Steampunk books & authors library

Discover 20 Visionary Steampunk Novels That Blend Past and Future

Brace Yourselves, Adventurers! 20 Steampunk Novels to Ignite Your Imagination

Ahoy, fellow explorers of the untrodden literary paths! Today, we're embarking on an expedition through the imaginative worlds of steampunk fiction. This delightfully eccentric genre fuses the romantic elegance of the Victorian era with mind-bending futuristic concepts and technology. The resulting combustion forges entire alternate realms brimming with clockwork marvels, airborne gallantry, and robot-filled shenanigans that would make even the stuffiest industrialist's monocle pop clean off. To guide you through these uncharted territories, I've assembled a carefully curated anthology of 20 quintessential steampunk novels. From the pioneering classics that first sparked the genre's engines to contemporary adventures still hot off the printing press, these stories are guaranteed to stoke your curiosity to its max capacity. Tighten your brass goggles and let's delve in, shall we?

1. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

We're diving right in with one of speculative fiction's true godfathers - Jules Verne's iconic underwater romp that follows the enigmatic Captain Nemo aboard his impossibly advanced submarine, the Nautilus. Join this daring crew as they encounter technologies and tentacled sea beasts so far ahead of their era, Victorian-era readers likely passed out from overwhelming awe and/or seasickness.

2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Speaking of the classics, we can't neglect H.G. Wells' era-defining journey across the centuries to witness the troubling devolution of humanity itself. As the Time Traveller confronts the gentle Eloi and brutish Morlocks, you'll be glued to the pages by both sci-fi thrills and Wells' haunting admonitions about the dangers of technological progress gone awry.

3. The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling

Hailed as one of the masterworks that solidified steampunk as a full-fledged genre, this mind-bending alt-history from sci-fi legends William Gibson and Bruce Sterling envisions an 1855 where Charles Babbage's mechanical computers ended up radically reshaping the world. Brace yourself for a whirlwind tale of technological intrigue and culture-shaking consequences.

4. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

When zombie-creating poisonous gas consumes an alternate reality Seattle, daring adventurer Briar Wilkes does what any self-respecting daughter would - she dons her toughest steampunk gear and plunges headfirst into the walled-off city's zombie wastelands to clear her family's name. Thrills, chills, and a generous dose of innovative tech await!

5. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Though technically filed under "epic fantasy," Pullman's beloved tale of heroine Lyra Belacqua's interdimensional escapades has all the hallmarks of a grade-A steampunk yarn. From outrageous gadgetry to utterly unique alt-world settings, this book will likely convert you into a lifelong steampunk devotee.

6. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

This award-winning mind-trip of a novel will transport you to the wildly imaginative world of New Crobuzon - a sprawling, Dickensian metropolis where mad scientists, human-animal hybrids, and indescribable interdimensional horrors lurk around every smog-choked corner. Miéville's knack for vividly bizarre worldbuilding is unmatched.

7. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

In a fog-enshrouded alt-London plagued by zombie uprisings and suspicious airship mishaps, only crime-fighting dream team Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes can unravel the chilling mystery. Part Sherlock Holmes thriller, part steampunk extravaganza - this book has more clockwork marvels than Queen Victoria's castle.

8. Soulless by Gail Carriger

For readers who crave supernatural silliness with their steampunk adventures, Carriger's tale of the delightfully unflappable Alexia Tarabotti is sure to delight. Armed only with a parasol and keen wit, Alexia must negotiate a paranormal Victorian London rife with mischievous vampires and tempting romantic interests.

9. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

Loosely inspired by Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare, Rosen's story follows the intrepid Violet Adams as she disguises herself as a man to gain admittance to Illyria College - a premier school of science and engineering. Of course, her carefully concealed double life is constantly imperiled by the era's airtight gender conventions. It's a journey as hilarious as it is heartfelt.

10. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Welcome to a rich, Japanese-inspired steampunk realm where nature has been ravaged and a brave heroine named Yukiko is born with the power to communicate with those few beasts that remain. Her quest to summon the near-mythical Thunder Tiger and heal the land will immerse you in an epic world of sacrifice, awe-inspiring tech, and rip-roaring action.

11. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Clankers versus Darwinists - it's World War I like you've never witnessed before. In Westerfeld's alt-1914, the Central Powers rely on diesel-powered machine artillery while the Allied powers employ genetically engineered biological monstrosities. Following the intertwined stories of Prince Alek and "Dylan" (a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service), Leviathan is steampunk's answer to classic military fiction.

12. The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

With a copper mechanical heart ticking away in her chest, young Octavia Leander embarks on an epic journey into a war-torn land guided by her trusty Caskentian compass. But an insidious conspiracy lurks, threatening to consume the world in darkness. Only Octavia's courage, magical abilities, and killer clockwork accessories can prevent all-out devastation.

13. The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

From the imagination of beloved fantasy author Jim Butcher comes a swashbuckling steampunk adventure set in a world of airborne Spire Cities and high-flying ship-to-ship skirmishes. When an ancient threat arises, only heroic airship captain Grimm and his ragtag crew can intervene and - oh yeah - prevent the apocalypse in the process. Stakes? Very high.

14. Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter

If the raucous streets of Victorian London were actually prowled by clockwork prostitutes and doomsday-caliber contraptions, well, this novel might read as non-fiction. Jeter's mind-blowing tale casts unsuspecting heir George Dower into a seedy, steam-powered underbelly filled with diabolical inventions, murderous conspiracy, and more gears than a wind-up toy factory.

15. The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

History meets fantasy in glorious steampunk fashion as real-life figures like Sir Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne find themselves hunting down the notorious Spring Heeled Jack - a supernatural menace plaguing the streets. But as they'll soon discover, things are a whole lot weirder (and far more anachronistic) than they initially suspected.

16. The Peshawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling

In Stirling's rewritten 19th century, a devastating meteor shower forces the British Empire to relocate its capital city to India, giving birth to an entirely new global power. This imaginative alternate history follows the elite Peshawar Lancers as they deploy awesomely archaic war machines and spycraft to defend their steam-powered civilization from foreign and domestic threats.

17. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Torn between her mechanical and human sides, automaton Mattie possesses a special knack for alchemy that thrusts her into the middle of a revolution brewing in her city. With her quest for personhood hanging in the balance, she must navigate a treacherous path through a society viciously divided by advanced technology and scientific progress. It's a poignant, thought-provoking tale.

18. A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

When a simple airship cargo run goes awry, pilot Elle Chance suddenly finds herself racing across Edwardian Europe to unravel an ancient secret that threatens to unhinge both the natural and supernatural worlds. Get ready for a lightning-paced urban fantasy/steampunk mashup filled with alchemical twists, double-crosses, and one badass heroine.

19. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Good ol' H.G. Wells' classic The Time Machine serves as the jumping-off point for this enigmatic, brain-warping exploration of time travel's possibilities...and consequences. Weaving between parallel narratives and colliding historical fiction with imaginative sci-fi, Palma cooks up a genre-blending masterpiece that will leave you triple-checking your pocket watch.

20. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Welcome to the most bonkers steampunk vision of the post-apocalypse, where entire cities have been outfitted with locomotive gear systems to roam the planet, consuming smaller towns for resources. Our unlikely teenage hero Tom Natsworthy must navigate outrageous fiefdoms, air pirates, and the ever-present threat of total destruction as he fights for a better future. By the time you turn that final page, your mental gears will be whirring at maximum RPMs with inspiration and amazement. Who knows, you might even find yourself tinkering with redesigns for that old toaster oven...or at least sporting some dapper goggle accessories to your local steampunk society meetings. In the meantime, I implore you to dust off that underutilized library card and go get delightfully lost in the retro-futuristic worlds of these steampunk masters. Within their varnished pages lies unbridled potential for adventure, escapism, and poking at that glorious human curiosity we all share. So forge boldly ahead like an eccentric inventor of ages past - who knows what marvels await when you free your mind?
Back to blog