Welcome to Top Sci Fi’s exploration of the top 25 steampunk books on the market. These steampunk novels have been chosen to show a variety of approaches to the genre. Some of the books are ideal for sci fi fans who are new to the steampunk genre, while others are suited for diehard steampunk readers. You can check out any of these titles for free with Audible's one month free trial.
By KW Jeter
KW Jeter is the originator of the term steampunk and Infernal Devices is the first story in his series of the same name. Infernal Devices is a fun steampunk tale written in a style reminiscent of Jules Verne and H.G Wells. Many fans of the steampunk genre have expressed their delight at discovering one of the earliest authors in the genre has a series of classic steampunk fiction they hadn’t previously heard of.
By Alan Baker
The Martian Ambassador is a true treat for fans of both steampunk and broader science fiction. The story is set in a world where Martian rejuvenation abilities have allowed Queen Victoria to return to a youthful state. However, things take a turn for the worse when the Martian ambassador dies under suspicious circumstances. The Martians task Earth with solving the death before they are forced to do so themselves.
By Scott Westerfeld
Scott Westerfeld presents a fantastical version of the pre-World War 1 time period in Leviathan, his first book in the series of the same time. This steampunk story centers on Prince Aleksander’s exile with only a war machine and devoted band of followers to support him. The book draws upon classic steampunk tropes such as intricate machinery, but also draws upon science fiction themes such as DNA manipulation to offer a gripping and mind-expanding story.
By Ekaterina Sedia
Ekaterina Sedia presents a world divided between the Mechanics and Alchemists. This is a tale packed with humanoid robots as well as more fantastical elements such as Gargoyles. This steampunk setting is used to present a tale of war, conflict, and also romance. Fans of the steampunk genre have consistently praised the book’s moving nature as well as its gripping story and convincing portrayal of a fantastical world.
By SM Peters
In Whitechapel Gods SM Peters presents an alternative version of London where the Whitechapel area has been taken over by mechanized beings, overseen by Mama Engine and Grandfather Clock. Humanity has tried to resist these mechanical beings in the past, and the story shows a new rebellion by a group of humans. The Victorian setting is archetypal steampunk and the depictions of mechanical beings and the Gods who oversee them will be admired by fans of the genre.
By Paul Di Fillippo
Paul Di Filippo’s Steampunk trilogy offers three creative tales set in a Victorian world where machinery and science interact in novel and intriguing ways. The characters draw from a mixture of real historical figures and those created by the author. The Steampunk Trilogy pushes the boundaries of the genre, and is not afraid to use shocking and unexpected subject matter to grip and surprise the reader.
By Katie MacAlister
Steamed is best described as a steampunk romance which makes use of conventional steampunk tropes to tell the tale of a scientist transported back into the Victorian era. This allows him to not only experience the usual steampunk favorites, such as fantastical vehicles and devices, but also to meet a classic corset wearing steampunk heroine. Steamed will appeal to fans of the steampunk genre as well as readers gripped by human centered drama.
By Brian Selznick
Brian Selznick offers a captivating steampunk story with The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The book is a truly gripping mystery set in Paris. The story’s hero is Hugo Cabret, an orphan and thief whose secretive life is disrupted when he meets two other characters sure to change the course of his destiny. Although the book is intended for a younger audience, The Invention of Hugo Cabret will appeal to steampunk fans of all ages, and features beautiful artwork.
By Neal Barrett Jr.
The Prophecy Machine is the first novel in Neal Barrett Jr’s Investments series. It’s set in a mysterious world where animals were long ago made into humans, resulting in a fascinating series of hybrid characters. Steampunk tropes are adhered to by the presence of a mysterious machine located in a basement which only the Master Lizard Maker can fix. Science fiction fans can lose themselves in this gripping world of amazing creatures and mechanical lizards.
By Michael Swanwick
Michael Swanwick presents a steampunk twist on the classic concept of the Faustian pact. An alchemist is granted untold knowledge allowing him to shape the world in his own image. This ushers in the era of New Age of Mechanization. The novel makes use of different time periods to explore the consequences that steampunk ideas would have for the world at large over a period of time.
