novel about colonization.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Book: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Hook: A classic epic adventure about a sea monster from the "Father of Science Fiction."
His Magesty's Dragon
The Book: His Magesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
The Hook: The first in an alternate history trilogy about dragons and the Napoleonic wars.
The Aeronaut's Windlass
The Book: The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
The Hook: The first in an action-adventure fantasy series set in a future world where people live on towers and travel on airships.
The Book: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The Hook: The first in a YA historical sci-fi series that takes place during WW1 on a British airship.
The Book: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
The Hook: A collection of YA short stories.
The Time Machine
The Book: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Hook: A time travel sci-fi classic by English novelist, historian, and science writer Herbert George Wells.
The Book: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
The Hook: Jack-the-Ripper meets the Wild West in this sci-fi fantasy.
The Iron Duke
The Book: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
The Hook: The first in an action adventure romance series that blends the British Regency period with an alternative Industrial Revolution.
The Book: Prudence by Gail Carriger
The Hook: The first in a romantic urban fantasy series set in Victorian England and India.
The Masque of the Red Death
The Book: The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
The Hook: A YA dystopian romance about the Plague.