From epic airship clashes to dragons versus zombies, here are the best battles of steampunk literature.
The Scar (China Miéville)
By some unseen power, the mighty New Crobuzon Navy has tracked down the floating pirate city of Armada. The ensuing naval battle is on an epic scale with ships, airships cannons, golems and a vampire cleanup party. A perfect blend of steampunk and fantasy, where the reader isn’t sure exactly who they are rooting for.
Armada is a pirate civilization that is a floating city. It is a square mile of ships tied together and dragged across the Bas-Lag sea.
New Crobuzon is the Rome of Bas-Lag. It’s a city-state and the most powerful know force in the world of Bas-Lag.
Iron Council (China Miéville)
This battle is epic because the New Crobuzon Militia follows the Iron Council across the Cacotopic Stain with a battle being fought within the city between the mayor’s militia and a rebellion sparked by the mythic Toro. The Battle of the Iron Council is more symbolic as its outcome won’t actually lead to any strategic advantage. And by the time the Iron Council seizes victory and does return, it might be too late to have any impact on the greater war.
At the Queen’s Command (Michael A. Stackpole)
This is basically the American Revolution fought with dragons and zombies. The story is very detailed and makes this fictional history seem as though perhaps it is in someway real.
Whitechapel Gods (S.M. Peters)
A classic storm-the-castle street fight between warring gods.
The Court of the Air (Stephen Hunt)
This battle includes the Jackals and the steam-men kingdom versus an ancient insect-like army. The follow-up novels include epic ground and air battles as well.
A Red Sun Also Rises (Mark Hodder)
This battle features first- and second-generation descendants of the Yatsill fighting one another on a Pepperland-style planet. It caps a weird and wonderful Mark Hodder tale.
Art on this page by Alexander Koshelkov.
This story is part of the archive of Steampunk Books, Kevin Steele’s website of hackneyed steampunk book reviews and lists (2016-20). Click here for the full archive.