The release of my latest book, Sieges and Silverware, together with a conversation at FantasyCon, got me thinking about new topics for steampunk. The bits of 19th-century history I haven’t seen mined by the genre, but would like to see. Things I might even get to myself one day. So in no particular order, here are seven things I’d like to see more of in steampunk…
- Factory life, not as a passing bit of background but as something central to the story. After all, factories were a huge part of the industrial revolution. I’ve seen this done a bit in Kate Elliot’s fantasy/steampunk work, so there’s at least some out there.
- The birth of nationalism, which emerged in its modern form in the 19th century. The reasons people were drawn to it are interesting, as are those early nationalist movements. More Guiseppe Garibaldi please.
- Speaking of romantic revolutionaries, how about some steampunk inspired by Latin America, with its struggles for freedom and identity?
- Colonialism. It was a huge part of what made the industrial revolution possible, but we usually ignore it in steampunk. There are some tense, complex stories to be told about those dark times.
- Back in Europe, there’s the rise of working-class protest movements, like the Chartists and the trade unions. It’s a rich well of drama and unlikely heroes.
- Getting wackier, I’d like to see worlds where some of the really weird Victorian science is true. It could be tricky to do without creating something unpleasant, but ideas like phrenology could create very different worlds if carried to their logical conclusion.
- Life at sea. International voyages took a very long time. Many of the people taking them were going to create new lives abroad. People stuck together for a voyage like that, on a steampunk ship, could create great drama as cabin fever kicks in.
Which of those would you be excited to read about? What unusual Victorian possibilities have I missed? Have you already found stories like these out there? Leave a comment, maybe it’ll inspire me to write something new.
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And don’t forget, the latest Epiphany Club novella, Sieges and Silverwear, is out now:
In the face of war and betrayal, adventurer Dirk Dynamo is still looking for the clues that will take him to the lost Great Library of Alexandria. Arriving at an isolated German castle, he finds his life threatened not just by the enemies prowling its corridors but by an army laying siege outside the walls. Surrounded by traitors, monsters and falling artillery shells, can Dirk escape with his life and with the artefacts he needs, or will he be one more casualty of a nation being born in iron and blood?
The fourth story in the Epiphany Club series, Sieges and Silverware sees Dirk face the consequences of events in Paris and the betrayal he suffered there. No longer just looking for treasure, he must also find a way to mend a broken heart.