It's been a few years since I blogged about the resurgence of steampunk , first popularized in the 1980s. Today I can report that steampunk is not only still going strong in speculative fiction but has been adopted by other genres as well, notably mystery and romance. Even the superhero cosplay community has seen an increasing number of "steampunked" takes on popular characters .
I'm not sure why, but London (or some alt-history version of it) seems to be the unofficial capital of the steampunk world. Easily three-quarters of the steampunk I've read has been set there. Mind you, I have nothing against England's capital city, but it seems a shame that so many other worthy venues are going untapped. Happily, I'm not the only one seeking new frontiers for my historical-flavored speculative fiction. The American SF community has been staking their own claim on steampunk by reviving a setting they've dabbled in before: the Weird West.
It's a natural direction for this trend (one might even say it's "manifest destiny"), since steampunk and the Weird West have a lot in common already. Both embody a spirit of exploration and curiosity, a desire to fill in the blank spaces on a newly-redrawn map. Both focus on our civilization in a time of significant discovery and change, and all that accompanies those things: new professions, a drive for new resources, contact (and friction) with unfamiliar people, and even a certain amount of lawlessness as the forces of order and governance struggle to catch up with new technologies. (Come to think of it, that sounds awfully like our time....)
The Wild West is fertile ground for speculative fiction, too. Heck, it's practically part of the genre already-- the setting has long been home to larger-than-life characters, ghost stories and tall tales. To many Native Americans, it's a sacred space, the home of gods and legends. With so much wide-open territory to work with, it's easy to sneak in a few extra skinwalkers, immortal gunslingers, ancient curses, and... wait, is that a dragon?
If you'd like to point your wagon west and see what strange things might appear over the horizon, check out the titles below!
The Good the Bad and the Infernal by Guy Adams (PbkFantasy Adams) (COMING SOON)
Six Gun Tarot by R. S. Belcher (Exp Horror Belcher)
Territory by Emma Bull (Fantasy Bull)
Bloodlands by Christine Cody (PbkFantasy Cody)
Dead of Winter by Lee Collins (PbkHorror Collins)
Preacher: Ancient History by Garth Ennis, et al. (741.5973 Ennis v.4)
High Moon by David Gallaher, et al. (741.5973 Galla)
The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman (SF Gilman)
Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, et al. (741.5 Palmi)
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale,et al. (YA GN Hale)
The Native Star by M. K. Hobson (PbkFantasy Hobson)
The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Fantasy King)
The Haunted Mesa by Louis L'Amour (Fiction L'Amour)
The Best of Joe R. Lansdale by Joe R. Lansdale (Horror Lansdale)
Iron Council by China Mieville (Fantasy Mieville)
Dead Iron by Devon Monk (Fantasy Monk)
Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge (Horror Partridge)
Clementine by Cherie Priest (SF Priest)
Night of Fire by Nico Rosso (PbkRomance Rosso)
The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Sanderson)
Black Hills by Dan Simmons (Fiction Simmons)
American Vampire, Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder, Stephen King, et al. (741.5973 Snyde v.1)
Blood Riders by Michael P. Spradlin (PbkHorror Spradlin)
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne A. Valente (Exp Fantasy Valente) (COMING SOON)
Cowboys & Aliens by Fred Van Lente, et al. (741.5973 Van Le)
The Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede (YA Wrede)
Trigun by Yasuhiro Nightow (YA GN Nightow)