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The best Steampunk books - A victorian sci-fi genre

Updated on August 25, 2015

Steampunk Sci-fi books and films in a Victorian era.

Steampunkis like Cyberpunk Is a sub-genre of science fiction. The setting of steampunk books and movies involves the time period like the Victorian era and the Wild West of the United States when steam power was wildly used for machine and crafted gadgets.

The technology is fictional though and not completely coherent to the era. Ground breaking authors are H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, they wrote their books even before the name Steampunk was coined. Famous books are 20.000 Miles Under the Sea and The Time Machine. Books who both have been translated to the big screen. As well a the contemporary author Philip Pullman who wrote the The Golden Compass. A classic story for kids and grown-ups alike.

The best Steampunk books and movies shos us a romantic longing for the good old fashioned technology with a hint of science fiction. The sci-fi genre of the steampunk changes history. Technology is slightly different than we would expect in the Victorian era or the Wild-West.

From the start steampunk was a great success and what started as a sci-fi genre became a cult. Steampunk nowadays is not only a sci-fi genre but spread it's wings to fashion, design and film. There are many steampunk clothes for sale. Some used as a great costume for Halloween parties, but also made as collectibles. Steampunk clothes, goggles and umbrellas are made with great passion and proud by aficionados. The real steampunk fans make there own clothes.

Best steampunk book.

The Difference Engine
The Difference Engine

Only by seeing the names of the authors alone you know : This is a brilliant top notch book. Gibson and Sterling go back to the Victorian times. The two cyberpunk authors go steampunk, and with great success. The book makes you think about history and how the present could have been when little things had changed 100 years back in time. A brilliant steampunk sci-fi book


The Difference Engine - William Gibson (Author), Bruce Sterling (Contributor)

The novel is set in the time of the industrial revolution. England is powered by steam and because of the scientist Geoge Babbage England got her computers (punched cards that is to say...) ahead of the rest of the world.

The Difference Engine is a spy novel, historical thriller and a steampunk book in one.

The Difference Engine also can be seen as an alternate history novel, steampunk books often use the "What If..." theme, typical for alternate history sci-fi.

The Difference Engine is probably one of the most famous and >best steampunk books around. A must for all steampunk fans.

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book)
The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book)

Diamond Age is a great book by Neal Stephenson. Although Stephanson became famous with his cyberpunk novel snowcrash, in The Diamond Age he shows us a incredible book about a book set in a neo-Victorian atmosphere in a far-future Shanghai. An interactive book intended to educate aristocratic young ladies how to behave...But it's more than that!! Building steadily to a wholly earned and intriguing climax, this long novel, which presents its sometimes difficult technical concepts in accessible ways, should appeal to readers other than habitual SF users. The book won the Hugo and the Locus award and is a classic in the steampunk genre.

Steampunk sci-fi books
Steampunk sci-fi books

The origins of Steampunk

Steampunk, the less known sister of Cyberpunk

The name Steampunk originates from the word Cyberpunk. The science fiction author K.W. Jeter coined the name in the sci-fi magazine Locus.

Although several sci-fi books where written in a steampunk style before the 80's the whole genre started to take form with the novel Morlock Night from K.W. Jeter. And as William Gibson may be called the father of cyberpunk, so K.W. Jeter may be called the father of steampunk. Together with Tim Powers and James Blaylock who all wrote sci-fi in a Victorian seting.

Steampunk was influenced by, and often adopts the style of 19th centurary authors like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley author of Frankenstein.

Later the steampunk genre became more then only a genre for sci-fi novels. It became a whole fashion industry. The influence of Steampunk could be seen in the art, fashion and design industry. Where it took root and still inspires. Think about the recently released steampunk movie Hugo. A heartbreaking movie directed by Martin Scorsese. Set in Paris around 1900, when film was just invented. A lovely film and must see for kids and adults.

Infernal Devices
Infernal Devices

This book is a classic, written in '87 by the man who coined the name steampunk for the science fiction genre set in Victorian times. Internal Devices telss the story about George Dower who inheret his fathers watchmaking buisness. But he hasn't a clue about what watches are all about. He has to learn rather rapidly... Ther novel set in Victorian London features automations, fish people, time travel and sexual intrigue...


