June 8, 2012 by Reader's Connection
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Discussion Group will meet for the second time at Glendale Library on Sunday, June 24th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
This month’s theme will be steampunk–appropriately, as this is our Summer Reading Program theme. You can come to discuss any relevant book that you like, but Glendale Librarian Jan Swan has assembled some titles. Here’s her write-up:
The term “steampunk” was coined by K. W. Jeter to describe a science fiction subgenre that is known for combining Victorian era surroundings with advanced technology. Steampunk is generally known for gadgetry especially those designed to utilize gears or steam. Alternative worlds or histories paired with adventure and rebellion are also hallmarks of the genre.
H. G. Wells and Jules Verne are considered the great grandfathers of Steampunk. Their novels The Time Machine and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were particularly influential. Much of what is considered “Steampunk” has been written in the last 20 years although the seminal works of the genre were written in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Some of these are currently out of print but some such as Anubis Gates by Tim Powers and the Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter are still available. The following books are listed from the earliest publications to the more recent. As you read from the earlier novels to the most recently published, you can see how steampunk has evolved over time.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1869)
In the mid-nineteenth century, a French professor and his two companions become trapped aboard a fantastic submarine as prisoners of the deranged Captain Nemo and come face to face with exotic ocean creatures and strange sights hidden from the world above.
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1898)
Presents the classic science-fiction thriller depicting the adventures of the time traveler whose fantastic invention carries him into the world of the future.
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Steve Sterling (1991)
Frequently cited as one of the earlier novels of steampunk, this novel appears on all the lists of best titles. It’s an alternate history novel that posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer called Engines.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1995)
In an alternative world in which every human being is accompanied by an animal familiar, the disappearance of several children prompts Lyra and her bear protector to undertake a journey to the frozen Arctic in pursuit of kidnappers.
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (1995)
Decades into our future, a stone’s throw from the ancient city of Shanghai, a brilliant nanotechnologist named John Percival Hackworth has just broken the rigorous moral code of his tribe, the powerful neo-Victorians. He’s made an illicit copy of a state-of-the-art interactive device called A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. Commissioned by an eccentric duke for his grandchild, stolen for Hackworth’s own daughter, the Primer’s purpose is to educate and raise a girl capable of thinking for herself. It performs its function superbly. Unfortunately for Hackworth, his smuggled copy has fallen into the wrong hands.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore (2000, in graphic novel form–Volume 1 is pictured here.)
In 1898, as the glory days of the British Empire were waning, an incredible band of adventurers–including Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, and the Invisible Man–was brought together to save England in its hour of greatest need.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (2009)
Inventor Leviticus Blue creates a machine that accidentally decimates Seattle’s banking district and uncovers a vein of Blight Gas that turns everyone who breathes it into the living dead. Sixteen years later Briar, Blue’s widow, lives in the poor neighborhood outside the wall that’s been built around the uninhabitable city. Life is tough with a ruined reputation, but she and her teenage son Ezekiel are surviving–until Zeke impetuously decides that he must reclaim his father’s name from the clutches of history.
Heart of Veridon by Tim Akers (2009)
When an old friend gives him a strange artifact, Jacob Burn–pilot, criminal, and the disgraced son of one of the founding families of the ancient city of Veridon–goes up against a dark entity that forces him to question everything he knows about himself.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield (first book in the Leviathan trilogy) An alternate history of the beginning of World War I. (2009)
In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.
Soulless (first book in the Parasol Protectorate trilogy) Gail Carriger (2009)
When Alexia, a soulless spinster with the ability to negate supernatural powers, accidentally kills a vampire, her life goes from bad to worse when Lord Maccon, a gorgeous werewolf, is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman (2010)
This steampunk reimagining of the American West follows the efforts of a spiritually protected doctor to analyze two rival factions that are oppressing the world’s people, a study that leads to her discovery of a broken general from a mythological resistance force. By the Locus Award-nominated author of Thunderer.
The Last Page by Anthony Huso (2010)
Reluctantly assuming the throne of Stonehold, young High King Caliph Howl inherits ugly court secrets and a brewing civil war, a situation that is complicated by the return of former love Sena, who spies on the king while trying to unlock a destructive ancient text.
Steampunk edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer (2008)
Replete with whimsical mechanical wonders and charmingly anachronistic settings, this pioneering anthology gathers a brilliant blend of fantastical stories. Steampunk originates in the romantic elegance of the Victorian era and blends in modern scientific advances synthesizing imaginative technologies such as steam-driven robots, analog supercomputers, and ultramodern dirigibles. The elegant allure of this popular new genre is represented in this rich collection by distinctively talented authors, including Neal Stephenson, Michael Chabon, James Blaylock, Michael Moorcock, and Joe R. Lansdale. Steampunk II (2010) was the follow-up.
Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer (2011)
Discusses the steampunk movement in fiction, film, art, music, and fashion, tracing its history from Victorian science fiction novels and detailing its evolution into modern popular culture.
Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Michael Mignola (2012)
In 1925, earthquakes and a rising sea level left Lower Manhattan submerged under more than thirty feet of water, so that its residents began to call it The DrowningCity. Those unwilling to abandon their homes created a new life on streets turned to canals and in buildings whose first three stories are underwater.Fifty years have passed since then, and The Drowning City is full of scavengers and water rats, poor people trying to eke out an existence, including Simon Hodge, a Victorian detective who’s kept himself alive with magic and steampunk mechanics, and the stalwart sidekick, Joe Golem, whose own past and true identity is a mystery to him, but who walks his own dreams as a man of stone and clay, brought to life for the sole purpose of hunting witches.