By Tim Akers
Tim Akers begins his The Burn Cycle series with Heart of Veridon, a gripping tale set in a steampunk world. Veridon is an ancient city which is home to fantastical mechanical creatures as well as powerful unknown entities. The story focuses on an on the run pilot and criminal who must make sense of rapidly unfolding mysteries. Heart of Veridon features a mix of gripping action and thorough, engrossing world building.
By Jay Lake
Mainspring kicks off Jay Lake’s Clockwork Earth series of steampunk tales. Lake has taken the steampunk concept a step further by presenting an entirely mechanical universe where the clockwork, mechanical nature of reality is apparent for all to see. The story focuses on a clockmaker’s apprentice who receives a visit from the Archangel Gabriel which triggers a quest to mechanically alter the very Earth itself.
By Shelley Adina
The first story in Shelley Adina’s Magnificent Devices series presents a Victorian era London in which Charles Darwin’s son has been made Prime Minister. Lady of Devices delves deep into an immersive steampunk experience in which engineers, explosives, and steam are the most powerful forces of the day. Adina’s story is a gripping tale of power, betrayal, and, ultimately, survival.
By China Mieville
Perdido Street Station is an uncompromising and serious story mixing elements of steampunk, fantasy and broader science fiction to offer an epic tale set in a strange world. China Mieville has been widely praised for presenting an incredibly detailed world for readers to lose themselves in. It’s full of mythical creatures and shadowy, powerful governments. This is a lengthy, immersive read for steampunk fans to truly lose themselves in.
By Lev AC Rosen
This is a young adult take on steampunk from Lev AC Rosen. The story centers on Violet Adams who must disguise her gender and identity in order to attend Illyria College. The world is a Victorian era yet technologically advanced society. Readers of all ages have enjoyed this tale and compared it to a steampunk version of Harry Potter, with Illyria College serving the role of a steampunk Hogwarts.
By Stephen Hunt
The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is a story combining the best elements of both the steampunk and adventure genres. The plot is based around the search for a lost society which was said to be perfect and to have overcome all the problems we face in the modern world. Stephen Hunt’s heroine is the adventurous Professor Amelia Harsh, who many readers have likened to a steampunk era, female Indiana Jones. This is a detailed tale full of rich and memorable characters who are likely to live on in the reader’s mind long after the final page has been read.
By Gail Garriger
Blameless is an incredible steampunk story from Gail Carriger set in Victorian London. This is a world packed with astonishing creatures, such as killer mechanical ladybirds, not to mention murderous vampires. Blameless draws upon both real and imaginary characters, including Queen Victoria and the Templars, to offer an exciting and intriguing world. The book is part of the Parasol Protectorate series, but can also be enjoyed as a standalone steampunk read.
By Cherie Priest
Cherie Priest begins her Clockwork Century series with Boneshaker, a thrilling mix of horror, science fiction, and steampunk. The story is a relentless mix of exciting ideas including the undead, air pirates, and dastardly criminals. The narrative itself is full of twists, turns and surprises which make Boneshaker hard to put down. For anyone looking for a horror influenced take on the steampunk genre, look no further.
By James P Blaylock
The first instalment of
By Stephen Hunt
The Court of the Air is a rip roaring steampunk tale focusing on two characters on the run. Stephen Hunt has created a world where the ultimate authority is the Court of the Air, a mysterious organization that recognizes no authority above its own. The Court of the Air is likely to appeal to fans of steampunk as well as broader science fiction stories such as Dr. Who. Fans of this book will be delighted to discover Hunt has written other instalments in his Jackelian series.
By Andrius Tapinas
Hour of the Wolf is the perfect introduction to Andrius Tapinas’ Steam and Stone saga, a world of incredible airships and mysterious wizardry. This is a dark and uncompromising world which pulls no punches in presenting its alternate steampunk vision of Europe. The story is based around the investigation of a brutal murder. The main character, former US Marine Antanas Sidabras, cannot trust anybody as he delves deeper into a complex web of plotting, power, and secrecy.
By Dru Pagliassotti
The city of Ondinium is the setting for Dru Pagliassotti’s Clockwork Heart, a steampunk novel with romance and fantasy undertones. The city is a complex world of castes and powerful families woven into a tangled web of loyalties. Clockwork Heart’s main character is Taya, a metal winged messenger able to fly over the city and interact with it at will. A chance event entangles Taya in a difficult situation. Pagliassotti makes masterful use of dialogue to keep the reader involved in this fascinating steampunk situation.
By Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher begins his Cinder Spires series with The Aeronaut's Windlass, a tale mixing elements of steampunk technology with magic and fantasy. The story is set in a world controlled by powerful Spires, groups of aristocrats who oversee peace and prosperity. The main character is an airship captain called Captain Grimm. He soon sees that the conflict between the Spires is insignificant compared to the vast challenge that will soon confront the whole of humanity.
By Philip Reeve
Philip Reeve’s debut novel, and the first in his Hungry City Chronicles series, is set in an alternative version of Earth. In this world, cities are no longer stationary, but are instead able to move around the barren ground at will. This results in a situation where cities literally seek to devour each other for scrap metal. This is an example of dystopian steampunk fiction at its finest, and the perfect introduction to Philip Reeve’s style of science fiction.
By SM Stirling
The Peshawar Lancers is a powerful blend of ideas from the steampunk and alternate history genres of science fiction. S M Stirling presents a world where the Earth was hit by comets, causing a version of the 21st century reliant on steam for power. The story is centered around the British Empire, based in India, and its relationship with the other major world power, the Russian Empire. This imaginative setting provides the backdrop for an exciting narrative full of surprises and exploration of this fascinating world.
What is Steampunk all about?
Steampunk is one of my personal faves. But what makes a Steampunk novel steampunk?
The best way to put it is "One step forward, two steps back."
You see, Steampunk science fiction boasts some pretty impressive technology. BUT... it's accomplished via antiquated methods. Primarily steam power.
And this steam power actually drives magnificent things. Things such as airships, factories, automobiles (or other vehicles), and even super weapons!
Defining Traits of Steampunk
Steampunk is a very unique subgenre of Science Fiction. It has some pretty clear cut features that make it what it is.
The setting of Steampunk novel are typically in the style of 19th century Victorian England. Whether it's speech patterns of the characters, the setting and environment, fashion and dress, or artistic design. Top hats and pocket watches are in top steampunk fashion. And many times, a would be hero or heroine is a reluctant chimney sweep or street orphan.
Those not set in Victorian style are often represented by the "Wild West" days of a young United States. The steam part usually comes in the form of steam powered locomotive trains (Or as a giant robotic spider in the steampunk film Wild Wild West).
But despite the differences in environment, these two share an key element of Steampunk. Retro-futurism. As mentioned before, technology is extraordinary in these books but... have that retro feel about them. Instead of circuits and resistors, steampunk tech is comprised of gears, wheels, and cogs.
Another common factor amongst steampunk novels is the use of rigid airships or zeppelins. These can simply be transportation, but often times they serve as a base of operations for the protagonist(s). These are referred to as ships and bring a sense of adventure to the story. So, it probably wouldn't surprise you to see "airship pirates" make an appearance every now and then.
Steampunk Steam Men
Steampunk has many unique features, but none as much so as the Steam Man. A steam man is Steampunk's answer to androids, cyborgs, or robots.
These Steam Men are normally asexual beings built purely out of metal and steam. The thing is... Steampunk novels don't normally feature computers in the digital sense and microprocessors are seemingly non-existent. SO... What makes a steam man live?
More often than not, there is an element of fantasy and magic involved. Stephen Hunt's Jackelian series (particularly The Court of the Air) is a shining example of the Steampunk Steam Man. These Steam Men are powered by a deep Earth magic known as the Fey.
Hunt's steam men also have another feature closely related to Steam Men. A hive mind. A hive mind is when a collective group has the ability to share a singular thought normally given out by a master controller. In the case of Hunt's steam men, they share a collective of thought through the steam itself and controlled by their leader--King Steam.
Get These Best SciFi Steampunk Books for Free!
If you are interested in getting some of these science fiction steampunk books for free here is a way in which you can do that:
1. Audible's One Month Free Trial: If you like audiobooks, you should definitely check out the free trial of Audible. It is supported by Amazon so there are a wide range of titles. You can choose from any two books while you trial the service, and you are able to keep these titles to enjoy even if you don’t go on to take up a paid membership of the Audible service.