Western Steampunk?


So this morning during my workout, I read Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker (which is, as of the time of writing, free on Kindle and is not DRM protected, so easy to convert to other formats).  It’s this really fun little western steampunk set in the Yukon somewhere around the Gold Rush.  I enjoyed it so much, I immediately went out and bought the other two novellas in the series.

I don’t know WHY it never occurred to me that steampunk could include something other than the familiar Victoriana I’m accustomed to.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the Victorian takes on things.  Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series is marvelous.  But steampunk plus western?  Yes please.  And if I really think about it, I remember some Will Smith movie that was kind of steampunk western…seems like Kevin Klein was in it with him….:goes to look: Wild Wild West.  Not the best movie ever, but fun.

Rachel Aaron had a marvelous post about steampunk and what is actually deserving of the term (rather than just plunking a dirigible into the story and calling it done).  In it she mentioned Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker (now on my TBR list) and that’s what sent me off on the hunt for western steampunk last week.  Aaron lists three primary reasons why she thinks steampunk is popular (all of which I agree with, as it’s these things I love about it):

1) It looks freaking cool

2) It rekindles the human love of discovery

3) It imposes additional rules in terms of societal limitations and boundaries that amp up the tension of certain situations

It’s one of those things I’m fascinated by but have never felt the drive to actually write because, frankly, I haven’t got enough interest in the Victorian era to actually do the research to write it WELL.  But the American West?  Oh hell yeah.  That’s something I already know a lot about and would enjoy researching.  Plus, I love the kinds of characters that sort of pioneering lifestyle creates.

I don’t know if I’ll ever actually WRITE any steampunk (I am not currently being bitten by rabid plot bunnies), so in the meantime I’ll satisfy the itch by reading more Buroker and Priest and whoever else y’all can recommend to me.

Do you dig steampunk?  What books can you suggest?

8 thoughts on “Western Steampunk?”

  1. andrewmocete - October 8, 2012 10:38 am

    This is what interested me in the Dark Tower series. It has the hallmarks to epic, quest fantasy, but it’s set in a world more like the old west rather than the more common medieval times. Lindsay Buroker did a smart thing, finding an untapped resource in western steampunk. Makes you think what other ones are out there in different genres.

  2. John Holton - October 8, 2012 10:47 am

    I haven’t read any steampunk; I suspect that it has more to do with its fans (who are a little too into it) than with the actual genre. However, the first time I heard the term and had it explained, the first thing I thought of was “The Wild, Wild West.” (I’m talking about the show from the Sixties and not the movie, which I thought missed the mark. But then, you see things differently as a twelve-year-old than as an adult.) Western steampunk actually sounds more appealing; I’ll have to check out those novellas.

  3. Rachel Aaron - October 8, 2012 4:17 pm

    Glad you liked the post, Kait! It’s funny, but I’ve never had the urge to write any Steampunk either (no steam powered plot bunnies like me, I guess). I just like reading it. Unfortunately, there’s so much fake Steampunk out there it’s hard to find real stuff to read. I’ve been informed that China Mieville totally counts, though, so if you haven’t read any of his stuff, I totally recommend it. Really weird, beautiful books!

    1. Kait Nolan - October 8, 2012 4:26 pm

      You’re the second person who’s mentioned him lately (I had to be corrected because I assumed with a name like China, he was a she!). I’ll have to check him out.

  4. Elizabeth MacAndrew - October 8, 2012 5:49 pm

    Hi! Noticed your post because I am actually writing a Western Steampunk right now. I first found out about the genre because I do tabletop gaming and played a game called Deadlands in such a setting. If you are interested in writing in the genre, I can recommend books for Western on non Western Steampunk to start your research.

    1. Kait Nolan - October 8, 2012 8:31 pm

      I would LOVE book recs! It’ll be a while before the pipeline is clear enough to play but that leaves plenty of time to read and research!

      1. Elizabeth MacAndrew - October 8, 2012 10:27 pm

        Everyday Life in the Wild West, Everyday life in the 1800s, and the last is What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. They are out of print but findable used. Some libraries might carry them.

  5. denizb33 - October 9, 2012 10:03 pm

    Awesome! I love the idea of steampunk. Would love to write some set in Turkey or Wales someday, when the right idea comes…


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