I’m about to launch my first e-books, a steampunk short called Mud and Brass and a collection of my previously published steampunk shorts titled Riding the Mainspring. Those of you on my book mailing list will receive a free copy of Mud and Brass on Monday, and anyone else who’s interested has until the end of the weekend to sign up and get the free story. I am very excited, and more than a little tense.

In the meantime, and to celebrate the occasion, here’s a list of some of my favourite steampunk things…

That really is quite a different engine

That really is quite a different engine

Favourite steampunk book

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling was the first steampunk book I ever heard of. I was fascinated by this transformation of Victorian history. From steam powered computers to aerodynamics inspired by dinosaurs to battles in the smog, this sold me on steampunk.

There's nothing gentle about that boat

There’s nothing gentle about that boat

Favourite steampunk comic

The second volume of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was still coming out when I first got into comics. While the first volume of League is great, this is the one that really excites me. Featuring icons from my childhood such as John Carter’s Mars, Rupert the Bear and H G Wells’s alien invaders, this is an incredibly vivid, incredibly exciting, and incredibly warped tale. The detail of O’Neill’s art is extraordinary, and this is some of Moore’s finest writing.


Favourite steampunk music

My friend Will is part of Pocketwatch, a great steampunk band. But before they were Pocketwatch they took part in The Clockwork Quartet. The Quartet‘s gig that I saw in London was fantastic. The whole room was decked out in steampunk style. Half the audience was in costume. The bar served espresso and absinthe. The show featured a sword fight, a dancing conductor and a virtual orchestra of performers, far more than the four of a traditional quartet. I love Pocketwatch, but that Clockwork Quartet performance is one of the best gigs I have ever been to, and I love my souvenir CD.

Oh the adventures we have seen, this hat and I

Oh the adventures we have seen, this hat and I

Favourite steampunk event and costume

I was privileged for a few years to be part of a small steampunk live roleplay group called The Company of Crimson, in which I played the valet Jackson. Thanks to a player’s family connection we once played an event at Skipton Castle in Yorkshire, during which we stormed the castle on Sunday morning, leading to a gunfight in the back garden. I roamed the grounds serving tea and bullets, while Rasputin and his evil minions leapt out at us from the undergrowth.

It was a fantastic experience, and my bowler hat, which saw occasional use by Jackson, remains one of my all time favourite pieces of costume.

What are your favourites?

Those of you who dabble in steampunk or alternate history, what are your favourite examples?

And remember, if you sign up for my mailing list by the end of the weekend you can get that free e-book on Monday.

  1. Sue Archer says:

    I quite enjoyed Gail Carriger’s series The Parasol Protectorate. I’ll have to check out The Difference Engine, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. glenatron says:

    I liked things about the difference engine, but it kept almost being really interesting then not quite doing so. The first ones I read were the Michael Moorcock stories about Oswald Bastable ( way before Steampunk was invented, but certainly fitting into the genre ) which are probably my favourite of his books.

    People I like keep publishing ebooks. I guess I’ll need one of those new-fangled readers at some point. Or a big printer or something.

    • You’ve got a smartphone, right? There’s an app for everything, and that includes e-reading.

      I think my love of The Difference Engine is partly coloured by it being my first steampunk. It’s like I have a fondness for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, because flawed as it was as a system it was the first time I got to role dice and imagine slaying monsters.

  3. 21stcenturyvictorian says:

    I’m so envious that you got to recreate Skipton Castle in that way – that must have been the most amazing experience! It’s not out yet, so of course it can’t count as a favourite, but I’m actually really looking forward to the video game “The Order: 1886.” It’s supposedly a steampunk King Arthur story.

    • That game does sound intriguing. The last game I got really engaged in was Fallout: New Vegas, and I haven’t yet seen anything with such a rich and distinctive setting. Will keep an eye out for when that comes out.

      The Skipton Castle experience was amazing – one of those things where I was really lucky to know the right people at the right time.

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