Steampunk Fiction and the Women Who Write It
Lately, I’ve been exploring my predilection for all things “steampunk.” What is it about books like Perdido Street Station, shows like Battlestar Gallactica and Revolution, and sculptures made out of recycled metal and archaic technology, that excite and inspire me? Why do I swoon every time I watch the “Time’s Arrow” ST:TNG episode in which Data, in his 19th-century getup, builds a 24th-century machine out of the materials at hand? I just LOVE that stuff, like I love those computers that look so very “Victorian” but happen to have a screen and an internet connection.
So I started reading around about the beginnings of literary steampunk and came across a whole bunch of guys but not very many women. So of course I asked my Riot colleagues and bookish twitter people who their favorite steampunk-writin’ women were, and they came back at me with a TON of names. So here are ten women whose steampunk fiction is burning up the book world. Enjoy, and prepare to see your TBR list grow by miles.
To quote from Archer’s website: “From historical paranormal adventure, to steampunk, to sci-fi, to historical romance, Zoë writes confident heroines and sexy heroes in waistcoats and tall boots.” Can we say eclectic? Her steampunk series, The Ether Chronicles, follows Captain Christopher Redmond, part-man, part-machine, constructed by the British Navy to protect the homeland. But there’s this woman who’s also a spy, and they have a history…and now Redmond and Louisa Shaw must work together. Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series is set in an alternate world in which Europeans and Africans have escaped to the Americas in the face of an “oncoming Mongol Horde.” You’ve got yer Zombies, yer megalodons, yer kraken, and of course yer nanotech and pirates and airships. Why steampunk romance? According to Brook, “A steampunk setting provides plenty of external conflict, and the opportunity for the kind of adventure that I love writing and reading. But more importantly, the romantic conflict echoes everything I enjoy about steampunk.” Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
According to her website, Carriger’s fiction is best described as “urbane fantasy” mixed with “steampunk comedies of manners.” Carriger’s series include Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol (out in 2015), and the YA Finishing School books. Here’s how she describes the Parasol series: “Imagine Jane Austen dabbling in science and steam technology. Then imagine P.G. Wodehouse suddenly dropped vampires into the Drones Club. [These] books are the resulting progeny.” **swoons** Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
Cato’s debut steampunk novel, The Clockwork Dagger (out September 16), is a combination of mystery and adventure, with characters who remember their etiquette. The Clockwork Crown, the sequel, comes out in 2015. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Nature. An extensive list of her many stories, poems, podcast appearances, articles, and more can be found on her website. Find Beth here: Website, Twitter.
Cooper is the author of, as she puts it, “dark and sexy paranormal romances, steampunk adventures, [and] crossover urban fantasy,” and tends to write “across multiple genres with mad glee.” Her steampunk series, The St. Croix Chronicles, tells the story of an heiress-turned-bounty-hunter-and-also-opium-addict whose adventures take her across the urban-fantasy landscape of Victorian London. Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
Delilah S. Dawson
Dawson writes for both teen and adult audiences and is a self-described “writer, geek, artist, adventure junky, and coffee and cupcake connoisseur.” Her vampire/steampunk Blud novels (Wicked As They Come, Wicked As She Wants, Wicked After Midnight) chronicle the adventures of Criminy Stain in a world of fanged bunnies, clockwork machinery, and Victorian fashion.Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
Lyn/Brittan is known for her paranormal, sci-fi, and steampunk romances (writing as Brittan) and her urban fantasy, fantasy, and new and young adult fiction (as Lyn). Her Balloc Manor steampunk-romance novellas chronicle the adventures of the Balloc descendants as they battle air pirates and mechanized warrior armies. The Clocks of London, a standalone steampunk romance, follows two private investigators in an alternate “Water London.” Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
A writer of steampunk and paranormal fiction, Priest has won and been nominated for several awards. Boneshaker, her best-known novel, was nominated for a Nebula and Hugo, and won the PNBA Award and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Set in an alternate U.S. during the Civil War, Bokeshaker features “ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees” formerly searching for gold in the Pacific Northwest and trapped by an experiment gone wrong. Other novels include Four and Twenty Blackbirds (2005), Ganymede (2011), and Maplecroft (2014). Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
P. J. Schnyder
Schnyder is at home in many genres, including steampunk, paranormal romance, science fiction, and urban fantasy. Her steampunk fiction includes A Swan in Siam (Parsec Award 2013 winner, included in Tales from the Archives Vol.2: the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences) and A Fate Core RPG (The Ministry Initiative: Role Playing in The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, with J. R. Blackwell). Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
Born in Moscow, Sedia eventually moved to the U.S to get her Ph.D; she currently teaches botany and plant ecology at a liberal arts college in New Jersey. As a writer of fantasy, urban fantasy, and steampunk, she has won/been nominated for several awards, including the World Fantasy Award for Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy. One of Sedia’s best-known works, The Alchemy of Stone, tells the story of an intelligent automaton named Mattie who must navigate the dangerous world of gargoyles, Mechanics, and Alchemists as they battle for power. Find her here: Website, Twitter, Facebook.
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