Ask the grumpies: Find awesome steampunk pictures

First Gen American asks:

I want a steampunk room in my soon to be new/old fixer house. I humbly request another steampunk article specifically around home decor. I was thinking an office space or guest room to be steampunkalicious.

Oh, good, an excuse for a linkfest!  First: Offbeat Home on Steampunk.  Click around the vendor links and stuff.

An awesome house in San Francisco (seriously, click through you guys).

An Octopus chair from Maximo Riera:

black octopus chair

Do want!

A steampunk house print available on etsy:


Wouldn’t this be nice to hang in your room?

Lamps like this are popular:


You need light, anyway.  Though I think this one is more fun:


If you’re doing an office, definitely think about doing a steampunk computer.  Mary Robinette Kowal has a tutorial…

Check out this desk made from an old organ:


Or, this more modern desk is from a whole article about steampunk decor:


If you want a lighter look.

If it’s a bedroom, you’ll need a bed.  DarkerLighter but still naughtyWhimsical


For the young at heart


Or classic!


In any case, click around the pages linked.  Lots of cool stuff is on etsy.  Amazing art is on deviantart and other sites.  Fashion is the most fun; look at Clockwork Couture for inspiration.

I could go on forever, but I have to eat dinner now.

Share cool things you find in the comments!

Ask the Grumpies: Steampunk

Rumpus writes:

What are your thoughts on trends in the steampunk genre? The Parasol Protectorate is one of many exploring steampunk (Behemoth, Earthshaker, etc)…which from what I can tell has been somewhat hiding in the wings since…Jules Verne?…no, probably not punk-y. Anyway, it seems like there are a lot of steampunk books out these days (I’m ignoring vampire books because I’m not really looking for romance-novels-in-disguise). And yet my understanding is that steampunk is a look backwards combined with some spunky protagonists fighting the establishment. Is that close to the right definition? If so are current offerings following in that vein or are they really just adventure novels in a different setting?

#1 responds:

Steampunk is totes a publishing trend in the past few years — the next big thing (vampires became zombies became angels).  And yet, it is also a cultural thing that is awesome: the steam part, which is looking back/forward to a past/future that never was, but you can pick the parts you like (keep the polite manners; hold the slavery); and the punk part, which has to do with a culture of making your own things and having bespoke items instead of mass-produced crap.

#2 notes:

I’ve been reading steampunk for seemingly decades (Martha Wells’ Death of a Necromancer being a personal favorite), but only recently does it seem to have hit the big-time.  My guess is with the resurgence of all things vampiric people got into all things Victorian, and if you’re doing all things Victorian… well it’s a hop skip and a jump to steampunk.  Also now a lot of big name best-sellers seem to have gotten in on the trend, like Scott Westerfield.  And, of course, the Gail Carriager books would be best-sellers even if they weren’t steam-punk because they’re so delightful.  But their success has probably helped the genre.

Btw, wikipedia has a really interesting article on the evolution of steampunk… yes, the origins are in Wells and Verne (though for them it was just contemporary science fiction!), but it really seems to have started as a new genre in the 1970s and 1980s.

As to your deeper questions, I defer to #1, and of course our insightful readers!

Steampunk Book Review #3: El Fin

This was the bestest book evahs.

Do you really think so, #2?

Well, not as good as Frederica, which is soothing my overworn soul.  This book is about a red bird that looks like a dragon and eats daggers.  Just kidding.  Set during The Three Musketeers… it looks to me like this book is trying to do for the swashbuckling literature what His Majesty’s Dragon did for the high seas and Napoleon literature.  The difference, of course, being, that books about swashbuckling are inherently interesting, whereas the books about Napoleonic times and ships need dragons to perk them up.

A slightly longer report from #1:

For once, #2’s report is pretty close to reality — not hard with the cover and the title.  Pretty, isn’t it?  This book is sort of like The Three Musketeers plus dragons, except that it’s really more like The Ten or So Musketeers and Oh Yeah One’s an Awesome Chick and One’s a Dragon but You Know How Richelieu Is, and Also Things are Very French.  I read the best books.  There is a little clunky info-dumping, but only a little.

Ok, so I cheated; this isn’t steampunk at all.  I’m sorry.  I felt contrary.  I have like 5 excellent steampunk books sitting around waiting to be read, but I just got all contrary.   Mea culpa.  I decided that you, the readers, would have to either take a review of this book or else wait potentially forever for me to review another steampunk book.

This book is high fantasy, swords-and-sorcery.  It’s swashbuckling, full of action and intrigue and adventure and double-crosses and international conspiracy, oh my.  Here’s a brief (non-spoilery) flavor of what it’s like:

Agnes took stock of the situation. […] The ground was fifty metres below.  They did not have time to force the hatch.
They were trapped.
Agnes and Laincourt placed themselves en garde, back to back… and waited.
A circle of blades closed in on the fugitives, who were resolved to die rather than allow themselves to be captured.
“Usually,” Agnes muttered to herself, “they show up about now…”
Laincourt heard her.
“What did you say?” he asked over his wounded shoulder.
“Nothing.  Delighted to have met you.”
“Same here.”
And then rescue came from the sky.

Isn’t that fun?  My advice: don’t even try to keep track of who’s scheming what with whom.  Just read it and enjoy the time.  And there is a big!  twist!  right!  at!  the!  END!  So, ya know: ooooooh.\

#2 adds it to her Amazon wish list

Steampunk book review: Boneshaker

#2 is totally scheduling this post to see if that helps #1 to commit to writing about it for her challenge.

If not, here is #2’s report:

I read the book Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.  It was about a steampunk woman in steampunk glasses.  They were kind of like goggles.  The book made me feel very grey.  It had a beginning, a middle part, and an end.  It was very good.  There were zombies and Seattle was destroyed.  By, #2.

by Cherie Priest

Actually, #2’s review is so nice that I’m going to leave it there.  But now I will give you mine, because I have finally sorted out how I feel about this book.  (Lately I have been having much ambivalence about things!)

Overall verdict:  It’s good, you should read it.

Longer:  The beginning of this book really sucked me in.  Seattle being destroyed happened about 15 years before this story starts, and there are indeed zombies (and airships and goggles) but they mostly start to show up in the middle of the book.  The world is very richly detailed, but very grim.  There is an innovative method for turning people into zombies, called the Blight, which is the main force shaping the current world.  Cherie Priest wedged a good deal of backstory in there but made it totally interesting, not info-dumpy, for which, props.

Fifteen-year-old Zeke goes inside the walls of Seattle, and his mother Briar goes in after him.  After that, surprisingly, I slowed down a lot.  The middle of the book is extremely action-packed, but it actually got sort of redundant.  It was exactly like one of those silly, ridiculous movie scenes where two people are running around frantically looking for each other and missing each other by only seconds around every corner… but it went on for like 30 pages.  Yes, you’re afraid, tired, dirty, wheezing, running for your life, feeling sick, uncertain, etc.  I get it already.  It was just chapters and chapters of people running back and forth to little purpose except escaping peril and separately meeting ever-more-colorful characters.

The two main characters, Briar and Zeke, were wonderful.  I just hated most of the other people they encountered and didn’t want to spend time with them, which slowed me down.

However, (SPOILER ALERT) once Briar and Zeke find each other and are in the same scenes again, it’s great.  I loved the action from that point on, once they can work as a team together with some of the less-annoying secondary characters.  Near the very end we learn a crucial fact from Briar’s past, which really opens doors to a better or deeper relationship between her and Zeke.  Based on some bits of stage business near the end with a twice-stolen warship (did I mention there are airships?), I can see a direction where I think and hope the next book will go.

I’m looking forward to the sequel.

How much do I love steampunk

This month is my steampunk challenge!

“How much do you love steampunk?” you ask.  (Apparently enough to spend waaayyy too much time looking at pictures on the internet instead of finishing this post.)

Here. Let me show you.  Join me on a journey as I figure out what I like…

The comics!

The Graphic Novel! (Yes, there are others, but this online comic is the progenitor of them all…)

Lab Specs from Girl Genius. I covet them.


This is pretty cool, for a world in which I start to go for hot style wholeheartedly in public.

See that little link over on the left sidebar at the bottom?  The one that says steampunk?  Click it!

Oh, there are books.  So many books.  A giant favorite here at the blog is The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger (also sometimes called “mannerpunk”, which I love infinitely).

(We have squeed about it before. More on books coming up soon!) (for more on books, check out Books tagged Steampunk on LibraryThing)

Cherie Priest is queen of the steampunks.  I love her jewel-tones.  (No offense to Gail Carriger!)

The cakes! Sunday Sweets!

One thing that I kinda like is the culture of making-your-own, in other words, hacking your clothing.  io9 posits that the reason we, as a culture, embrace steampunk right now is because of a longing for machines that don’t suck. I plan to get the book they talk about there, once it comes out. In other news, it appears to have been Jess Nevins who said,”Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown.”

The trouble with corsetry is that it requires custom fitting & construction… otherwise, I would have some.  THIS CORSET on Etsy IS HOTT but sadly not my size.

The lack of real leather is what keeps me from loving the boots at Clockwork Couture, though I like some of their styles.  *ponder*  I am working my way towards my own personal steampunk aesthetic here, deciding what I like.

I kinda want some steampunky octopus jewelry, but I’m not sure what.
Owls: also good.  Ravens: maybe overdone.  Crocodiles: no.

NO NO NO to Angelina Jolie in Sky Captain.  Also no gas masks.  Top hats: very yes.

Funky old keys, gears: yes.  Feathers, fur: generally no.

Silk, cotton, leather: yes.  Pinstripes: good.  Trying to look like a fairy: bad.

Long coats: cool.  Edwardian rings: definitely so very yes.  (no pearls or art-deco-y stuff:  I’m talking filigree and micropavé [on the sides, too], delicate and nothing sticking out unconnected and not with the stone sticking waaayyy above the band [I would prefer the stone more integrated into the band, not just stuck on the top], probably a halo style, white metal of some sort, and a deep, dark red ruby which could be either perfectly round or that square-thing, whatever that’s called.  Cushion, maybe.  *Not* emerald-cut.  Maybe oval if it was cool.  Delicacy is key because I have small hands.  Oh dear!!!)

Steampunk Princess Leia costume: No.  (well ok, maybe.)

Have I inspired?

Pirates and airships and armored sharks, oh my

This is a brief mini-review of a very silly book called The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook.


Ok, first of all, the cover.  A guy with half a face, half-naked, and not in a good way.  I’m sorry.  Please ignore the cover.  I don’t know what happened there.

BUT!  Inside: steampunkery.  There’s a guy who is a (supposedly) reformed pirate.  Some pirate ships.  Armored sharks!!!!  Airships.  Automata, mechanical hearts, nanites.  Clockwork flesh.  A kraken from the deep, which must be daringly harpooned by the ass-kicking heroine (oops, minor spoiler).  This thing is so over the top; I loved that part.  Robot cats that breed.  Treason and treachery and a doomsday weapon!  Difficult race relations in a postcolonial, somewhat post-apocalyptic setting.  High society.  Oh, and also zombies.  I’m not even kidding.

#2 would definitely not like how sex is handled in this book.  I’m not sure I like it either.  There is some confusion going on and I think it could’ve been handled differently.

I would give it a high 3.5 stars out of 5.  I would like to give it 4 stars for fun, but it’s not quite there.  Still, a good way to pass the time.