steampunk defined + leviathan giveaway

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 |

I posed a question a week or so ago about steampunk, and polled for interest in a steampunk reading challenge. I will be hosting a small one, but it may take a little while to come together. In the meantime…

Definition: steampunk: There are two main kinds of steampunk. The first, traditional steampunk, envisions a future as the Victorians imagined it. The writings of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are good examples. The second, industrial steampunk, sees a far future world that harkens back to Victorian culture, for example a bustle dress made of kevlar. There are also other temporal options like clockpunk (c. 1500s) and dieselpunk (WWII). Definition borrowed shamelessly from Gail Carriger’s website. I bought her new novel Soulless today!

Steampunk may also refer to any anachronistic or technology-centric story set in the Gaslight Era, or more formally as “science fiction which has a historical setting (esp. based on industrialized, nineteenth-century society) and characteristically features steam-powered, mechanized machinery rather than electronic technology.” As per the Steampunk Scholar’s website.

And a giveaway! Scott Westerfeld (of Uglies trilogy fame) is releasing a new steampunk-esque novel entitled Leviathan on October 6th. THE PLAN: attend his Seattle bookstore event on the 12th and maybe get a copy signed.

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.


So I’ll offer one (1) copy of Leviathan up for grabs. It might be signed. But no guarantees. Well, the book I can guarantee, but nothing else. Okay? Sweet.

To enter:

Leave a comment on this post answering the question, “What do you think of when you read the word ‘steampunk?’”

Please include your email address. Giveaway is open internationally. Comments will close on October 13 at 11:59pm EST, and I will notify the randomly selected winner via email.

Good luck!


theduckthief said...

I first discovered steampunk a few years ago and was ecstatic.

To me, it's a way to connect to and reach into the past while still enjoying the comforts of technology in a stylish way.

Just look at Doc Brown's train in Back to the Future 3.


Leah l'Orange said...

i imagine a pseudo-apocalyptic world, civilized and inhabitable, where the characters have adapted and breathed new life into their dwelling... the world and the elements do not dictate how people live, but rather the opposite. it all comes down to adaptability, and the people have nailed it.

Leah l'Orange said...

HA HA HA! and leave it to me to omit something...
spazzicassi (at) yahoo (dot) ca


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I imagine a very industrialized underground society...ever seen the movie Metropolis? That's steampunk in my mind.


Zia said...

I've never read any Steampunk, but when I hear the word I think of machines and lots of them. This book has grabbed my attention and I would loved to be entered.


Andrea said...

I usually think of A Series of Unfortunate Events or The Golden Compass which are not steampunk strictly speaking but the movies have that look, you know?

annieiskawaii [at] gmail .com

J.T. Oldfield said...

Thanks for the definition. I never really knew what it was. In fact, when I heard steampunk, I thought of punk rock, and was disappointed to learn it has nothing to do with that.


Jenn M. said...

I'm with J.T Oldfield. I'm glad you left a definition because I imagined Johnny Rotten on a steam engine! When you left your other post I actually said out loud, "what the heck is steampunk?"

Although there will be no steam engines and punk rockers, I still think this sounds great so please enter me!


Anonymous said...

It wasn't a good movie, but I think of Wild West with Will Smith. The old fashioned mix with outrageous machines. I have a lot to learn, obviously.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Autumn said...

When I think of steampunk, I think of cosplay with corsets, top hats, bionic arms, and often goggles. :D Forge from X-Men also comes to mind, if her were, you know, Victorian.


Unknown said...

The phrase "Steampunk" always catches my eye, I think because it is the American old-west adventure married to English sophistication where all the best parts of each shine through. The finicky nature of cobbled together machines that can be fixed with a good firm kick is charming and something I don't ever seem to tire of smiling at.

Kaylen said...

I didn't hear the word 'steampunk' until I started reading cynical comments on the Leviathan book trailer. I had no idea what it was and honestly, to this day, I cannot separate the word from the image of a tall guy with lots of leather, a nose ring, an aplethera of wallet chains, and a hot pink mohawk that appeared to have caught fire... I apologize for my strangeness. X)

Brooke said...

I never actually knew what steampunk was. To me, it sounds kind of like the society from City of Ember. The word just makes me think of dirty machines.


Devin L. Ganger said...

I think of my wife when I think of steampunk. She's an absolute nut over the genre and hangs out on several steampunk mailing lists and forums. For her, the appeal is the Victorian sensibilities and viewpoint.

