Check It Out: Steamed for bustles, bronze and goggles

Within the last decade, the concept of steampunk has begun to break away from being a niche subgenre and entered the mainstream. What is steampunk? Steampunk is blends reality and science fiction, presenting an alternate Victorian-era England or the Wild West where fantastical steam-powered machines, vehicles and inventions are everyday sights. This style makes for stark imagery, as Victorian architecture and dress are combined with bronze gears, brass goggles, valves and steam pipes in all shapes and sizes. Grab your kerosene lamp; it's time to read some steampunk!

"Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest: When an excavator accidentally unleashes a deadly gas under Seattle, the population flees in terror before the gas turns them into zombies. Years after the accident, Seattle has been blocked off and the survivors eke out an existence outside the city walls. Briar Wilkes, wife of Leviticus Blue (who built the excavator) struggles to live under the shadow of the Blight, raising a son who believes that there is more to his father than most people believe. When he makes his way into the ruined, zombie-filled city, Briar has no choice but to follow. Fun fact: Boneshaker was the nickname for a bicycle in 1869.

"Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld: It's World War I, but with a twist. The Austro-Hungarian Empire (referred to as Clankers because of their dependency on steam-powered, steel war machines) is searching for Prince Aleksander in order to revoke his claim to the throne after the death of his parents, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Princess Sophie Chotek. The British Empire (called Darwinists for their use of organics) is about to take the Leviathan, a massive, organic airship, on her maiden voyage. Deryn Sharp, a commoner with a love of flight, has entered the service and has a knack for airmanship. However, Deryn lives in constant fear of a secret being revealed: Deryn is a teenage girl disguised as a boy because the British Air Service does not recruit women.

"Howl's Moving Castle" directed by Hayao Miyazaki: The famed director of Japanese animated films adapts a story written by Diana Wynn Jones. The film tells the story of Sophie Hatter, a young girl who works in her father's hat shop. While running an errand, Sophie has a chance encounter with a mysterious man named Howl, who takes an interest in her. This raises jealousy within the feared Witch of the Waste who places a curse on Sophie, making her appear elderly. Setting out on her own, Sophie discovers a large, steam-powered castle that Howl calls home.

"The League of Extraordinary Gentleman" by Alan Moore: Alan Moore pens this graphic novel that feels like pure Victorian fan fiction, as he brings some of literature's most famous characters together in one volume. Wilhelmina Murray ("Dracula") is charged with putting together a team to combat the evils of the world. As she travels the world, Wilhelmina collects Allan Quartermain ("King Solomon's Mines"), Captain Nemo ("20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"), C. August Dupin ("The Murders in the Rue Morgue"), Hawley Griffin ("The Invisible Man") and Dr. Jekyll ("The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"). With the team assembled, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen remain vigilant against the forces that would do harm against the British Empire.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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