That's how you know a book is steampunk; if it's got gears on it
A close friend of mine and I have a running debate on steampunk. He thinks it's an inherently flawed genre, whereas I think it's a genre with the potential to be good, if done right.
I've been trying to prove him wrong, to little avail.
The heart of steampunk, from what I can tell, is the fantastical machines. Clockwork androids, aether flux shields, steam rifles and bicycle-powered flying machines. It's about a future that might have been, where mechanisms were just slightly less complicated and inventors only slightly more brilliant and insane. With a hammer, some wrenches, and a lathe, the dedicated professor can pound out some incredible piece revolution of precision engineering. It attempts to capture that era of uncertainty and excitement that surrounded the huge technical advancements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Any thing could have been made, anything could have been discovered
; the world was young and large and waiting to be explored.
That is a good setting for a genre. It has so much potential.
Sadly, I've found very little that really captures it.