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Steampunk FAQ

All About Steampunk and Teens

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cover art of the steampunk teen novel Leviathan
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What in the world is steampunk? Here you will find answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions about this literary genre.

What is steampunk?

Steampunk is a type of science fiction and fantasy writing. Two key features of steampunk fiction are a Victorian or alternate reality setting and futuristic inventions powered by steam, gears, and clockwork parts. Steampunk fiction writers encourage readers to re-imagine how technology and machines might have changed history.

Where did the term steampunk come from?

The word steampunk became popular in the 1980s when science fiction writers James Blaylock, Tim Powers, and K.W. Jeter began writing fantasy stories about Victorian London and steam powered inventions. When asked to describe this new type of writing Jeter responded that it should be called something appropriate to the technology of the era like “steampunks”. (from a letter written to Locus magazine April 1987) The name for a new genre of writing was born.

Why do teens like to read steampunk?

Steampunk mixes science fiction, fantasy and technology and creates a very appealing story for today’s teen. Born into a world of technology and constant advancement in invention, it’s not surprising that teens enjoy reading stories with a retro futuristic theme.

What are some examples of Young Adult steampunk books and authors?

Award winning authors Scott Westerfeld and Cassandra Clare are just two of the many young adult writers who have written steampunk novels. Westerfeld’s Leviathan (compare prices) is set in the alternate reality of World War I where two teens who are supposed to be enemies cross paths and find themselves sailing on the airship Leviathan.  In A Clockwork Angel (compare prices), the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series, teens known as Shadowhunters police the underworld of Victorian London with unusual mechanical gadgets. For more recommended titles, see Steampunk Books for Teens.

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