Martin H. Greenberg
The term was keyed in the late 1980's, this genre throws itself in the Victorian era's Industrial age. With heavy influence from Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and shows like Wild Wild West (1965-69) it often places the characters upon a back drop of the incredible machines, heroic men and delicate ladies (if they play a role at all) that filled the stories of these authors of the past.
Let me preface this with the fact that one of my favorite genre's is Steam Punk. I do not dress up in steam punk clothes and goggle. I do not attend Steam Punk conventions. But even before I bought my copy of the 1994 release of the role-playing game Castle Falkenstien (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Falkenstein_(role-playing_game) ) I've been enamored by the idea of massive steam powered engines of gears and pistons driving great dirigibles, submarines, spacecrafts and burrowing machine into the unknown wilds. Wilds where men, idealist like Nemo and Robar or horrid cowards like Flashman brave for God, Country and Crown or to push away these same ideals. Well....
Even though SteamPunk'd was given the Top Choice Award by Flamingnet I think theres not enough Steam here. As for being Punk'd that was me, for buying the book. Classic archetypes define this genre as much as the settings and paraphernalia. Most of these stories fell far short in there attempt at conveying these things. They either drowned us with one thing or starved us of another. We want our characters to live in the genera not live as an excuse for the genre.
As much as I love the Steam Punk genre the book was painful. I am not one to put a book down, unfortunately, I will hold out and work my way through it in hopes that at some point the book/ story will come to some great ending and maybe I can gleam some little bit of wisdom or entertainment out of it that will have made the trip worth while. It only happened once in this book
Scourge of the Spoils by Matthew Mayo
This is one of the best short stories I've read in a long time. The setting is given directly, letting you know what the world is like without being overstated. Your left wanting to hear more but give everything you need for the story. Characters, in the story, feel real. Their introduced as needed and, like the setting, your given enough of their background to see where their motivations lie and left wanting to know more about them too. By the end your left amazed by the twist that you know you should have seen coming but, I'm sure, you didn't.
Bravo Matthew Mayo, I'll defiantly be checking out some of your other work.
For more about Mr Mayo and list of his works check out his Webpage: http://matthewmayo.com/
As for SteamPunk'd if your looking for a good example of the genre this is NOT the book you want. Save yourself $7.99 plus Tax.