PUNKED…4 Genres You Should Know

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In a publishing world where terms like steampunk, cyberpunk, and biopunk are batted around on a daily basis, you might be left scratching your head to understand exactly what those terms mean. Here’s a two-minute rundown on those persnickety labels…so get ready to be schooled in all things “punked.”

~Steampunk 101~

In a nutshell, steampunk is a sub-genre of scifi that typically takes place in an industrialized, steam-powered world. Here’s the Wiki page that gives more detail about its history and subculture. There’s a lot up to interpretation with the genre, so here’s another definition. And here’s some terminology to get started.

Steampunk is extremely aesthetic, and its current revival is largely accredited to fashion and art. Even in music, steampunk is largely identifiable by visual aesthetic. In terms of technology and theory, steampunk is very much about reimagining and exploring the bond between man and machine.

Now, in terms of publishing, steampunk titles have grown considerably over the past couple of years. Here’s a list of Goodreads titles to give a brief overview. Very popular in YA is Cinder, the first in a series by Marissa Meyer that modernizes traditional fairytales. Popular in paranormal romance is The Parasol Protectorate series, starting with Soulless, by Gail Carriger. Another favorite is All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen. And of course there are many others.

AetherWWAT Crew pick: Into Aether by L.M. Fry










Extra credit: The other punk genres

There are countless other related subgenres in scifi/speculative fiction. Here are the top contenders:

Reboot– Cyberpunk: “High tech, low life.” Think computers and extremely sophisticated, powerful technology in a futuristic world that is gritty and urban.

WWAT Crew pick: Reboot by Amy Tintera









Unwind-Biopunk: Like cyberpunk but with biology. Think unintended consequences of a biotech revolution, such as human experimentation and totalitarian governments.

WWAT Crew pick: Unwind by Neil Shusterman









-Dieselpunk: More of an art style—think pulp, film noir, and art deco—with steampunk-like tech based on the WWI/WWII era.

WWAT Crew pick: Leviathan by Scott Westerfield 









Extra extra credit…

Clockwork-Gaslamp fantasy: More a sub-genre of historical fiction and fantasy. Think steampunk but minus the technology/machinery and plus the gothic romance/horror themes.

WWAT Crew pick: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


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