As a result, our fiction library has been slowly enriched by several steampunk-esque novels. Possibly the best ones we currently have are Airborn and Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel.

devin [at] thecabal [dot] org

Mya said...

The word "steampunk" always gives me an image of Thomas the Tank Engine (anyone even remember that?) all grown up... complete with piercings and mohawk. Odd but true! =D

mya [dot] rooney [at] gmail [dot] com

Shanella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanella said...

soooo ... if you just said the word "steampunk" to me, I'd think of an angry emo kid... hehe

as for email I think it can be got via my blogger acct. or something like that.

Kristi Cook said...

I kinda think of the movie Wild, Wild West with Will Smith. Don't know if it fits, exactly. I guess I think of something resembling the Victorian era, along with steam-driven machines.

Wicked Walker said...

I haven't got the joy of reading a steampunk novel yet...just hearing the word makes me think of edgy, trendy clothing where the victorian style has actually circled around and is cool again (kinda like bell bottoms lol)...but based into the future to where we can no longer rely on electricity and everything works off steam.

Brandi said...

For a long time I loved steampunk but had no idea what to call it. Someone mentioned "Back to the Future 3" in a previous comment. To me, that sums up a very bare bones, yet crystal clear interpretation of steampunk. It has the elegance of the Victorian age aligned with the rough, gritty nature of the Industrial Revolution.

The image I get when I think about steampunk is composed of many parts such as:
-dark colors
-variety of metal

Sara said...

When I think of steampunk I think of gears, ancient grandfather clocks, dirigibles, corsets with metal tracery, steam locomotives, and typewriters. Steampunk is a feeling of an era both real and imagined.

Rabid Fox said...

“What do you think of when you read the word ‘steampunk?’”

When I first heard the term late last year, I thought it was a musical reference. I thought it might have been punk music strictly with acoustic instruments. I quickly learned how far off I was with my initial guess.

e-mail: rabidfox(at)

Sara said...

Oh, sorry! and email:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Oh, yay, what a fun giveaway. I really want to read Soulless too. Sounds awesome.

What I think?


Not too much b/c I used to not know much about Steampunk. :)

lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

Holly said...

When I think of steampunk...
I see steamed-up cities and dashing men in top hats, fantastical machines, velvet carriages, ladies in obscenely complicated dresses of high fashion and brass and copper. Lots of brass and copper. So, for me, 'steampunk' can really be summed up in three words;


Anonymous said...

A few years ago Sci-Fi channel had a show called "The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne." Now that I know what steampunk means, I immediately think of the imagery from that (awesome) show with its quasi-high-tech airships and weaponry.
-Miss Print
miss [UNDERSCORE] print [AT] yahoo [DOT] com

Unknown said...

When thinking of "steampunk," my mind conjures a city whose basic architecture and the attire matches with the Victtorian age. And the technology seems to be a very advanced version of the steam engine which is used to power various vechiles and supply power to the denizens of the city. The movie which I remember accurately capturing "steampunk," is Steamboy which is a film from the director of Akira.

Also there's an RPG entitled Steambot chronicles whose universe has various elements of steampunk incorporated within the world.

-Justin B. aka. fantastyfreak

Helene said...

When I read the word "steampunk" without context, I picture a punk (with appropriate hair, clothing, piercing and/or tattoos) with steam coming out of his/her nostrils --I guess it's a cartoon or comic book representation in my mind, or a metaphor (steam = power and/or anger).

email: cabinln[AT]hotmail[DOT]com

Anonymous said...

I think of a emo, reckless, punk, rule-braking kid, that is addicted to pot, when I hear the word steampunk!

-Saudia Mohamed

Sara M said...

I first heard of Steampunk back in April when I read about the YA series Caitlin Kittredge had started writing. Since then, it seems like it's everywhere, but that's probably just because I know what it is now.

Anyway, I'm so excited for this book. I love Scott Westerfeld.

Sara M
sara_UFblog [at] yahoo [dot] com

Rhiannon Hart said...

I only discovered steampunk recently and I had no idea what it meant when I first heard it. Now I know, I'm not really sure punk is the right word, but hey, it sounds good!

rhi.hart at

Unknown said...

I think first of the amazing steampunk art that some people make- it's stunning!

