The best steampunk books 📚

Browse the best books on steampunk as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Half-Made World

The Half-Made World

By Felix Gilman

Why this book?

Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World is a brilliant steampunk allegory about what philosopher Jürgen Habermas calls the colonization of the life-world for a faithless utilitarian reason. Gilman imagines a war that pits defenders of wonder, magic, and voodoo against soulless drones seeking gain through environmental degradation. This is a common enough trope in science fiction but what brings it to another level is Gilman’s personification of wonder and magic in a sleazy, violent anti-hero who is frequently possessed by demons. Gilman embodies the colonizers of the world as monstrous, dragon-like railway engines who order men around using telegrams. The innocent…

From the list:

The best speculative fiction by people who know their history

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Book cover of The Binding Tempest

The Binding Tempest

By Steven Rudy

Why this book?

I was hooked from page one and finished reading the book in just a few days. Although this is a complicated story, the description was vivid and clear. The plot was fast-paced and full of actions that will keep you on the edge of your seat most of the time.

From the list:

The best debut young adult books fantasy/science-fiction

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Book cover of The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

By Neal Stephenson

Why this book?

As one of the founding fathers of Nanopunk, Neal Stephenson’s writings form a straightforward bridge between Postcyberpunk and Neon Science-Fiction. His novel is a collection of exotic technologies like matter compilers, smart paper, immunity-enhancing particles, and foldable transportable mech-horses. Eventually, I found myself inspired to create exotic tech of my own (e.g. foods, arts, weapons, and technologies fully based on “Dark”, an unconstructed area of “empty space” featured somewhat heavily in my neon sci-fi novel). Stephenson’s novel also depicts an extremely globalized future, founded on molecular nanotech, rapidly assembled usable goods, and socio-cultural division. The title’s allusion to a “Diamond…

From the list:

The best books that inspired neon science-fiction

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Book cover of Soulless

Soulless

By Gail Carriger

Why this book?

For me, this book is a combination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jane Austen. It’s a wickedly funny steampunk romance between Lord Maccon, a captain of Scotland Yard, and Alexia, a spinster hell-bent on interfering in his latest investigation. Someone is illegally creating new vampires, and as Alexia’s involvement puts her in danger, Lord Maccon is obliged to work with her rather than continue the futile endeavor of working against her. The pair’s witty sparing is as sizzling as their chemistry, and the murder mystery element kept me on my toes! This novel was a joy to read, cover…

From the list:

The best sci-fi books that will melt your heart

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Book cover of The Golden Owl

The Golden Owl

By Lana Axe

Why this book?

Readers who like cat protagonists, steampunk, or both, will love Calico Cogg, the main protagonist of this story. I liked the spunky little cat from the moment I met her, and did not want to put this story down. Clever Calico Cogg began life as an ordinary cat but after she was saved from the streets of Ticswyk, a city in an exciting steampunk world, by Lionel Cogg, a kindly inventor, he enhances her with implants that make her stronger and more agile than a regular cat. I found her talents as impressive as her audience did at the beginning…

From the list:

The best books with lovable animal characters

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Book cover of The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments

By Arthur Slade

Why this book?

This was my very first read in the Steampunk genre. 

What a great book and series this is. 

As a baby, Modo is purchased from a travelling gypsy by a well-to-do aristocrat, the mysterious Mr. Socrates. Modo is hideously ugly. Mr. Socrates raises and educates Modo in proper English and manners and fight craft. He lives his life tucked away in a manor, hiding his face from society. 

One day, on a rare carriage ride through London, a grown Modo is abandoned in the streets by Mr. Socrates and has to fend for himself. He becomes a detective, yet he…

From the list:

The best fantasy & steampunk books with wildly worldly invention, highly questionable morals, & supreme ideas

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