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Steampunk Media

Everyone probably has slightly different ideas of what is and isn't steampunk when it comes to literature, music, and movies.  This is a brief list of sources of steampunk inspiration.  Be they visual or narrative, a consensus of local steampunks has decided on the following entries as officially "inspiring" with regards to the genre.  However, we'd love to hear what you find inspiring, too.  Please feel free to email or otherwise contact us with your suggestions.  If you feel something is left off the list, kindly let us know!  Email:



Novels, Graphic Novels, and Literature


While the term "steampunk" was devised by author K. W. Jeter in 1987, original 19th century works are often also lumped into the genre because they inspire and embody the spirit of the movement we so enjoy today.  So while H.G. Wells or Jules Verne were merely entertaining their own flights of fancy, we take their speculative fiction and include it within a whole modern sub-genre of books known as Steampunk.  There are also many books about steampunk and also short story collections - we could never name them all.  Below are some good starter books to get you interested and inspired.  Keep reading! 


War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

The Time Machine - H.G. Wells

Journey to the Center of the Earth - Jules Verne

A Princess of Mars series - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan of the Apes - Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson

A Traveler from Altruria - William Dean Howells

Paris in the 20th Century - Jules Verne

The Mysterious Island - Jules Verne


The Wizard of Oz series - L. Frank Baum

The Lost World - Arthur Conan Doyle

The Big Time - Fritz Lieber

The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers

Tales from the Cthulhu Mythos - H.P. Lovecraft

The Warlord of the Air - Michael Moorcock

Morlock Night - K.W. Jeter

Infernal Devices - K.W. Jeter

The Prophecy Machine - Neal Barrett Jr.

Aldair Series - Neal Barrett Jr.

Narbondo Series - James Blaylock

His Dark Materials series - Philip Pullman

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill


Leviathan series - Scott Westerfeld

Girl Genius series - Kaja and Phil Foglio

Parasol Protectorate series - Gail Carriger

Custard Protocol series - Gail Carriger

Finishing School series - Gail Carriger

Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel - Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett

The Difference Engine - William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

Mortal Engines series - Philip Reeve

Clockwork Century series - Cherie Priest

The Half-Made World - Felix Gilman

Worldshaker - Richard Harland

Terminal World - Alistair Reynolds

Gotham by Gaslight - Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola

The Five Fists of Science - Matt Fraction, Steven Sanders

Magnificent Devices - Shelley Adina (8 books!)

Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences - Phillippa Ballentine

Bartleby and James: Edwardian Steampunk Chronicle - Michael Coorlim

Steamwrecked, directed by SD Steampunk member Christopher Matista, takes place in the barren desert between the two sides of civilization, through which few dare travel. Humanoid creatures called scavengers mercilessly scrap anything – or anyone – they can get their claws into. They will easily go as far as to kill for lightning, which they can use to bring down airships that pass by. It is a well-known fact among civilized people and especially lightning catchers that you avoid the desert and its dangers at all costs.


Some might say that steampunk music is like art: we can't define it, but we know it when we hear it.  Some music groups court the be-goggled audiences with impunity.  Some bands are beloved by steampunks without having a targeted "steampunk" theme/vibe/sound, but we've listed them here because their aesthetic fits our hobby.

Steam Powered Giraffe

Abney Park

Professor Elemental

Poplock Holmes


Frenchy & the Punk

New Orleans Steamcog Orchestra

Café Noir

The Cog is Dead

Professor Gall

Marquis of Vaudeville

Gin Rebellion

Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys

Frytown Toughs

The Velveteen Band

Vernian Process

Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox

Nathaniel Johnstone

Valentine Wolfe

Toy-Box Trio


Victor Sierra

Lee Press-On and the Nails

Caravan Palace

Micah Blue Smaldone

Clockwork Dolls

Mr. B, Gentleman Rhymer

Steam-friendly Internet Radio Stations


Krypton Radio  (Saturdays 7-9PST steampunk show)

Radio Riel (other non-steam genres available)

Other great places to explore and find more variations of Steampunk music are:


Behind the Steam


In steampunk communities around the world friendly debates have occurred over the question "what makes a film 'steampunk'?  Does it need to feature goggles, gears and steam-powered gadgets?  Should it be set in the late 1800's, or will any era do?  What about time-travel or alternate history?  Must the characters don top hats, corsets, and spats?  One thing upon which all steampunks seem to agree is that the answers to these questions reside in the personal preference of the viewer.  If it inspires you to steampunk then, for you, it is a steampunk film.  Here are some suggested titles which have been offered by members of San Diego Steampunk for consideration... 

Mortal Engines


The Prestige


Golden Comapss



The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Howl’s Moving Castle


A Series of Unfortunate Events

The Illusionist

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Time Machine

Van Helsing

Time After Time

Sherlock Holmes


Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow

The Amazing Screw-On Head

9 (Nine)

The Fabulous Adventures of Jules Verne

Captain Nemo

Wild Wild West

Master of the World

Journey to the Center of the Earth

The Brothers Grimm

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

City of Ember

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

The First Men in the Moon

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


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