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Author Topic: New to steampunk, what to read first?  (Read 2203 times)
George Salt
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« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2013, 10:51:28 pm »

Do you want to read about steampunk, or do you want to read around steampunk and get a feel for the period of the genre as well as it's more obvious tales?

I can think of a couple of books I would consider as steampunk without being steampunk, that is they focus on the correct historical time period, give a great sense of atmosphere and are damn fine stories.

The most obvious one being The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.

And if The Difference Engine is anything, it's not cyberpunk with Babbage, it's The Secret Agent with cogs.  Just don't expect a happy and uplifting story with Conrad.
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caramelwhistle
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« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2013, 11:43:53 pm »

Pick up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel vol. 1 from your book store or comic shop. Do not rent the film.

I liked the film. (I'm not saying it's one of my favourites, just that I liked it.)
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RJBowman
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« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2013, 01:25:05 am »

I might have enjoyed it more if I didn't have the experience of the books for comparison.
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OsirisFrame
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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2013, 12:46:37 pm »

What, four entries and no one's mention The Difference Engine?...Wink Gibson and Stirling, IIRC...Wink This should be a FAQ...Wink

I'm new to Steampunk and have just finished "The Difference Engine' as it is regarded as an essential read by many.

For me it's a bit of a mixed bag. The sense of period is very good, but there's a lot of book for very little plot IMHO. Some of the descriptions are overly detailed and the chopping and changing of protagonists is frustrating. It also feels that the authors got so far in the book and then tagged on bits and bobs to try to complete the story. This last change in writing style is quite jarring and totally unsatisfying for the reader who has persevered with the book. All of these elements mean that the flow of the book is poor.

The blurb on the back of my copy of the book (UK Gollancz) infers a greater role for Ada Byron (Lovelace) than actually occurs. The plot also wanders down the odd cul-de-sac, with sequences which don't seem to have much bearing on the main plot, while other elements connected to the main plot remain unresolved.

I also felt at a bit of a disadvantage by not knowing a great deal about the political world of early 19th century Britain, as many of the events and characters are inspired by this era. I have an issue with novels which expect a certain amount of foreknowledge in order to be successful.

I won't say I hated the book as many parts were very good, but for me it was a short story or novella that has been inflated to a full-size novel. I guess the steampunk genre has grown a great deal since this book was written, so I found it disappointing on that level due to preconceptions on the content. However, as a reader of wider sci-fi, I also found it unsatisfying as a book in its own right.

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Argus Fairbrass
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« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2013, 06:46:30 am »

I really like The Difference Engine, but I wouldn't disagree with you. In some ways the method of it's story telling reminds me of Shardik by Richard Adams. Because it's a fairly complex and convoluted story, that ends up telling a very simple one. In Shardik's case it's the story of a tribal peoples ascent from superstition into a state of enlightment. That allows them to finally deal with the rest of the world which has largely advanced without them. In order for that to be most effective, the story has to be complex and slightly confusing. In the end you step back and see the big picture, whereas everything previously has had you focusing in on rather minute details.

What I took from The Difference Engine personally, is that ultimately it's a warning about the dangers of the information age. Stating basically that advanced technology can be turned by unscrupulous governments on to it's own people. The seemingly random descriptions of those daguerreotypes for example, taken by the engines cameras, are an antiquated reference to modern CCTV.

It actually inspired me to do a lot of historical research in areas I was vague on (Colonel Sam Houston and Captain Swing being two examples). But I think good Steampunk work should do that. I'm no history buff by any means, and I certainly don't know everything, so I do enjoy being pointed in (what are to me) new and interesting directions.

Truly it is Cyberpunk set in the Victorian era, which to my mind makes it quintessentially Steampunk. But I know some folks don't agree (perhaps it doesn't feature enough dirigibles).  Roll Eyes
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 06:49:37 am by Argus Fairbrass » Logged

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gavinfuzzy
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« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2013, 04:33:44 pm »

It's funny actually, but rarely do I hear people mention G.D.Falksen in this type of conversation. The guy seems to be better known for just being around for ages than actually being an author.

I must confess I haven't read any of his books, although plenty of his web logs and what have you.

Still there you go for future reference.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4011131.G_D_Falksen


I read "Blood in The Skies" it was pretty good, but it also went by pretty fast. It appears to be the 1st of a 3 parter? But at times it felt like someone took a complete story and chopped it into 3 parts, which left it lacking in some areas.

I also recommend The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. It's set in that era, and had quite a few steampunky contraptions. The story is also really good, loved the 2nd book. Almost like Sherlock meets steampunk.
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Maxwell B. Cooper
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« Reply #31 on: April 16, 2013, 09:34:58 am »

My first taste of Steampunk literature was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. While I found the story rather slow in places, I enjoyed it sufficiently to begin reading his other stories.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2013, 02:06:39 pm by Maxwell B. Cooper » Logged

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Gaijin_King
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« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2013, 11:32:14 pm »

Has anyone read Washington's Dirigible by John Barnes? I recently picked it up at an antiques store for almost nothing. In it, the protagonist travels to a timeline where steam power was introduced a century early in order to create a technological level needed to fight bad guys from a bunch of other timelines.
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