- Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and sequel Dreadnought
Sean wrote about Boneshaker in a previous entry so I'll quickly just say that anything with zombies, sky pirates and dirigibles is awesome. Dreadnought is the "sequel" to Boneshaker that focuses on related but totally different characters. And it's INTENSE. Picture a Civil War that has gone on at least 3 times longer than the actual one. Picture a Civil War that is fought with huge mechanical walking machines and crazy scary war trains. Oh, and there are zombies, too. And it centers on a pretty badass nurse lady named Vanita "Mercy" Swakhammer Lynch. A name like that can't steer you wrong!
Aside from all that, Cherie Priest herself is very much awesome. Follow her on Twitter (@cmpriest)!
- Gail Carriger's Soulless, Changeless and Blameless
Vampires, werewolves, parasols, dirigibles and templars. Oh my! TOTALLY up my alley and hopefully yours! These books are easy reads and certainly delightful. They're written in Austin-esque prose and are centered around a saucy lady named Alexia Trabotti who (gasp!) is soulless (called a preternatural). And werewolves are almost always sexy; try Lord Conall Maccon on for size. Nom!
- Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Behemoth
I recently finished reading Leviathan and was pleasantly surprised by it. I shouldn't have been, but I was. It's classified as young adult fiction and I guess that's why I was apprehensive. Why a girl who is so very enamored with other young adult literature (Harry Potter, The Abhorsen Trilogy) was hesitant is beyond me. Needless to say, while I made the mistake of reading Leviathan right after reading Boneshaker making it feel a little slimmer in plot and substance, I quickly shed this feeling and enjoyed it very much. The book takes place in an alternate version of World War I. The "sides" are pretty much the same, but the amazing thing is that the Allies(Entente Powers) and the Central Powers are differentiated by the type of weapons and technology they use. The Entente Powers are known as the Darwinists and use living creatures evolved specifically for war. The Central Powers are know as Clankers who use mechanized war machines. It's fascinating.
(Side note: Westerfeld's sequel, Behemoth was released Oct. 5, 2010, but I have not gotten to it yet. :)
- China Mieville's Bas Lag books
China Mieville is a rather intriguing, English fellow. He's a member of the Socialist Workers Party, with a bachelors degree in social anthropology and a PhD in international relations and a member of the tight knit literary group called New Weird. His Bas-Lag books, therefore, do not disappoint. They're undoubtedly unique and strange. They're not completely steampunk, but they definitely have those elements. They're classified as weird fiction. I read The Scar first. The main action takes place on a man-made flotilla of ships and other sea vehicles called Armada. It has vampires (score 1 for team Chelsea!), icky mosquito people, remade people (with totally inhuman body parts) and other enthralling creatures and characters.
Perdido Street Station is set in the city-state of New Crobuzon, which is not unlike London with the exception that it's built within the bones of a gigantic, extinct beast with a forgotten name. It has a new set of awesome characters (bird people, people with scarab heads, giant dream eating butterflies) and nothing is as it seems it is.
Iron Council is Mieville's most explicitly socialist book. It features a collective of individuals who have fled New Crobuzon in a massive train. The book focuses on the struggles of these individuals and contrasts their socialist beliefs with the anarcho-capitalist beliefs of New Crobuzon
Beware of China Mieville's endings. They're rarely what you expect and he's not necessarily a "and they lived happily ever after" kind of writer. His characters are not good or evil, nice or mean, flawed or perfect. They're complex and incredible.
- S.M. Stirling's Peshwar Lancers
Peshawar Lancers is set on an alternate Earth where an asteroid struck the planet and wiped out most of the population of North America and Europe in the late 19th century. Thanks to the quick work of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, most of England's population survived the disaster, and relocated to India, South Africa and Australia. The book opens several decades later on a world where the British Raj is based in India and technology didn't progress in the same way that it did in our own.
- William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine
The Difference Engine is the big daddy of Steampunk lit. As I'm sure you know, Steampunk developed as a contrast to the sci-fi genre of Cyberpunk which featured dystopian futures where mankind has lost itself in it's own technology. Steampunk features mankind dealing with technology in the past usually the 19th Century- sometime Steampunk is dystopian like it's Cyberpunk predecessor, and sometimes it's anything but. The Difference Engine is written by Bruce Sterling and Cyberpunk demi-god William Gibson. In the story, Charles Babbage actually built his (in our world) theoretical "Difference Engine" and the Information Age started about 150 years early. The world is dark, gritty, and full of fantastic machines and characters.
We're progressing and developing the basis for art projects to come. BEHOLD! Tools for steampunk weddingry: