I first heard the term silkpunk in my writer’s group. Intrigued, I bought Ken Liu’s book The Grace of Kings. Liu describes his book as a fantasy book focusing on the Chu-Han Contention (206 B.C.E. – 202 B.C.E). This is an intense book. It has not been a book that I’ve been able to read quickly. However, the world building in this book is phenomenal.
“The way that China has been described in Western narratives makes it hard to tell a story that will escape the stereotypes and allow people to perceive it fresh,” he says. “So I decided to create a new fantasy world that’s based on and inspired by East Asia, and by China in particular, but not directly analogous to it.” Ken Liu (citation)
The underlinings of the book are very similar to the heart of the punk genre. There are airships, like in steampunk, but these airships are made with silk and bamboo. There is a marginalized class of people who choose to stand and fight the ruling class. Technology has been reinvented using the same materials available during the time, but with a slight twist and creative license.
I am about a third of the way through this book. It is an adventurous read that any epic fantasy lover will enjoy.
In researching for this post, I did not find any other examples of silkpunk. This seems to be a new and wide open category in genre writing.