So I was taking one of those ubiquitous quizzes on Facebook. This one was “What kind of Science Fiction reader are you?” I thought that sounded like a pretty cool quiz. But I was quite surprised by the results. It suggested “Steampunk.” I’d never even heard of steampunk.
Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine); these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality.
I love alternate history/historical fantasy, so I said, “Okay. I’ll bite.” and ordered a few of the books on the list. I had already read ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,’ thought the idea was fascinating (though the book itself left much to be desired).
The first two to come in were Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (William Gibson’s The Difference Engine is awaiting me at the library).
Now I’ve run out of time to do really in-depth reviews (books are due today), but I must say I did enjoy them.
Howl’s Moving Castle is more like fantasy than science fiction to my way of thinking, and the sequel House of Many Ways is the same. But they’re both delightful reads, well-written and funny, for kids and adults. I especially like Sophie đź™‚
The Diamond Age (or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer) was fascinating. I’m not sure I liked the book, as in the characters (except Nell) or plot or ending, but the writing was superb and the world-building incredible. I’d recommend it for older readers, mostly because of the Drummers and their ‘Wet Net’, which are very sexual in nature.