As my friend and fellow blogger observed not long ago, “steam is so hot right now.” This year has seen a mind-boggling number of steampunk-themed events in the northeast alone: International Steampunk City, which took over the town of Waltham for a weekend; a book tour for The Steampunk Bible; an exhibit on steampunk aesthetic , form, and function at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation; The Steampunk World’s Fair three-day festival in New Jersey… Whew! And the events just keep on coming, with next week’s performance of Valve: Antique Vaudeville Circus and the Museum of Industry’s ongoing Steampunk Calendar. Entranced by the wide, imaginative (or should I say “re-imaginative”?) world of steampunk, I recently read two short story collections that explore the ever-expanding boundaries of the genre.
In editor Trisha Telep’s collection Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances (Running Press, May), authors such as Caitlin Kittredge, Dia Reeves, Kiersten White, and Adrienne Kress write the steamier side of steampunk, where “technomagical and natural desires collide.” This naturally means lots of flirting and first kisses (with gorgeous automatons or gentlemen criminals, aboard airships, or after narrowly escaping mad inventors); it also entails deeper ethical concerns about technology, progress, and humanity’s impact on nature. Don’t miss contributor Dru Pagliassotti’s excellent essay “How Do I Write a Steampunk Story?” at Steamed!.
Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant (Candlewick, October) goes even further in expanding the steampunk oeuvre—but you’ll have to wait for the September/October issue of The Horn Book Magazine to read my review. In the meantime, pilot your airship over to the website for our list of recommended steampunk-inspired reads.