October is usually a time for orange leaves, pumpkins, ghouls, and ghosts. But, I think it should be a month of clockwork trains, aeronautical goggles, and steam-powered machines more amazing than you can imagine. In essence, October is steampunk.
October 15th marks the anniversary of when the New Orleans, the first US steamboat, made the long journey along the mighty Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Pittsburgh, PA to New Orleans, LA. Owned by Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston, and built by Nicholas Roosevelt, the New Orleans was a marvel of its time and ushered in a new way for people to travel in luxury.
In honor of the New Orleans journey, here are 5 ways can have your own steampunk adventure in portable, but sadly not steam-powered, book form.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest: There is no doubt that Cherie Priest has carved herself a name in the brass inner workings of the literary steampunk genre. The first novel in her Clockwork Century series has everything you could ever want from a steampunk novel. There are airships, pirates, strange and old-fashioned weaponry, and an adventure through zombie infested Seattle.
Mainspring by Jay Lake: Known for his phenomenal short storys, author Jay Lake has created one of the most ambitious steampunk novels to date. Mainspring is the story of a clock maker’s apprentice who is visited by an angel and tasked with winding the mainspring of the Earth. In Mainspring, Lake has created not just a steampunk society, but an entire planet.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: Westerfeld reimagines World War I as a war between the Clankers who use giant mechanical behemoths, and the Darwinists who have modified animal biology to create their warriors. It is a fantastic piece of alternate history that is full of wonderful illustrations.
Steampunk Edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer: If you’re looking to dip your toe into the steampunk waters with some short stories from the likes of Michael Chabon, Neal Stephenson, Michael Moorcock, Joe R. Lansdale, and more, look no further than Steampunk. In addition to stories, the collection also features essays about the genre and it’s place within literature.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells: It wouldn’t be a proper list of steampunk stories without The Time Machine. It is one of the grand-daddies of them all and really set the tone for steampunk to come. It has the Victorian setting, the technology that didn’t exist but is described in enough detail to make it seem real, and most importantly, it features a time-travelling adventure.