Steampunk urban fantasy author and New York Times bestselling author Lynn Viehl contemplates how best to make her gadgets for her characters run. She came across an energy form known as steam power…


Writing a steampunk urban fantasy series is a lot of fun, especially when it comes to inventing new gadgets for my characters.  In my Victorian-era universe carriages, hot plates and even closets run on steam power.  And while the demands of living in the real world require more efficient forms of energy, I sometimes wonder if we aren’t missing some of the advantages of using steam technology.  For example, here are:

Ten Things That Might Be Improved By Steam Power

Bicycle:  The pipes would leave cool steam trails, and riding uphill would no longer be a problem for out-of-shape riders.

Floor Mop:  Self-propelled and doesn’t need a bucket of water — like a Swiffer on crack.

Food Processor:  While it chops your veggies it steams them, too.

Kite:  Launches instantly and flies as high and for as long as you like.  Could be used to sky-write messages as well.

Lavatory:  If you’re going to spend an hour sitting in there you might as well get in a sauna treatment.

Robot:  Switch him on and he can steam wrinkles out of your clothes, serve as a medical vaporizer for your sick child and give you a facial, all at the same time.  Must name it Stanley, yes?

Sewing Machine:  You wouldn’t have to iron your fabric before you sew it anymore.

Shoes:  We already have those sneakers with wheels — just add steam jets in the soles and you can cover a hundred miles a day on foot.  With a remote control, would also be very useful to parents trying to get their kids to the school bus stop on time.

Shovel:  When you get tired of shoveling snow you can just stand there and the exhaust from the shovel will melt it.

Smart Phones:  Tired of talking to the top of someone’s head?  Me, too.  So how would a steam-powered smart phone be an improvement?  After a minute it would be too hot to hold.


Personally I’d like to have a steam-powered alarm clock.  Not only would I never have to worry about oversleeping due to a power failure, but the alarm function would be a steam whistle — no snoozing through that!

Tell us what device you would want to see run on steam power! Answer in a comment below by 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 for your chance to win a copy of Disenchanted & Co.! Click here for complete contest rules.