Then I think about fictional cities that are a mix of old and new, with lots of brown and metallic colors and turning gears and fun goggles. It's something I love to think about!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Well, first thanks for giving the definitions. This has always been a little bit of a gray area for me. It seems everyone has a little bit of a different view on Steampunk.

Hmmm, now what do I think of with this word... Well, for some reason it reminds me of the old steam run factories. So I think of metal and steam working to create many wonderous things.

vvb32 reads said...

yee-haw! gail's site is just full of great steampunk info!

so i think of the movies around the world in 80 days and howl's moving castle when i read steampunk.

and for some reason i think of tank girl even though she's not victorian in anyway.

Ryan said...

I have only read a few steampunk books, my favorite has been Whitechapel Gods.

I always think of billows of steam pouring out of sidewalk vents while intelligent machines are hiding in the shadows watching Victorian women walkind down the street.

My email is:

By the way I have an award for you.

ibeeeg said...

You know what? I have not heard of the word steampunk until just now.
My first thought was some sort of teenage punk phrase to describe their "style". *shrug* Guess that is what happens when one is surround by teenagers (mine though are not punks...had to throw that in there. hehe)

Reading the definition was interesting. Love new-to-me words.


Ginny Larsen said...

i think of how many kids in my classes will like or dislike the genre.

is it sad that i base most of my book purchases on the fickle whims of teenagers? haha. well, at least most of the "steampunk-ish" book covers i've seen are eye-catchy and would entice many a young reader.

Carrie K. said...

Steampunk is a completely new concept to me - so nothing really came to mind until I read your explanation. It definitely sounds intriguing, though!

nnjmom at yahoo dot com

Rebecca, A Clothes Horse said...

Are you going to start wearing Steampunk jewelry now? Etsy has a lot of options! :)

Rebecca, A Clothes Horse said...

Are you going to start wearing Steampunk jewelry now? Etsy has a lot of options! :)

Ruth (Book Focus) said...

I haven't actually read any steampunk either - Leviathan is the first I've really heard of that sounds good! From what I've heard of steampunk, though, what comes to mind is mostly lots of machines. If you asked me to define it a bit more, maybe "historical science fiction"?

...yeah. I haven't read any, as I've said. (Unless Pullman's His Dark Materials series counts.) I love someone else's comment about how they thought of Will Smith's Wild wild west as steampunk - I know it's probably way off, but that's kind of how I think of it, too. :D

I always thought of steampunk as guys' fiction. But Leviathan sounds pretty good, so I'm revising that opinion.

Email: kiwibooklover at gmail dot com

Thanks for the giveaway! :)

Andrea C. said...

When I think of steampunk I immediately think of Philip Reeves Larklight series Victorian families living on other planets? Fantastic

Please enter me into this draw I have wanted to read this since I first heard about it and saw the wonderful pictures too


My email

Sara said...

Well, when I first saw the term "steampunk" I thought of punk rockers and, well, steam. :)

Now that I know better though, some other things come to mind.
Like: Soulless, Gail Carriger, The Dark Materials Trilogy, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel...

BTW, I'd totally be interested in a steampunk challenge!

Great contest!

Raspberry said...

I suppose a train that is all punked out. Maybe with a belly ring. :)

Ellz said...

Steampunk is a new term for me, I only heard it about a month ago. The first thing that comes to mind is LARGE, TALL HATS and Goggles-big round goggles. And those frilly neck doilies-no idea what they are called. And dust-don't ask me why,but dust.


Kiara said...

When I read the term "steampunk" for the first time, I supposed that it was related with the punk culture and videogames, so I was really lost!

Thanks for this international giveaway! I'm from Chile ^^!



Jenny N. said...

I had never heard of the word "steampunk" or knew what it meant until I read your post.

To me steampunk an old rusty, bronze machine that produces steam for whatever reason.


Anonymous said...

I love Steampunk!! at first when I first heard of the word I always thought of steam engines. That was because my bf got me into it (he was reading Nomad of the Time Streams by Michael Moorcock) ever since then I was very interested in anything steampunk!

sensitivemuse at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Steampunk is a newish term for me. When I first heard the term, I thought it was some kind of music genre. But when I heard it in regards to books, I assumed it had something to do with steam machines.

She said...

Ah! Yes please! I had never heard of steampunk before you posted about it. From what you've said though, Steampunk reminds me of a mix between Stardust and Disney's Atlantis. And times that times a million!

ecaramil (at) gmail (dot) com

throuthehaze said...

