Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.
Reading some of the most incredible books is how I got introduced to the world of steampunk. Many of the classics were actually written in the 19th century, but it's amazing to see how the genre has expanded and continued even to this day.
Steampunk can be Gothic (Shelly's Frankenstein), pure science fiction and fantasy (Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), alternative history (Priest's Boneshaker), and even Western (Rensick's The Doctor and the Kid). Or heck, combine all of them!
My first foray into steampunk was H.G. Wells' 1985 classic, The Time Machine. I was captivated with the idea of building a time machine using only Victorian technology...going forward in time and fighting the Morlocks in 802,701 A.D.
I then started reading Jules Verne and delved into the mysterious worlds of A Journey to the Center of the Earth (which has been made into a movie about a bazillion times) and of course, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea where we learn of Captain Nemo and his amazing submarine, The Nautilus.
And of course, you have Scott Westerfield's YA series, The Leviathan Trilogy. It also takes place in an alternative history, and a strange version of World War I where the Clankers, with their deadly machines, battle the Darwinists, who utilize biological weapons.
With steampunk books going in all new directions, it's an exciting time for the genre. It's full STEAM ahead!
Below is a pretty comprehensive list of steampunk books. Although not nearly all-encompassing, I hope you will give one, or two, or a dozen a try.
Anderson, Kevin J. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Pocket Star, 2003.
Baker, Kage. Not Less Than Gods. Burton. Subterranean Press, 2010.
Bear, Elizabeth. New Amsterdam. Far Territories, 2007.
Blaylock, James P. The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives. Subterranean Press, 2008.
Carriger, Gail. Soulless--The Parasol Protectorate: Book the First. Orbit Books, 2009.
Dahlquist, Gordon. The Dark Volume. Bantam, 2009.
Di Filippo, Paul. The Steampunk Trilogy. Four Walls Eight Windows, 1995.
Ewing, Al. El Sombre: Pax Britannia Series. Gardena: Abaddon Press, 2007.
Flaming, Matthew. The Kingdom of Ohio. Amy Einhorn Books, 2009.
Foglio, Phil & Kaja. Girl Genius: Omnibus Edition #1.Studio Foglio, 2006.
Frost, Mark. The 6 Messiahs. William Morrow and Co. 1995.
Gevers, Nick. Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology. Solaris, 2008.
Giambastiani, Kurt A. The Year the Cloud Fell. Roc, 2001.
Gibson, William & Sterling, Bruce. The Difference Engine. Bantam Books, 1992.
Gray, Nathalie. Full Steam Ahead. Red Sage Publishing, 2010.
Green, Jonathan. Unnatural History: Pax Britannia Series. Abaddon Press, 2007.
Guinan, Paul, & Bennett, Anina. Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel. Abrams Image, 2009.
Jeter, K.W. Infernal Devices: A Mad Victorian Fantasy. New American Library, 1987
Judson, Theodore. Fitzpatrick’s War. DAW Books, 2004.
Lake, Jay. Mainspring. Tor Books, 2007.
Lansdale, Joe R. Zeppelins West. Subterranean Press, 2001.
Lowachee, Karin. The Gaslight Dogs. Orbit, 2010.
Lupoff, Richard. Into the Aether. Dell, 1974.
MacAlister, Katie. Steamed: A Steampunk Romance. Signet, 2010.
MacLeod, Ian R. The House of Storms. Ace Books, 2005.
Mann, George. The Affinity Bridge. Tor Books, 2009.
Maumejean, Xavier. The League of Heroes. Manuella Chevalier, Trans. Black Coat Press, 2005.
Mellon, Mark. Napoleon Concerto: A Novel in Three Movements. Treble Heart Books, 2009.
Miéville China. Iron Council. Del Ray Publishing, 2005.
Michael Moorcock. A Nomad of the Time Streams: A Scientific Romance. White Wolf, 1995.
Newman, Kim. Anno Dracula. Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1993.
Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. HarperCollins, 2004.
Palmer, Dexter. The Dream of Perpetual Motion.St. Martin's Press, 2010.
Pagliosotti, Dru. Clockwork Heart. Juno books, 2008.
Peters, S.M. Whitechapel Gods. Roc, 2008.
Pondsmith, Michael Alyn. Castle Falkenstein: Adventures in the Age of Steam. Talsorian Games, 1994.
Powers, Tim. The Anubis Gates. Ace Science Fiction Books, 1983.
Priest, Cherie. Boneshaker. Tor, 2009.
Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. Random House, 1995.
Pynchon, Thomas. Against the Day. Penguin, 2007.
Reeve, Phillip. Infernal Devices. 2005. Harper Collins, 2007.
Rucker, Rudy. The Hollow Earth. 1990. Monkeybrain Books, 2006.
Rutoski, Marie. The Cabinet of Wonders: The Kronos Chronicles Book 1. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008.
Sedia, Ekaterina. The Alchemy of Stone. Prime Books, 2008.
Smedman, Lisa. The Apparition Trail. Tesseract Books, 2007.
Stephenson, Neal. The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. Bantam Books, 1996.
Stirling, S.M. The Peshawar Lancers. ROC, 2003.
Vandermeer, Ann, and Jeff, eds. Steampunk. Tachyon Publications, 2008.
Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan. Simon Pulse, 2009.
Wooding, Chris. Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay 1. Gollancz, 2010.
Wrede, Patricia C. Thirteenth Child. Scholastic Press, 2009.