The UFO Balloon theory. - Close Contact - when technologies come together

ufo balloon
ufo balloon

Steampunk and Fahion, Music and Movies

The Romanticism of steampunk is appealing. The devices used in the Victorian sci-fi novels are human and full of mechanisms, cogs and devices. There is a beauty in the brass and design of the huge machines used in the pre-industrial era.

Opposite to the computer era of today, where you hardly know, let alone can see how things work. - have you ever seen the inside of your computer and understood what all those tiny things stood for ? - I can relate more to the clockwork components of the mysterious devices used in the steampunk novels and movies.

The steampunk novels became so popular that even the clothes of the protagonists started to become a fashion industry. Not only at dress up parties, but just like Goth, Soul, Punk and Flower Power Steampunk became a fashion on its own. And just like the other genres Steampunk has its own sound too. Abney Park for instance is a great and famous steampunk band from Seattle.

The best victorian sci-fi steampunk books - Steampunk novels at it's best

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass
His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass

Also known as the Nothern Lights in England, its a great fantasy trilogy loaded with speampunk gadgets and machines.

The alethiometer takes a centre role in the book and measures the truthfulness of the intentions of persons.

Lightships are present as well. It is a great book for children and grownups alike.

His Dark Materials is a trilogy you want to finish as soon as possible when you started.


Five Great Science Fiction Novels by H.G. Wells godfather of the steampunk movement - best steampunk books by H.G. Wells.

Together with Jules Verne H.G. Wells is often called the grandfather of the steampunk genre. Although the term steampunk did not exist yet and the word was only coined in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. H.G Wells and Jules Verne where already writing stories about time machines, futuristic travel machines and clever clogs...

Five Great Science Fiction Novels (Dover Thrift Editions)
Five Great Science Fiction Novels (Dover Thrift Editions)

This box of 5 novels by H.G. Wells contain his most famous novels. Including

The Invisible Man

The Time Machine

The First Men in the Moon

The Island of Dr. Moreau

and The War of The Worlds

The novels are classics in world literature and are read by sci-fi lovers and literature lovers alike. The books have been an inspiration for movies, theater and other art disciplines alike. The 5 set box is a bargain and a treasure to have. For all those steampunk fans, this is how it all started.


His Dark Materials Trilogy - The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass

The books of Philip Pullman are for children and adults alike. Like Alice in Wonderland, His Dark Materials has many layers. Your kids will read it as an exciting and adventurous book set in a far away land. But if you look closer, the strange Victorian Steampunk country has more resemblance with the structure of our society today.

A classic and unforgettable story.

The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials (Hardcover))
The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials (Hardcover))

The famous book of Phillip Pullman is a classic adventure book for kids and grown ups. The story full of reflecting ideas about science and religion shows us a mirror to our own society. Like the lord of the rings, you have to have these books as harcover.

In the epic trilogy His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to worlds parallel to our own. Dæmons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes--if it isn't destroyed first.


Brazil one of the best Steampunk movies - Brazil - Kafka in Holywood

Brazil a steampunk movie
Brazil a steampunk movie

Brazil a classic steampunk film by Terry Gilliam

Brazil a classic film influenced by the steampunk movement. The film made by Terry Gilliam became a soon became a cult film after its enormous success. future The steampunk movie shows us a world where technology reigns supreme and bureaucracy overrules love for the sake of efficiency. If Kafka was alive today he would have made such a film. Fore everybody who has not seen the movie Brazil yet, you definitely should, and for those who have seen it, it's one of those films you want to see more than once.

What do you think about Steampunk - Steampunk novels and books a sci-fi genre on itself

Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books)  by Cherie Priest
Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books) by Cherie Priest

Had you ever heard about Steampunk before ?

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Steampunk exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford.

After the steampunk sci-fi genre started in literature, it soon became clear that not only authors but artists, designers and directors took a plunge in the steampunk pool of creativity as well. In this exhibition held in the museum of science in Oxford, you can marvel at the results of the steampunk creative minds on our planet.

