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Steampunk: Where speculative fiction meets the Victorian era

Felicity Banks is the author of the exciting new novel: Heart of Brass published by Odyssey Books.

Steampunk is a speculative fiction genre inspired by the Victorian era.

Writers, cosplayers, and makers gleefully wear their corsets on the outside, glue cogs onto their hats, and don brass goggles at all occasions. They celebrate giants of science and engineering like Tesla, Bazalgette, and Lovelace. They write about mad scientists, cross-dressing heiresses, and multi-talented urchins. They fill their minds and stories with clouds of coal-smoke and fog, and the clatter and clank of steam engines, giant clocks, and complicated gadgets. They take the bits of history they like and ignore the rest, sometimes writing dark class-base satire, and other times writing gleeful adventures. They set their stories in London, in America, and in Outer Space.

In many ways, Australia in the 1800s was British. Children born in the land Down Under dreamed of going “home” to London. A handshake with a royal visitor caused international chaos. Women crossed deserts in ankle-length skirts. Empire-based racism killed dozens of Aboriginal nations. And men were shocked when soldiers attacked their stockade on the Lord's Day.

So why is so little steampunk set in Australia? We have convicts, gold rushes, political movements, charming outlaws, heartbreakingly nonchalant colonialism, and villainous police. We have mining, social change, and high adventure.

As I began to learn my own history, I discovered outrageous stories of real-life cross-dressing (both ways), steam-powered romance, secret tunnels under the goldfields, insane inventions, and a pregnant murderess who changed Australia forever.

I can't say too much without spoiling the book, but I assure you the least plausible parts are the closest to the truth.


Felicity Banks is a Canberra author specialising in fantasy and interactive

fiction, including several Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories that take place in the same magical steampunk universe as Heart of Brass. All her interactive fiction is listed under “Felicity Banks” at and most of her interactive fiction can be read as an app.

Heart of Brass is her thirteenth completed novel, her third novel accepted for publication, and her first novel to be published.

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