So, Steam Punk…I must admit that I have little exposure in this specific subgenre literature-wise. The general gist is: It is usually set in the Edwardian and/or Victorian eras or in a reality similar to that, but a few individuals in this setting possess technology is not quite historically…um, there. This technology is generally steam-based and is heavily associated with cogs and wheels and nuts and bolts. You can expect brassy finishes and mad scientists or loony inventors.
How can I so happily rant on about this without having read much on it? Well…there are a lot of movies and even some TV shows that feed you Steam Punk without you even noticing. In Wild Wild West, a movie featuring Will Smith and a few others, you encounter a giant mechanical spider that may have taken you by surprise. In Hellboy, there is the clockwork german assassin. In Warehouse 13, there is the inventor lady, HG Wells, with her freaky corset thinger and all kinds of other inventions… In the new Sherlock Holmes movies, you get a taste of the tech again. In an episode of Castle, there is a whole murder mystery revolving around a Steam Punk society (in modern times, of course).
In short, it’s a fantastic flavour that adds glam, whimsy and general awesome to an otherwise dull or normal background.