Best Steampunk Fantasy
What is Steampunk?
Steampunk is a subgenre of sci-fi/fantasy that often juxtaposes the ultramodern with the antique; typically, the stereotypical steampunk features a mishmash of futuristic technology combined with Victorian-age mechanics (airships, gear-based technology, steam-powered technology, etc). While the setting may be futuristic, the cultural mores borrow from the age of the Victorian gentleman. In this setting, there may be some lone visionary eccentric/mad genius as the protagonist – the unrecognized Newton, Charles Babbage, or other inventor-cum-hero type.
The genre originated in the 80s and blends together a number of genres and subgenres, including science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, mystery, and horror. Generally, it incorporates a setting where some form of other power is used to power society – usually steam power or some other power source, like magic. The setting is usually Victorian-era Britain, though it may also be based in the American Wild West or even some post-apocalyptic future setting. The technology used is usually anachronistic technology or some sort of future technology that Victorian-era people might have invented, if not with steam-technology, certainly in design, form, and style. Quite often, there is a Victorian perspective on fashion, art, style, and even morals (ladies act like Victorian ladies in manners and dress, and men follow the same Victorian rules and regulations that guided gentlemen).
While the fantastical clockwork and steam-powered creations may be a common steampunk theme, there may be other styles of steampunk. For example, you may have the juxtaposition of high science with magic or futuristic technology combined with mechanical contraptions. Steampunk may be fantasy-based, science fiction-based, or a blend between both genres. Typically, the inclusion of magic would categorize steampunk as fantasy steampunk, while the inclusion of high technology but no magic would make it science fiction. Do check out our Guide to the Steampunk Genre for more info about this genre and more recommendations.
Steampunk is one of the most interesting subgenres of fantasy and it’s often one of the least explored by authors. Quite often, the fantastical clockwork and steam-powered creations are more visually compelling vision of the future/past than the plasticized circuit-driven technology of the present or distant future that typical sci-fi books explore.
There are a number of great steampunk fantasy works out there, both classic, modern, and futuristic.This list seeks to give you a reading list of the best classic steampunk works and the best modern steampunk.
Books in Oswald Bastable Series (2)
Books in Extraordinary Voyages Series (1)
Books in New Crobuzon Series (2)
Books in The Clockwork Century Series (5)
Books in Ile-rien Series (5)
In creating this world, Powers borrowed ideas from all over the place. Mythology, Ancient Egyptian theology, quantum theory, and classical literature“ they're all used in The Anubis Gates. It's a ridiculous combination of ideas, but it's the reason why this book is so entertaining. Why it made the list It's clear that Powers is an ambitious writer. He has zero qualms about chucking whatever he can into the mix. He doesn't even seem concerned about it making sense. And yet, it does. With the diverse concepts thrown around in the book, the plot is complex. But you'll never feel lost it in. It's a testament to his talent that he's able to create clarity out of chaos. This is also a title that comfortably sits between many genres, without veering too far in any direction. There's just enough humor to keep it entertaining without turning it into a Pratchett-style spectacle. There are enough thrilling moments to keep you entertained without it becoming a (pre-born-again) Anne Rice novel. While the characters in The Anubis Gates aren't the well drawn, the plot is excellent, and unpredictable and will keep you guessing until the end“ where the loose threads are pulled together into a tight “and satisfying“ conclusion.
the rip-roaring adventure of The Anubis Gate, another tale that comes to mind is On Stranger Tides which is another awesome standalone novel by Time Powers (and the source material for the new-upcoming 4th Pirates of the Caribbean movie). You can also give Powers' other novels(all standalone) a shot too. They're always a mix of the fantastic and the tangible with a good dose of (sometimes weird) adventure thrown in. And if you like the whole "mythical elements coming to life" aspect of The Anubis Gate,then read Mythago Wood which is a novel about ancient myths coming to life. Neil Gaiman's American Gods and his excellent Anansi Boys are two other books in which anthropomorphized ancient myths struggle to coexist with modernity.
Books in Tales Of The Ketty Jay Series (3)
Books in Parasol Protectorate Series (4)
Books in Worldshaker Series (1)
Books in The Age Of Unreason Series (3)
A young girl's journey of magic and discovery that will take her to the ends of the earth...and beyond. His Dark Materials is a modern classic that can be enjoyed by old and young alike; This is "Narnia" for the 21st century. It's made my Top 25 best fantasy books list. Like Garth Nix's Abhorson trilogy, these are children's fantasy books that every adult should read.
Books in His Dark Materials Series (2)
Since His Dark Materials is the anti-Chronicles of Narnia, it makes sense that you should read The Chronicles of Narnia . C.S. Lewis' masterpiece Narnia is a classic of the genre. While it's very clearly a Christian allegory, it can be enjoyed without reading too deep into the Christian subtext. The writing is great and it's a great magical adventure for both kids and adults.
I also suggest reading Garth Nix's The Abhorsen Trilogy . Garth Nix is a fabulous writer and Abhorson is a chilling horror fantasy that really sucks you in. It's YA (young adult) but don't let that stop you! Garth Nix's newest series,Keys to the Kingdom , is also a great read, both for the kiddies and adults, one of the better series for kids.
Don't forget to read Jonathan Stroud's very impressive The Bartimaeus Trilogy It's an action packed thrill ride about a magician's apprentice who manages to summon a powerful genie (Bartimaeus). Bartimaeus is less then pleased with this turn of events and tries to sabotage his young master at every opportunity. Hilariously funny, at times very dark, with great writing, a great cast of well-developed characters, and an interesting world, Bartimaeus is a must read series (for both kids and adults).
And finally, Harry Potter. I won't bother explaining why. You might note that each of these YA books can be read by children, but at the same time they are equally entertaining for adults. And every one of the books mentioned starts of pretty lighthearted but becomes quite dark in tone and content. While this may not be great for 6 year old Johnny who is wondering why his hero dies a horrible death, it makes for a more sophisticated plot. The sweet is not as sweet without having the bitter.
If you are specifically looking for books your kid might like, i suggest you visit The Top 10 Fantasy Books for Kids list.
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The Swan's War trilogy seems both similar to, yet different from Lord of the Rings. The mysterious and rare nature of magic is a trait shared by both books, as is the beautiful prose that seems half poetry, half fiction (though Russell's work is more “modern and novelistic”).