Subscribe to The Horn Book

All steamed up

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.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.



  1. Ann Downer-Hazell says:

    >Are these squarely 14 and up? I have an 11 year old steampunk fanatic franctic for more reading matter.

  2. >Ann, the books in the intermediate (grades 4-6) section would all be great for this age.

    I think The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and the Flora Segunda books (listed in the 7th grade and up section) and Sky Sailors (in the nonfiction) would work well too.

    Let us know how it goes!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.


  1. […] Click here for more recommended steampunk. /* Filed Under: Out of the Box, Reviews Tagged With: novelty books, steampunk About Siân GaetanoSiân Gaetano is an editorial intern at The Horn Book and a Simmons College MA student in Children's Literature. […]

Speak Your Mind