Imagine a world where steam and natural gas, not coal and electricity, are the primary power sources. Steampunk transports us to a place abounding with airships, gas lamps, gears, cogs, and brass goggles and populated with mad scientists, philosophers, adventurers, and air pirates. Steampunk stories are filled with exploration, optimism, curiosity, technology, and rebellion. They boldly go new places, explore and invent new things, and ponder the what ifs and never wases of technology and history. HG Wells and Jules Verne are huge inspirations for Steampunk. Examples include League of Extraordinary Gentleman and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker.
It seems to me that by its very nature Steampunk is a genre meant to challenge itself. Lately, Steampunk has grown from its SciFi roots to really cross genres and boundaries. We have paranormal Steampunk, like the popular Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger and God Save the Queen by Kate Locke. We have “steamypunk.” We have clockpunk with steampunkatude. We have steampunk retellings of classic stories, like Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. In YA especially, there’s a whole crop of steampunk mashups, where authors explore the breadths and depths of steampunk to the very limit, sometimes creating something new altogether.