It's been a while since we last took a focused look at steampunk. It's time for an update!
In Part 1, we looked at the new book entries that were part of the steampunk series we looked at way back in 2011. We also looked at some short fiction steampunk anthologies for readers to snack on between longer reads. This week, let's take a look at both old and new steampunk titles. In this case, "old" means steampunk works that have been recently reprinted, and "new" refers to some of the books released since mid-2011. These new titles aren't necessarily books by first-time authors, but rather books that were printed since the last article that would be of interest to steampunk fans.
Off we go!
With steampunk seemingly staying in perpetual fashion, it's only natural that publishers want to make sure you recall some past gems of steampunk. Enter the practice of reprinting, by which publishers can revive out-of-print classics and bring them to new audiences. The good news for readers is that those previously hard-to-find gems suddenly become front-and-center on the bookstore shelves.
Case in point: Titan Books is reprinting Michael Moorcock's steampunk trilogy A Nomad of the Time Streams. Comprised of The Warlord of the Air, The Land Leviathan and The Steel Tsar, the trilogy chronicles the adventure of Edwardian-era British Army Captain Oswald Bastable in alternate versions of the 20th century. Titan is also reprinting work by one of steampunk's progenitors, James P. Blaylock; specifically, his classic steampunk series, Langdon St. Ives, and more specifically, with the publication of Homunculus (originally published in 1986) and Lord Kelvin's Machine (from 1992). However, this particular reprinting has more to do with promoting a new outing in that series (see below).
Kim Newman's Anno Dracula, while not strictly steampunk, does taste similar in some ways, though perhaps leaning closer to gaslight fantasy than pure steampunk. The premise of the book (and of the increasingly less steampunk-ish sequels The Bloody Red Baron, Dracula Cha Cha Cha, and the forthcoming Johnny Alucard) is that Bram Stoker's Count Dracula did indeed conquer Great Britain, resulting in a world where vampires are not only common, but are more and more becoming the dominant members in a complacent society.
Finally, fans of Tim Powers can look forward to the 30th anniversary reprint of The Anubis Gates, his steampunk time-travel classic.
New but Traditionally Victorian
Let's turn our attention to relative newcomers in the steampunk subgenre. Many of these newer steampunk books adhere to the traditional steampunk setting of Victorian England, though often there will be some twist or other to add a little spice. Kage Baker's Nell Gwynne's On Land and at Sea, for example, features a team of Victorian-era female superspies who secretly pose as working girls in a high-end brothel. The series A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences (comprised of Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair) by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris features a male and female lead who investigate the outwardly supernatural occupying the streets of Victorian England. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen uses its Victorian setting to retell a story inspired by William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. James P. Blaylock revives his decades-old steampunk adventures of the brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer Langdon St. Ives with The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs and the newly released The Aylesford Skull. (Blaylock also released Zeuglodon last year, a related steampunk "hollow Earth" adventure.) Adhering to Victorian England in sprit, Jonathan Green's steampunk Pax Britannia universe—most recently seen in Time's Arrow—looks a century beyond the Victorian era, where the queen is still on the throne, thanks to advanced steam technology
There's Still More!
In Part 1, we came up to speed with in-progress steampunk series and short fiction. In Part 2, we looked at some old and new steampunk players. Coming in Part 3, we will continue our look at the new steampunk titles available, including a meaty selection of steampunk mash-ups. Tune in for the conclusion of our steampunk update!
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. He also like bagels and the sound of soda fizz.