Here’s a video I made for George Kirk – the librarian at the BGRS Learning Resource Centre – all about my six favourite steampunk stories! You can read the transcript for the chat and more about each book below!
Hello! It’s March, almost springtime! And there are a lot of springs in steampunk. So to spring into March I would like to recommend six of my favourite steampunk stories. What is steampunk I hear you ask, well, I’ll tell you… steampunk is science-fiction fantasy with a Victorian flavour. Technology wise, there’s airships, steam-vehicles, clockwork machines, and sometimes there’s also a little bit of magic! And now that we’ve cleared that up. Let’s talk about the books–
1: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.
Northern Lights is the first part of the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s about a girl called Lyra, who has a daemon called Pantalaimon.Pan is a fragment of Lyra’s soul in animal form, who can change shape to any creature under the sun. When Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped from Oxford, they set out on an adventure to find him that takes them to the frozen island of Bolvangar. They meet: gyptians, fairies, explorers, witches, evil scientists and enormous armoured polar bears!
It’s a cracking adventure, beautifully written and a classic of the genre.
Look out for the new BBC series that is based on His Dark Materials coming soon! And for the prequel series – The Book of Dust – that starts with The Belle Sauvage.
2: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.
A story of traction cities: armoured cities on wheels that move through the wastelands of the world eating each other up. While investigating a mystery, our heroes Tom and Hester, get pushed of the edge of London and end up in the desert. To make their way home, they must deal with traction pirates, asassin robots, and a plot to blow up the rest of the world!
It’s a story filled to the brim with action, unique ideas and quirky characters, and also the first part in a long running series.
Look out for the new movie of Mortal Engines coming in the autumn, produced by Peter Jackson!
3: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan is set in a steampunk 1914 on the brink of the 1st world war. It’s the Clankers, with their enormous steam-powered machines vs the Darwinists with their genetically engineered flying creatures! Alex, a clanker prince heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is running away from the men who killed his father, when he bumps into Derren a girl who’s disguised herself as a boy to join the Darwinist airforce of Great Britain. So begin their adventures together. Can they stop the looming World War?
It’s a war story unlike any other – filled with spy missions, enormous battles between flying whales and walking tanks. And is also the first part of an excellent series. Plus it has amazing illustrations!
4: The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Hart
When Emmeline’s scientist parents disappear, she finds herself on the way to a safehouse in France with an orphan boy called Thing. But she’s kidnapped before she can arrive by the evil Dr Bauer, who hopes to summon a dangerous creature from beneath the frozen North pole…
An action packed story that’s filled with so much adventure it will make your head spin! Thing is my favourite character in this one: resourceful, mouthy and brave, he rescues Emmeline as many times as she saves him!
5: Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy
Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word their father has died in an attempt to reach the South Polaris. A mysterious clue leads them to question this fact and they set out to discover the truth of what happened to his expedition…
What I like so far is: the fun world building of Lontown, and that Arthur has a bionic arm that makes him different from everyone else. Hopefully that theme develops throughout the story…
UPDATE: I finished the book. It’s a great fun younger mg steampunk adventure. Fast paced and filled with broad, bubbly characters and bright, colourful world building, with lots of different sights to see. The friendly and enjoyable writing style evoked the feel and tone of Aardman’s pirates, or a classic kids anime-manga adventure series.
Lily’s life is torn apart, when her papa, a famous inventor, disappears in an airship crash. With her friends, Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin her pet mechanical fox she set out on a journey to discover the truth of what happened to him. But first she must escape the plans of her evil governess and the machinations of a pair of silver-eyed men who are after her papa’s most famous invention: the Cogheart.
I promise you it’s an exciting and scary read, full of twist and turns that you hopefully won’t see coming!
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my video and that you read some of my steampunk book selection. If you do let me know what you thought of them! Goodbye and good luck, may the steam be with you! And keep reading!