What Is Steampunk? (13) (More Steampunk+)

I’ve been reading (and writing) more steampunk.  Here are three more examples of not-quite-straight-up-Vernesian steampunk.

Larklight and sequels, by Philip Reeve, are steampunk space opera for middle readers.  This series has the Whimsy cranked to 11.  Britannia rules the aether in the nineteenth century, and the kid protagonists, their father, their four and a half billion year old space alien mother and the boy pirate Jack Havock defend the Empire’s interests against aliens, uppity Americans and the dastardly French.

The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers, is not Vernes-techy at all, but is one of the books about which Jeter originally coined the word steampunk.  It’s a time travel story (and a great one), set principally in nineteenth century England (though action also roams to Greece and Egypt and back, and into the seventeenth century for a bit), with a little sci-fi technology and a lot of cool magic.

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson, is cyberpunk in its technology and a little post-cyberpunk in its general feel (it isn’t depressing like cyberpunk tends to be), but one of the many clans into which humanity has divided itself in this vision of the future is the Neo-Victorians, or Vickies, who have deliberately adopted the aesthetics (robot horses, top hats) and mores of the original Victorians to take themselves out of the nihilistic morass of multiculturalism.  This is particularly interesting read in the light of Jeter’s essay in the Angry Robot reprint of Infernal Devices.

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