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.
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.)
- The Windup Girl ~ Paolo Bacigalupi
- The Women of Nell Gwynne’s ~ Kage Baker
- New Amsterdam ~ Elizabeth Bear
- Crystal Rain ~ Tobias S. Buckell
- Scar Night ~ Alan Campbell
- Clockwork Angel ~ Cassandra Clare
- The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters ~ Gordon Dahlquist
- The City of Ember ~ Jeanne DuPrau
- Neverwhere ~ Neil Gaiman
- The Difference Engine ~ William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
- Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel ~ Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett (great historical education for kids!)
- Infernal Devices ~ K.W. Jeter
- The Affinity Bridge ~ George Mann
- Perdido Street Station ~ China Mieville
- A Nomad of the Time Streams ~ Michael Moorcock
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ~ Alan Moore
- Anno Dracula ~ Kim Newman
- Airborn ~ Kenneth Oppel
- The Anubis Gates ~ Tim Powers
- Boneshaker ~ Cherie Priest
- The Prestige ~ Christopher Priest
- The Golden Compass ~ Phillip Pullman
- Mortal Engines ~ Philip Reeve
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret ~ Brian Selznick
- The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer ~ Neil Stephenson
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ~ Jules Verne
- The Time Machine ~ H.G. Wells
- The Wizard Hunters ~ Martha Wells
- Leviathan ~ Scott Westerfeld
- Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology ~ Nick Gevers (ed.)
- The Steampunk Bible ~ Jeff VanderMeer
- Girl Genius Comic Strip: www.girlgeniusonline.com
- Exhibition Hall fan zine.
20 Best Steampunk Films (a sample only)
- Around the World in 80 Days
- Castle in the Sky
- The City of Lost Children
- The Golden Compass
- The Great Train Robbery
- Edward Scissorhands
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- The Illusionist
- Last Exile – Positional Play
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
- Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Perfect Creature
- The Prestige
- Sherlock Holmes (new)
- Van Helsing
- Wild Wild West
- Young Sherlock Holmes
5 Fun Websites Focused on Steampunk
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
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 JonesTags: Behind the Magic, Parasol Protectorate
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. 🙂
Sorry it's 4 years old, I don't update things that old.