Steampunk makes me think of Victorian look crossed with machinery/industrial.

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Mystica said...

Steampunk definitely makes one think of a train crossed with a punk who has found himself back in the Victorian age (a sort of rebirth backwards!!!)



Llehn said...

To me steampunk means a Victorian society that is technologically advanced. Is that an oxymoron?


holdenj said...

Steampunk was a new term to me as well. At first glance, I thought of some sort of combination music, like punk mixed with that group that uses garbage can lids.
I'm looking forward to Leviathan, would love to win!

Kathleen said...

Thw word Steampunk makes me think of design. It might be an up and coming style, a new furniture store in Manhattan, or a type of font.

Reading said...

Please enter me. Thanks for the chance. When I think of Steampunk I think of City of Ember.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Kristen said...

“What do you think of when you read the word ‘steampunk?’”

I had NEVER heard the word until I got my first review copy - Candleman The Society of Unrelenting Vigilence - which was described as steampunk. So I always fondly think back on that book every time I ever hear the word now.

a flight of minds said...

I actually have never really known what steampunk meant. I've heard it in passing and always thought it was some time of cosplay.

Alex (& Lauren) at aflightofminds(at)hotmail(dot)com

Memory said...

I think of the Victorian aesthetic first, followed by the technological focus. And automatons! I love me some automatons.

-- Memory
xicanti AT

Mozi Esme said...

Having not heard the term before, I honestly would have no clue what it means - I'm envisioning someone from the steam engine era with a punk hairdo... :)

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Wehaf said...

I think of Neil Gaiman, Miyazaki, and Philip Pullman. :)

urchiken at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

The first time I saw this word the image I saw in my mind was big steam train engines pushing out sprays of steam. People dressed fancy - women in long dresses with feathers in their hats. And then of course lots of trunks being loaded onto the train. No clue why I see that tho!

foltzsfantasticbooks at

Harry Larsen said...

Steam = hot
Punk = young, undisciplined youth

Steampunk = hotheaded young person that I'd rather not associate with.

Harry Larsen said...

Oh yeah. Forgot.

Blodeuedd said...

Cool I am in, I loved his Uglies series! :D

Steampunk, well read my first so I think Victorian London (or elsewhere) with a lot of inventions they did not had. A different timeline that means a very interesting world

I also think werewolves but that was cos of the book I read ;)

blodeuedd1 at gmail com

Zahra Alley said...

Hm, when I see the word 'steampunk' I imagine someone, possibly a cool someone, working away tirelessly on a new brassy invention, goggles on head, in London. And of course, steam drifting about lazily!


Thanks for this contest!

perian said...

When I see the word "steampunk" I think of this girl I used to work with who first told me about steampunk, and especially Kage Baker's Company books. It was my first bookstore job and we used to have a blast working together. Haven't seen her in a couple of years and now I'm thinking I should send her an e-mail!


brizmus said...

Enter me!

Oddly, when I think of steam punk, I don't think of books at all. The FIRST thing that comes to mind is the Miyazaki movie "Kiki's Delivery Service." Why, I have no idea.
When I actually think about it, though, I just imagine a really angry punk rocker.
I see him with his bright green mohawk and his Total Chaos leather jacket throwing bottles at the window of a store he just got kicked out of, his cute little puppy standing happily by, tongue lolling lazily out of his mouth.

Rue said...

I've heard some great stuff about this book. Thanks so much for the chance to win!

When I hear "steampunk" I always think of the machines. Big and brass with lots of pipework, exposed fasteners and blinking lights.

ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather G. said...

Steampunk? Hmmm, I was thinking kids dressed in punk outfits and they're really "steamed" about it! Boy, was I wrong! I would really love to win this book!

hmsgofita at hotmail dot com

Arlette Rodriguez said...

steampunk?? hmmmm i think of music lol

Ivana said...

When I think of steampunk, my first asocciations are Wild West with Will Smith, Van Helsing and this book, since it's actually the first one in that genre that grabbed my attention. Thanks for hosting this giveaway! I'll put it in my sidebar!

Ivana ivanaquick at gmail dot com

Rebecca said...

I've been hearing the word steampunk a lot lately and when I hear it I think of some kind of band of people who steam their hair up into spikes.


Lauren said...

When I think of the word steampunk, I think: videogames. Every now and then in videogames, I've found myself in a world which looks old-fashioned, but where the characters have achieved amazing technological feats - and I love it.


