Steampunk Research & Resources

World Building an Alternate Victorian World

I’ve been on numerous panels on this subject, Gentle Reader, not to mention being asked this question at various signings. So I thought I might provide a blog of my most frequently asked questions about researching Victorian London and steampunk.

Gail Carriger Mike Perschon Reading Steampunk Scholar

What type of research did you have to do while writing the Parasol Protectorate series?

I had a fair bit of expertise in certain aspects of the era (fashion, food, manners, literature, theatre, upper class courting rituals, antiquities collecting) when I started but great gaps in other areas that I quickly realized needed to be filled.

I spent a lot of time researching the gadgetry and technology of the day, travel and communications techniques, medical and hard science advances, not to mention other things like major wars and military strategies, configuration of army regiments, geographical lay out of London in the 1870s (shops and streets names), newspapers, and government policies.

I also looked into vampire and werewolf lore at the time. That’s the thing, you never know what information you are going to need until you need it, and inevitably the internet doesn’t have it. Since I’m writing alt history I can always disregard the facts, but I like to get it right first, before I mess with it. Most people won’t care to look up the details (or get it wrong by confusing my setting with Austen or mid–Victorian, I’m specifically 1773) but even if it doesn’t make it into the book, it will irritate me if unwritten background information is flawed.

Some resources pertaining to STEAMPUNK

Beck, Ulrich. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity deals with the subject of Reflexive Moderization recommended by the Steampunk Scholar for those interested in steampunk as a social movement.

33 Formative Steampunk Books & Magazines

(This is only a sample but the best way to understand steampunk is simply to read some of it.)

  1. The Windup Girl ~ Paolo Bacigalupi
  2. The Women of Nell Gwynne’s ~ Kage Baker
  3. New Amsterdam ~ Elizabeth Bear
  4. Crystal Rain ~ Tobias S. Buckell
  5. Scar Night ~ Alan Campbell
  6. Clockwork Angel ~ Cassandra Clare
  7. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters ~ Gordon Dahlquist
  8. The City of Ember ~ Jeanne DuPrau
  9. Neverwhere ~ Neil Gaiman
  10. The Difference Engine ~ William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
  11. Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel ~ Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett (great historical education for kids!)
  12. Infernal Devices ~ K.W. Jeter
  13. The Affinity Bridge ~ George Mann
  14. Perdido Street Station ~ China Mieville
  15. A Nomad of the Time Streams ~ Michael Moorcock
  16. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ~ Alan Moore
  17. Anno Dracula ~ Kim Newman
  18. Airborn ~ Kenneth Oppel
  19. The Anubis Gates ~ Tim Powers
  20. Boneshaker ~ Cherie Priest
  21. The Prestige ~ Christopher Priest
  22. The Golden Compass ~ Phillip Pullman
  23. Mortal Engines ~ Philip Reeve
  24. The Invention of Hugo Cabret ~ Brian Selznick
  25. The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer ~ Neil Stephenson
  26. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ~ Jules Verne
  27. The Time Machine ~ H.G. Wells
  28. The Wizard Hunters ~ Martha Wells
  29. Leviathan ~ Scott Westerfeld
  30. Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology ~ Nick Gevers (ed.)
  31. The Steampunk Bible ~ Jeff VanderMeer
  32. Girl Genius Comic Strip: www.girlgeniusonline.com
  33. Exhibition Hall fan zine.

20 Best Steampunk Films (a sample only) 

  1. Around the World in 80 Days
  2. Castle in the Sky
  3. The City of Lost Children
  4. The Golden Compass
  5. The Great Train Robbery
  6. Edward Scissorhands
  7. Howl’s Moving Castle
  8. Hellboy
  9. The Illusionist
  10. Last Exile – Positional Play
  11. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  12. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
  13. Perfect Creature
  14. The Prestige
  15. Sherlock Holmes (new)
  16. Stardust
  17. Steamboy
  18. Van Helsing
  19. Wild Wild West
  20. Young Sherlock Holmes

5 Fun Websites Focused on Steampunk 

  1. The Steampunk Scholar
  2. Datamancer
  3. The Steampunk Workshop
  4. The Insect Lab
  5. The Aether Emporium

Want still more? Here’s a full post on

research tips and resources for writing a Victorian era setting

Here’s a fun interview I did about the writing and marketing side of being a steampunk author.

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

Want more?

25+ Tips for Researching Victorian Set Steampunk

All About Steampunk Fashion from Author & Style Maven Gail Carriger

Gail’s Daily Dose

Your Tisane of Huh?

The Old Foodie on Milk Soup

Quote of the Day:

“Writing for adults, you have to keep reminding them of what is going on. The poor things have given up using their brains when they read. Children you only need to tell things to once.”

~ Diana Wynne Jones

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. utauda14 said:

    The links to "Victorian servants (domestic staff)," "Ladies Journal," and " All about dress elevators" are dead, so they need to be replaced. This blog post is very helpful, by the way! Thank you for always taking the time to look up and post info for your fans. 🙂

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