Sherlock Holmes 2 : A Game Of Shadows' Official - A great steampunk movie.

Full of action, intellect, gadgets and set in the time before WWI. Sherlock Holmes and his archenemy Professor James Moriarty cross each other again. Sherlock Holmes has to prevent the first World War. A great movie, and yes Noomi Rapace (The Millennium Trilogy) is present as well, this time as a gypsy.

© 2012 PeterStip

Hi, Love to Hear from You - Share Your Steampunk Experiences

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    • MaiAki profile image

      MaiAki 4 years ago

      Cool, just now starting to get into the steam punk culture..although I am a huge fan of cowboy bebop, not so sure if its the same thing...will read some books mentioned here, cool.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 4 years ago

      @Brians Secretary: Statr with well know authers in the steampunk genre like Scott Westerfeld or Cherrie Priest.

      Steampunk sci-fi novels can be a bit of a hit or miss. But in general they are great fun to read.

    • Brians Secretary profile image

      Brians Secretary 4 years ago

      I have never read any steampunk, Never thought of the Sherlock films as steampunk. I have seen pics of people wearing it as cosplay at Comic Con.

      I am going to make a note of a few of these and see if I can pick them up at the used book store in town

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 4 years ago

      @JeffGilbert: your welcome, the steampunk genre is a sci-fi genre with great potential. Besides books, steampunk found it's way to fashion stores and arts as well...

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      Great collection of books. This is a genre that needs more support. Thanks for this lens.

    • egdcltd lm profile image

      egdcltd lm 5 years ago

      I'd thought I hadn't read any steampunk, but I've read books 2-4 in your top 4, plus most/all of H G Wells' stuff. I just hadn't realised that any of it would be classed as steampunk.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I began exploring steampunk after seeing it on fiction blogs. Interesting and a good intro here on your lens.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 5 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Reading Leviathan right now.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @anonymous: That's great,I'm glad that the lens was so helpful for you. The Steampunk Genre is broad and really has a lot to offer. I too still discover new steampunk authors.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i've been looking into this genre, new to me, sort of, and i love it. coming back to this lens periodically for all the book suggestions.

    • colgrym profile image

      colgrym 5 years ago

      Really like your lens, an excellent overview of steampunk and some great book choices, especially for those new to the genre. I've noticed over the last couple of years how the steampunk influence has grown in both literature and film, which as far as I'm concerned is very welcome. My lens of the week this one, thank you.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @LivingLikeCrazy: thank you, Steampunk is a strange genre. Romantic but geeky too in a way.

    • profile image

      LivingLikeCrazy 5 years ago

      I love when things mix. Thanks for the awesome lens.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I haven't read in the genre, only seen the movies and television shows (like Firefly, Copper, etc). I don't have a lot of time for leisure reading these days (full-time student) but I'm sure I would enjoy these books. I'll refer to this when my schedule opens up so I can check out some of your suggestions.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @Tonto Murray: Thanks for your blessings, Steampunk is a genre still alive and in a way quit romantic. "The good ol' days"...traveling with zeppelins and the Siberian Express.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @miaponzo: It's a great genre - mix Sherlock Holmes with Jules Verne and a bit of computing geek stuff. It's amazing what kind of atmosphere you get. bedknobs and broomsticks indeed, but with hidden james-bond like possibilities...

    • RazzbarryBreeze profile image

      RazzbarryBreeze 5 years ago

      Very Interesting lens. This genre is definitely interesting... blessings to you! Have a nice day.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      So interesting.. bedknobs and broomsticks is something that comes to mind :) hahahah... my son is absolutely in love with steampunk! Blessed!

    • Tonto Murray profile image

      Tonto Murray 5 years ago

      Excellent job. Love the genre and the lens. Blessings.

    • profile image

      garthbunse 5 years ago

      You have some great images on here. I knew I loved steampunk but didn't know what it was called. Now I realize that something like Wild, Wild West was a kind of steampunk too. Thanks for sharing/creating your stuff.

    • AnneVis profile image

      AnneVis 5 years ago

      I just recently discovered this, absolutely awesome! Thanks for sharing the info!