Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that is usually set in the late 19th or early 20th century. It’s notable for a unique aesthetic featuring clockwork and steam-powered technology. As it has gained popularity, steampunk has begun to include themes ranging from alternate history to time travel and can be set in the near past, the distant future and anywhere in between.
If you want to learn more about steampunk as a genre you can check out the Hub’s steampunk genre guide written up by Colleen Seisser. Carli Spina has you covered if you’re looking for some steampunk comics by female authors. If you’re still not sure where to start, read on for more recommendations.
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff: Sent to capture an arashitora for the Shogun, Yukiko soon finds herself stranded in the wilderness with the creature. This unlikely pair will have to set aside their differences and work together when Yukiko hears of the Shoguns injustices from a secretive man named Kin and the rebel Kage cabal.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2005 Printz Award Honor): Cabin boy Matt and heiress Kate travel the skies via airship searching for elusive winged creatures rumored to live in the clouds.
Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler: Wren McAvoy works as a coal miner in a domed city. After two hundred years, everyone takes life in the dome for granted. The only problem is that the coal is running out. When a friend escapes the dome he is used as a gruesome warning for those who try to challenge the established society. But his last words to Wren–“The sky is blue.”–will set Wren on a path that could change everything.
Leviathanby Scott Westerfeld (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Alek–heir to the clanker Austro-Hungarian Empire–and Deryn–a girl disguising herself as a boy to serve as a Darwinist airman–have to form an uneasy alliance if they hope to stave off the coming World War which begs the question: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them?
As a librarian, I love providing reader’s advisory help to teens with all different interests and preferences. However, I must admit that I especially love helping a fellow fantasy fan discover a new title or author. And as many of our library’s most devoted high school readers remain especially loyal to this genre, I have the opportunity to do this on a regular basis. These voracious readers are constantly looking for new books and they’ve often exhausted the young adult offerings of the moment. And that’s where having a healthy collection of fantasy published for adult fiction market comes in!
The trend of historical fantasy continues to grow in both young adult and adult fiction. These first two titles would be excellent recommendations for teens who favor fantasy and historical fiction or Jane Austen novels.
As the Napoleonic Wars rage abroad, Britain struggles at home as the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers grows increasingly dissatisfied with the newly elected Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe. Although he was raised and trained by his predecessor Sir Stephen, Zacharias’ dark skin and past as a slave have always barred him from gaining true acceptance in society and the continued magical draught provides the perfect excuse for the Society to oust him. But when Zacharias journeys north to inspect the border with Fairyland, he meets Prunella Gentleman, an orphan whose remarkable magical ability might be wasted in a world where women are not permitted to practice magic. Together, Zacharias and Prunella set out on a quest that will alter the state of sorcery in Britain irrevocably.
Shades of Milk & Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
In another magical alternative version of Regency England, gentlewoman Jane Ellsworth and her sister Melody practice delicate glamour magic and circulate through polite society, all for the purpose of making a good marriage. But while Melody’s beauty attracts suitors easily, Jane is 28 years old, unmarried, and possibly more talented at glamour than a lady should be. The arrivals of the wealthy young Mr. Dunkirk and the gruff glamourist Mr. Vincent to the neighborhood set into a series of unforeseen events that will push Jane’s talents and strength to new limits. The Glamourist Histories series continues in several more novels.
If your readers would prefer a gritty steampunk setting to a Regency drawing room, this next title might be the perfect pick–especially if they like a good murder mystery!
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (2016 Alex Award nominee)
In Rapid City, airships buzz through the air as hopeful miners travel through on their way to Alaskan gold fields and steam-powered robots work the waterfront. And at Madame Damnable’s high quality bordello, a young prostitute named Karen Memery is just trying to make her way through this unforgiving world. Then one night, a pair of injured and abused young women end up on their doorstep, on the run from brutal gangster and brothel owner Peter Bantle. In the days that follow, Karen and the other girls at Madame Damnable’s become involved in horrific murder mystery, tracking down a serial killer slaughtering prostitutes around the city.
Today marks Victoria Day (Fête de la Reine), a Canadian national holiday to honor Queen Victoria’s birthday. It’s celebrated on the last Monday before May 25. Much like Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., this long weekend is viewed by many as the official kickoff to summer.
Victoria hasn’t gone unnoticed by today’s authors, either. Here at the Hub, take a moment of this holiday to peruse a few of the titles about this fascinating monarch and her times!
Victoria Rebels, by Carolyn Meyer – In this intriguing installment of the Young Royals series, Meyer’s always well-researched fiction draws directly from Victoria’s journals to reveal her thoughts and dreams from as young as age eight.
The Agency series, by Y.S. Lee – There are plenty of teen books set in the Victorian era, such as this series about a girls’ academy that is actually a cover for an all-female detective agency. In book 3, however, Queen Victoria herself plays a part, when she hires protagonist Mary Quinn to investigate recent thefts at Buckingham Palace. Continue reading Celebrate Victoria Day with YA Lit!
This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list! After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best. If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here. It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.
We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.
2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten
ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.
The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive. Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2013. 9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.
In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands. Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures. Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)
Steampunk, believe it or not, is a term that has been round since the late 1980s. It is usually defined as a sub-genre of science fiction and features a late 19th century or early 20th century setting, but with steam-powered and clockwork inventions and machines. Steampunk can also be identified as a sub-genre of speculative fiction and is often described as alternate history. Most steampunk novels are set in Victorian England or America, but are also known to be set in the Wild West of America.
Steampunk is often characterized by the setting of the story and inventions that are fantastical and magical. Steampunk uses a lot of visual descriptions, especially when it comes to the machinery and fashion. Oftentimes, a lot of description will go into how a machine works. Supernatural elements are typically included in a steampunk story. Steampunk plots are adventure-driven stories, where machines play the part of moving the adventure along. Since there is so much action packed into most steampunk novels, the pacing is usually fast.
The characters of steampunk novels are quirky and include inventors, mad scientists, or the like. Characters in steampunk novels also take on the punk mentality. Usually the main character or characters is individualistic often goes against the mainstream, and he or she may be fighting for a cause or movement. Many times the plot of a steampunk novel involves good vs. evil, where the good guys and bad guys are clearly defined. Continue reading Genre Guide: Steampunk for Teens