Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Steampunk Debate

There seems to have been something of a revival of the steampunk genre over the last few years, driven, it seems, not so much by literary endeavours as other media altogether, from computer games (think Bioshock) and comic books (Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Stickleback in 2000AD), to film (Hellboy II has some fantastic steampunk elements to it, specifically the Golden Army itself).

This has provoked some discussion in certain literary circles as to whether, bizarrely, steampunk has had its day. Now looking at the list of releases from the last two years or so I would have to argue that the genre has never been more popular! In children's fiction you have Stewart & Riddell's Barnaby Grimes: The Curse of the Nightwolf and Catherine Webb's Adventures of Horatio Lyle, and of course Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, while in adult fiction there have been a number of reinventions of the Victorian world giving the Age of Steam an extra technological dimension, or fantasy creations that owe just as much to that period of British History.

There have been Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air and The Kingdom Beneath the Waves, the books of China Mieville, and of course a whole new steampunk world as revealed through the books of Abaddon's Pax Britannia series. And now we have two forthcoming anthologies of steampunk short fiction, one from Tachyon edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer, and Extraordinary Engines to be published by Solaris this October.

So, to my mind, the steampunk genre has never been healthier.

And if you're desperate to find out what happens to Ulysses Quicksilver and his faithful manservant next, Human Nature is out this December from Abaddon, while next spring the fifth Pax Britannia novel will be published, entitled Evolution Expects. I know that I, for one, can't wait!

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