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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Guest Post - The Steampunk Renaissance

KBR warmly welcomes author Michael Pryor with his take on the Steampunk Renaissance. What is Steampunk, you ask? Well, it's a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, featuring elements of fantasy. It came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Those of you who are just becoming aware of the marvellous delights of Steampunk might be surprised to learn that it’s been around for some time.

And I don’t mean Jules Verne and HG Wells either, for they aren’t Steampunk. They’re the ancestors and inspirations for Steampunk and revered for it.

True Steampunk can really be said to begin in the early 1980s. Three friends – Tim Powers, James Blaylock and KW Jeter – decided to write in this mode and thereby both defined and kicked off the genre.

Despite their wonderful work, however, Steampunk really remained a minority interest, unknown to most people until quite recently. Some superb books were written in this period – Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age – but it has only been in the last four or five years that Steampunk has broken out and hit the big time.

Wherever you turn now, you bump into Steampunk – in books, in movies, in fashion – but this is the second flowering of Steampunk. It’s been sleeping for thirty years, but now it’s awake.

This is why I say we are now living in the Steampunk Renaissance. Long may it thrive!

This is my list of Essential Steampunk Reading, for those who want to know where this recent Steampunk boom originated.

A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! – Harry Harrison
The Warlord of the Air – Michael Moorcock
The Anubis Gates – Tim Powers
Morlock Night – KW Jeter
Homunculus – James Blaylock
The Difference Engine – William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Anno Dracula – Kim Newman
Queen Victoria’s Bomb – Ronald W Clark
The Steampunk Trilogy – Paul Di Filippo
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

Michael Pryor's latest book Time of Trial is out now. See more at www.michaelpryor.com.au.

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