Paul Di Filippo, whose Steampunk Trilogy originally made me fall in love with the subgenre, surveys the state of steampunk literature, and he is pleased. In his witty essay, he points to Monty Python's Terry Gilliam as a steampunk progenitor.
Writing for Barnes & Noble Review (and, via republishing, Salon), Di Filippo assesses the literary world of steampunk. Usually, when a subgenre goes mainstream and gets written up in the big media, that means it's run out of (pardon the pun) steam, and there are no new ideas left. But Di Filippo says that's not the case here, and he cites a diverse range of recent books, from Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan to Cherie Priest's Boneshaker to Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett's Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel, to prove it.
And then, discussing Dexter Palmer's debut novel The Dream Of Perpetual Motion, he makes the brilliant point about Terry Gilliam:
The ex-Python gets too little credit as an outlier of the steampunk movement. Films such as "Time Bandits" and, essentially, "Brazil," certainly share affinities with hardcore steampunk, and Palmer echoes Gilliam's method, moving his characters through an insulting, humiliating, and needlessly complex and hostile environment — in this case, the city of Xeroville. But, as in Gilliam's films, it's also an environment that offers glimpses of magic and wonder.
We've already reviewed Leviathan and Boneshaker, and Di Filippo's writeup makes me want to track down a copy of the other two books as well. [Salon]