Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is historical science fiction. It doesn’t have to be romance, but the case of THE IRON DUKE, reviewed in today's blog, it is. Think of it as historical romance with a twist, where both the culture and technology are different than the era. The advanced technology is usually steam-based (think steam engines and locomotives), and can be combined with various forms of Victorian-era technology and science; airships and clockwork-powered automatons are common. The machines can be small, like singing mechanical birds, or include giant robots. In the case of Meljean Brook’s romance, the technology includes “nano” size—down to individual atoms.

Steampunk takes you back 200 years and speculates what the Victorian era might look like if science and technology in the Regency period advanced in a different manner.

My earliest exposure to Steampunk romance, really a precursor to today’s books, was Penelope Williamson’s HEARTS BEGUILED, where the hero was a scientist working on a fuel for his airship in the 18th century. It was a good story, too, and for more traditional historical romance fans, it might be the place to begin.

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