If you follow publishing trends, or like to peruse the aisles in bookstores and libraries, you may have noticed a plethora of book covers that feature men and women in Victorian period garb wearing aviator hats with goggles perched on top. Behind them are flying machines and an assortment of gears, gadgets and gizmos reminiscent of another age. The word clockwork is often a part of the title. My dear reader, welcome to the world of steampunk.
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that sometimes, but not always, takes place in an industrialized late 19th century setting that features steam-powered yet futuristic machinery. In the blog Steampunk Scholar, Mike Perschon, who has a doctorate in steampunk literature (yes, really!) does a wonderful job of explaining the genre, which he states is "an aesthetic that mixes three features: technofantasy, neo-Victorianism and Retrofuturism." He also provides one heck of a reading list for your next dirigible trip, with many of the titles, such as those listed here, available at CPL.
Steampunk Prime: The introduction of this anthology is titled "When Steampunk was Real" as it is a collection of stories written at the turn of the 20th century.
Steampunk: An anthology of clockwork stories by authors such as Neil Stephenson, Michael Chabon, Michael Moorcock and James L. Blaylock.
Labeling something as a classic is always tricky, especially in genre fiction, but the following seem to end up on most lists.
The Time Machine: The classic of classics.