Steampunk.  A genre that’s a mystery to some and a love affair for many others.  And with good reason, as it provides such a rich playground of alternative histories and futures to flesh out with out of time technology and vibrant backdrops.  Victorian England is  popular setting for classics such as Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Men works, Warren Ellis’ current (yet late) Captain Swing the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island, Lady Mechanika from Aspen Comics, as well as many others.  Below is a small selection of recommendations that, while some may be on the fringe of being classified ‘steampunk’, should provide you with some interesting reading.  If any are of interest, drop me a line.  I have some of these titles arriving back in stock soon.   

Iron West – Cowboys and robots.  Two very different sets of characters but somehow it just works, and works brilliantly.  The plot basically pits an unfulfilled cowboy against an army of robots he discovers are bent on destroying California, as well as converting a steam engine into a giant robot menace.  Mix in a magical shaman to dispense the required advice to the ‘hero’ (and his trust sidekick Sasquatch) and you’ve got a great yarn partn’r.    This is a nice change from the Victorian steampunk setting.

 

For you bookshelf: Iron West trade paperback.  

Planetary  – An instant Warren Ellis classic, this highly acclaimed series, while original, blends the best elements of The X-Files/Fringe and Indiana Jones.  Planetary is a group that seeks answers to many of the world’s greatest mysteries and is financed by a mysterious figure known only as The Fourth Man.  Many pop culture characters make an appearance in the book, alongside ancient artefacts and monsters.  Set in the ‘Wildstorm Universe’, Ellis gets to overlap and inter-play with other Wildstorm properties he has had a hand in.

For your Bookshelf:  Planetary TPBs Vol 1 to 4.  Deluxe editions are available as well.

Anna Mercury –  Ellis is no stranger to writing futuristic settings with a heavy techno focus, his critically acclaimed Vertigo works in Transmetropolitan springing to mind.  However, Anna Mercury mixes the technocentric world of New Ataraxia with the flare of the 1950s pulp sci-fi and spy story telling.  Mercury, who could hold more than a candle to the athletic prowess of Lara Croft, battles political no-gooders from the spires of the city to its dark corners,  and similar to Batman, is believed by some to be a urban myth.  What is the connection between our world and New Ataraxia? – only Anna can reveal this secret.   Ellis, having yet again caught lighting in a bottle, has already started the second series which is available now.

 For your Bookshelf: Anna Mercury TPB or HC Vol.1 – The Cutter

Ministry of Space: An interesting story of what if Britain had a Ministry of Space and led the space race in the formative years of the 20th century.  If you ever liked Dan ‘I say, take that Mekon!’ Dare, this is for you.  This tpb edition has some ‘special features’ that sound like they’ll be worth a read. 

 

 For your Bookshelf: Ministry of Space TPB 

Ignition City Another Ellis’ alternative-history romp.  The plot is WWII was interrupted by a Martian invasion (a theme also explored in Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar – Balance series) which leads to a very retro-future straight out of the pulp stories of yesteryear – if you think of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, that will give you a flavour for it.   

 

For your Bookshelf: Ignition City TPB

Scarlet Traces 1 and 2- What happened after War of the Worlds in the Victorian setting as written by H.G Welles?  Scarlet Traces tells that story, as Britain uses the technology of the fallen Martians to become THE world’s superpower.  However, what is they say that with great power come great something or other?  It’s not long till a conspiracy is afoot…  Book 2 picks up after the first book and tells the story of Britain, with its technological advances, taking the fight to the Martians on Mars!  But again, not all as is as it seems.  These with a mix of technology out of time and the classic War of the World’s backdrop make for a good variation on the attempt to bring about a sequel to the original.  The art is nice and there are hints of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as well as Dan Dare in the tone of these books.

For your bookshelf: Scarlet Traces and Scarlet Traces: The Great Game

The Steampunk Bible – This upcoming Hardcover (224pgs) is coming out in May and sounds promising.  It’s not a graphic novel as the recommendations above, but I’m thinking it will be a nice companion piece to any steampunk themed stories in your collection.  It’s written by Jeff Vandermeer who is well respected in Steampunk literature circles.  If you’re interested, drop me a line for more details.