SF CORE Best Lists
- Best Modern Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction Series
- Best Stand Alone Science Fiction Books
- Top 25 Underrated Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction by Women
- Best Science Fiction Books for Young Adults
- Best Science Fiction Books for Children
- The Alternative Top 25 Best Science Fiction List
- Top 25 Science Fiction Books
- Top 100 Best Science Fiction Books
- Top 50 Best Science Fiction Movies of All Time
- Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century
- Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of All Time
- Best Science Fiction Graphic Novels
SF ERA Best Lists
- Best Science Fiction Books of 2014
- Best Contemporary Science Fiction Books
- Best New Wave Science Fiction Books
- Best Classic Science Fiction Books
- Best Early Science Fiction Books
- Best Proto-Science Fiction
- Best Modern Science Fiction Classics
SF GENRE Best Lists
- Best Hard Science Fiction Books
- Best Cyberpunk Books
- Best Space Opera Books (OLD AND MERGED WITH NEW)
- Best Dystopian Science Fiction Books
- Best Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction Books
- Best Alternate History Books
- Best Time Travel Science Fiction Books
- Best Robot Science Fiction
- Best Artificial Intelligence Science Fiction
- Top 25 Best Mars Science Fiction Books
- Best Literary Science Fiction Books
- Best Books About Science Fiction
- Best Space Opera Books
- Top 25 Post Human Science Fiction Books
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction Books About the Moon
- Best Non-English Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction Games of All Time
- Best Science Fiction Comic Books
- Best Science Fiction Anime
- Top 25 Military SciFi Books
OTHER Best Lists
Steampunk is an imaginative and fun sub-genre that gets its name from the technology it features: steam powered machinery. This sub-genre started very small in the late 1980's and has grown into a larger cultural and artistic movement including fashion. The central tenant is that the literature, technology, and fashion of the 19th and 20th centuries is more durable and aesthetically pleasing than the disposable counter parts of today. Generally, Steampunk takes place in Victorian England, or someplace very similar, where steam power has revolutionized all aspects of life and lead to unprecedented developments in science and society. The Sci Fi stories of Steampunk re-images the capabilities of modern technology through a Victorian lens by blending alternate history and Sci Fi.
Steampunk celebrates the work of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells by recapturing its spirit. While Steampunk may have started as a Sci Fi sub-genre, other genre elements of Fantasy and Romance are included.
You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Steampunk Science Fiction books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Note that Steampunk crossed the boundry between Science Fiction and Fantasy, often featuring elements of both genres. Some Steampunk might be more fantasy than science fiction and vice versa. For fantasy steampunk, check out bestfantasybooks.com's Best Steampunk Fantasy Books lists.
Other Features of Steampunk
- Level of Real Science
Minimal. While technology is an important component to Steampunk, it does tend to ignore scientific plausibility. For example the retro-futuristic technology found in the worlds of Jules Verne, like the phonotelephote invention. The telephote uses mirrors and wires to transport not only speech but images much like a video phone—it is a very well described technology, but it's construction is not very plausible.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
Low-moderate. Steampunk has a kind of philosophy, one that celebrates creativity, self-reliance, and has an optimistic view of the future. However, Steampunk does not usually (there are exceptions) delve into the exploration of grand ideas.
- Level of Characterization
Low-moderate. Steampunk is a very visual sub-genre and there is a strong emphasis on world-building. As a result, characterization often takes a backseat. There are several types of characters that pop up in Steampunk stories: the gentleman, the rebel, the adventurer, the mad scientist.
- Level of Plot Complexity
Low-moderate (with exceptions). The emphasis on world-building can make Steampunk plots a bit weak. That said, Steampunk can also have adventurous stories involving mystery and intrigue that make for an engaging plot line.
- Level of Violence
Variable. Steampunk has a sense of optimism that isn't always forayed by violence. However, the Steampunk world is one where cool weapons are invented, where pirates raid ships, and where empires are built and defended.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Cyberpunk. Both Cyberpunk and Steampunk build worlds that are focused on a single technology. For Cyberpunk it's the computer, and for Steampunk it is steam power.
Alternate History. Much of Steampunk takes place in Victorian England, at a time that is considered a turning point in history and so presents one of the ways history could have gone.
Voyages Extraordinaires. Steampunk hails back to the fantastical Voyages Extraordinaires of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells which captures that grand spirit of adventure and exploration. As such, SOME steampunk may feature some or many of these elements of exploration and adventure.
Retro-Futurism. There is sometimes a relationship between steampunk and retro-futurism subgenres in that one may use the other; that is some retro future tales might incorporate steam machinery as a future technology. Retro-Futurism might hail back to a re-imagined alternate world where steam-power powers the future. This hearkening back to a past time of steam technology to re-imagine the future with it.
- 1 The Anubis Gate
By Tim Powers. An award winning novel that has time travel, historical figures, Egyptian mythology, and 19th century England.
- 2 Homunculus
By James P. Blaylock. In 19th century London a dead man pilots an airship, also carp, zombies, evangelists, an alien in a jar, what more could you need? This novel is the second in its series and is a humorous adventure.
- 3 Infernal Devices
By K.W. Jeter. A Steampunk original, the protagonist inherits a watchmaker's store and subsequently goes on an adventure of mystery, time travel, and music.
- 4 The Difference Engine
By William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Set in Victorian England this is a novel that is part detective story and part spy thriller. The novel posits a world where the computer age begins 100 years sooner.
- 5 Leviathan
By Scott Westerfeld. The first of a series, this novel takes place at the cusp of WWI in a world divided into Clankers (those who have built their societies on machines and technology) and Darwinists (who have used genetics to modify animals in order to make them more useful).
- 6 Boneshaker
By Cherie Priest. Steampunk inventions, zombies, gold digging, air pirates, and even a bit of mini-apocalypse, this novel has a vivid setting and a fascinating adventure.
- 7 Girl Genius
By Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio and Brian Snoddy A graphic novel series that follows a female protagonist trying to become a mad scientist in a world where mad science is the name of the game and has an almost magical quality.
- 8 His Dark Materials
By Philip Pullman. A trilogy of young adult novels where science, theology, and magic are intertwined.
- 9 Steampunk
By Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. An anthology of Steampunk stories that highlight Steampunk's imaginative side, featuring writers such as Neal Stephenson, Michael Chabon, James Baylock, Michael Moorcock, and Joe R. Lansdale.
- 10 The Affinity Bridge
By George Mann. Mystery in Victorian London—this story combines airships, automatons, steam power, and even zombies for a fun adventure.