Zombie Girrrl said...

What do you think of when you read the word ‘steampunk?’?
I think of bustled ladies in crimson silk boarding gleaming, smog belching, horseless carriages, delicate scarves wrapped ornately around their painted mouths so they can breath. A sky where the sun never truly rises, just struggles to seep through the dense blanket of lung-clogging grey. A skyline dominated by brightly glinting skyscapers incased in brass jackets, with elevators creeping up and down their sides like glass beetles on grandfather clock trees. Men with tophats and cravats striding about importantly with clockwork hounds at their heals. And an underworld of rebelious urchins seeking to overthrow the aristocracy and take back the coal they pry from the resistant earth with bloodied fingers and pick-axes.
zombiegirrrl21 at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

When i hear 'steampunk' I think of aristocracy...fancy clothes...high-tech furturistic!

Anonymous said...

When I hear the word 'steampunk,' I think of automatons, the Victorian era, wacky inventions, and a really awesome combination of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Sab H. said...

Since I had no idea what it meant until I heard about Leviathan, when I hear it I think of music.


I Judge Books By Their Covers said...

I immediately think of steampunk fashion which i personally think is amazing. And i think if that strange movie with Will Smith. I think its called Wild Wild West? Yeah... :D
EMAIL: aeagle0010[at]aol[dot]com

Katie said...

Sadly, I had no idea what 'steampunk' meant until I read the definition you gave. I guess when I thought of it before, I though it would be a type of music. Oops I was wrong. =]

Marie said...

Honestly, I had no idea what Steampunk meant at all -- But now that I've read the definition it makes a lot more sense and I'd love to try it out!

Misty said...

I have read steampunk, so I should know better, but I can't help it. Every time I hear the word, I think of some little punk rock boy standing over a steaming grate in NY. It's a pretty silly image, but I can't stop. :}


pepsivanilla said...

When I hear the word steampunk...

I think tons of metal jewelry, corsets, dark rainy streets, off-the-wall fashion :)


Book~Adorer said...

steampunk first sounded like some kind of new version of goth or punk music/fashion to me, lol! I know I was so way off.
I love Scott Westerfelds books! I can't wait to read Leviathan.

Anonymous said...

I first heard the word Steampunk like half a year ago from the author Shelley Adina. It makes me think of those old trains with steam coming out of them and ofcourse, punk rock.

Thanks for the contest!!

Liviania said...

I think of all the awesome steampunk cosplayers I've seen, especially this one girl who did a Dr. Jekyll with a visible spine. It was delightfully gruesome yet aethestically pleasing.

inbedwithbooks AT yahoo DOT com

Chelsea S said...

Honestly I have never heard of the word steampunk. The first thing I think of when I see the word is a punk rocker jamming on top of a steam engine train. haha


-- Chelsea

in which a girl reads said...

I think of airships and Howl's Moving Castle (the movie).

April (BooksandWine) said...

To be 100% honest, every time I read the term Steampunk, I automatically picture punk rockers via Alvin and the Chipmonks with steam coming out of their ears. I know that is so weird, but I just don't picture Victorians in the future, or anachronisms like I should.

email is

Honey said...

What do you think of when you read the word ‘steampunk?’

The only thing that comes to my mind is gears and loud clicking noises.

Thanks for the contest!

ekta.p7 [at] gmail [dot] com

Emilia Plater said...

When I think steampunk, I think clanging gears, smoke, trains, grimy cities, badass girls on missions, wiry dresses, corsets, metal jewelry, and braids. :)


~The Book Pixie said...

I think of old fashioned technology. Smog filled air. Rough, poor streets and towns.


Marie (MUM) said...

Whe I hear steam punk I think: machines, pollution, poverty, brown and grey. Go figure.

Terrific giveaway! I'd love to win this. :D


Noella said...

Steam punk - I think it as a type of person who's always angry and is rebellious! :@ That's way off!

I learnt something today :D

CherylS22 said...

I had no idea what "steampunk" meant until today! I thought it was some kind of rock-n-roll genre ~ like punk rock but stepped up a notch.

Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

Midnight Cowgirl said...

Sounds like a great read! Steampunk is something I am just starting to explore, and I find the costumes fascinating.

akaleistar AT gmail DOT com

Chasen said...

I think of Victorian age steam where everything is fueled by fossil fuels. I also think you're kind and generous to offer up this book. Thanks for the chance to win ...really want to read it.

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