A number of steampunk romances feature characters that have been mechanically modified in some way. Usually the transformation occurs through the use of prosthetics or other artificial parts. Steampunk cyborgs, as it were.
The primitive nature of the prosthetic devices is particularly compelling. It’s simultaneously fascinating and scary to contemplate having a prosthetic that’s ahead of its time but falls short in terms of modern technology. Many of the prosthetics depicted in steampunk romances wouldn’t work in real life, but their fantastical nature is fun to imagine.
Characters with artificial limbs sometimes face prejudice and scorn during the course of the story. As a result, they must decide on how to cope with the resulting feelings of shame or inadequacy. Readers of these stories are invited to question their assumptions about the nature of humanity. A related theme is how powerfully love can validate one’s self-worth and become a conduit for healing and trust building.
Here are some steampunk romances featuring characters with prosthetics:
Far From Broken – J.K. Coi (heroine has prosthetic limbs and organs)
Skies of Steel – Zoe Archer (“Man O’ War” heroes have “telumium” implants)
Island of Icarus – Christine Danse (hero has prosthetic arm)
Nights of Steel – Nico Rosso (hero has prosthetic arm)
A variety of characters have prosthetic limbs in Meljean Brook’s The Iron Seas series
Wild Cards and Iron Horses – Sheryl Nantus (hero wears a prosthetic device on his arm)
Automatons are a big staple of the steampunk genre. Their roots are in real life automata, which are “non-electronic moving machines.” In fact, automata date back to the ancient Greeks.
Automata in steampunk romances have a variety of forms, but what I’d like to focus on is the idea of steampunk automatons fashioned after the human body. The idea of Victorian-era androids driven by steam or clockwork power (or other sources, depending on the story) is a very powerful idea with loads of creative possibilities. Fantastical? Yes. Intriguing and thought-provoking? Definitely.
In some steampunk romances, automatons are secondary characters while in others, they may be the hero or heroine. However, these stories aren’t necessarily about kinky sex with a mechanical lover or weird for the sake of being weird. Romances involving automaton lovers are rich in themes: what it means to be human, diversity and acceptance, identity and self-worth, and our relationship with technology, among others.
There’s often a big mystery element in these stories as well. What will happen when the automaton’s true nature is discovered? That kind of secret can build tension like no other.
Stories featuring automaton lovers:
This Winter Heart – P. G. Forte
Far Too Human – Anitra Lynn McLeod
The Watchmaker’s Lady – Heather Massey
Steampunk romance stories featuring automatons as secondary characters:
Steamrolled – Pauline Baird Jones
Like Clockwork – Bonnie Dee
Miss Minnie and the Brass Pluggit – Sahara Kelly
Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts – Heather Massey
Automaton lovers and steampunk cyborgs are one way steampunk romance offers variety and diversity to readers. These characters entertain with their unusual nature while also providing another perspective about love and romance.
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About the author
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.
The West just got a whole lot wilder.
A woman on a mission… Scientific achievement isn’t enough for Violet Whitcomb. Life working alongside her renowned scientist father is filled with intellectual challenges, but what she truly craves is love and adventure. She’s resigned to a fate of academic pursuits–until a fateful trip across the American frontier changes everything. A rogue inventor known as the Iron Scorpion kidnaps Violet’s father and she alone is left to plan his rescue.
A man with a secret… Logan McCoy knows firsthand going up against the Iron Scorpion is suicide, but he can’t let Violet waltz into the villain’s lair alone. She may be a stranger, but she’s also the most compelling woman he’s ever known.
A perilous quest… Their attraction is undeniable, but their alliance turns contentious when Violet insists on including a third partner on their mission: her father’s latest invention and the world’s most advanced automaton, Arthur. The reason for Logan’s resistance isn’t clear until Violet comes face-to-face with the Iron Scorpion’s diabolical devices, and by then, it’s far too late.