Sources of Inspiration

While writing Wolsung, we drew inspirations from numerous comic books, works of literature and cinema, as well as various games. Below you will find some pieces especially worth recommendation.

New Steampupunk Stuff

The Difference Engine

Novel, Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, 1990.

The book which started the steampunk era. A number of historical figures are mentioned in the novel, such as Lord Charles Babbage, the inventor of the difference engine, Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace, a genius mathematician, or Captain Swing, the legendary leader of the working class’s protests. All this presented in the absolutely ingenious scenery of London, with all the city’s good and bad sides. A must-read. [See the Wikipedia article.]

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Comics, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, since 1999; film, Stephen Norrington, 2003.

This important graphic novel can serve as an overview of all the most important sources of our game, portraying the dark Victorian period in a very graphic, brutal and controversial way, and paying homage to the most influential books from, and about the era. This is the X-Men of the end of the 19th century, with a gallery of sensational characters and plenty of ideas. Another must-read. [See the Wikipedia article.]


Comics, Mike Mingola, since 1993, two full-length film adaptations, Guillermo del Toro, 2004 and 2008, animated series.

A huge red demon with an indestructible hand versus mad scientists, nazis, occultists, monsters, and ghosts. Plus the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. [See the Wikipedia article.]

The City of Lost Children

Film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1995.

A crazy, twisted dream, full of Victorian cityscapes, strange characters, and even stranger inventions. [See the Wikipedia article.]

The Death of the Necromancer

Novel, Martha Wells, 1998 – the Ile-Rien series.

A tale of magic and revenge, bathed in a dim glare of gaslamps.

Wild Wild West

Film, Sonnefeld, 1999.

Action-oriented, with colorful characters, plenty of great ideas. And a giant mechanical steam-spider! [See the Wikipedia article.]


Comics, Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo, since 2000.

A great series full of fantastic gadgets, unfortunately suspended after 12 volumes. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Computer game, Troika Games, 2001.

A bit archaic, but still engaging vision of Victorian fantasy in the cRPG style. [See the Wikipedia article.]


Comics, Kurt Busiek, 2003.

An alternative reality where magic really exists, while dragons and vampires fight on the front lines of the Great War. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Tomb Raider

Computer game, Core Design, 1996. film, Simon West, 2001.

A series of video games and two film adaptations. Lara Croft, the most famous female archeologist, in action. What more can we say? [See the Wikipedia article.]

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Film, Kerry Conran, 2004.

A great pilot, nazi criminals, Wunderwaffe, amazing robots, an airship mooring to the Empire State Building, a flying aircraft carrier, and Angelina Jolie’s lips. Plus the absolutely magnificent esthetics of s-f movies from the ‘50s. [See the Wikipedia article.]


Anime film, Katsuhiro Otomo, 2004.

An anime by the creator of the cult Akira. Victorian atmosphere, a great exhibition, a giant moving castle, intelligence rivalry, and fantastic inventions. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends

RTS computer game, Big Huge Games, 2006.

A very well made epic tale of a fight between three races – the technological Vinci, the magical Alin, and the sinister, Aztec-like Cuotl. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Van Helsing

Film, Stephen Sommers, 2004.

A tale of Dracula, campy at times, but with plenty of gadgets and really fast action. [See the Wikipedia article.]


Novel, Jacek Dukaj, 2007.

Amazing inventions and a stunning vision of Russia and the Kingdom of Poland, still frozen under the Tsar’s reign in the Belle Epoque. Frost emanations, astonishing technology by Doctor Tesla, and fights for monopoly in the cold iron trade. [See the Wikipedia article.]

The Mummy and The Mummy Returns

Films, Stephen Sommers, 1999 and 2001.

Mysteries of the past, crazy chases, hazardous action scenes, colorful characters, and antagonists worth remembering. [See the Wikipedia article.]

What Was in the Beginning…

All right, but what was before 1990 and the story from The Difference Engine? The answer is simple: a whole lot of sources, starting with the classics of literature, such as Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, through Jules Verne, the grandfather of science fiction, and the great-grandmother of the genre–Mary Shelley, the creator of Frankenstein, up to the action-packed pulp fiction about Cthulhu, Tarzan, or the Princesses of Mars. As usual in a good society, everyone knows a few titles, but they are presented here so you might know some others.

Jules Verne

Almost all of his novels and short stories constitute a great source of ideas for adventures, characters, and inventions. Besides, they are a really good read. We especially recommend: Five Weeks in a Balloon, From the Earth to the Moon, Around the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, and A Journey to the Center of the Earth. You may also be interested in our article 50 ideas for adventures based on Jules Verne’s works. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

All texts about Sherlock Holmes, for example the novels A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four, and The Valley of Fear, as well as more than 50 short stories. Amazing tales about the greatest detective of all times (and at the same time a dandy, a violin player, a boxer, and a morphine addict). Great ideas for the plot and the picture of London in gaslight. Also, do not forget to read The Lost World, a novel about a plateau in Venezuela where dinosaurs are still alive! [See the Wikipedia article.]


Novel, Mary Shelley, 1818; numerous film adaptations – recommended: Kenneth Branagh, 1994.

Absolute classics. A mad scientist, a monster brought to life by electricity, a journey to the pole. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

Collection of short stories, since 1840.

A great picture of the epoch and a very good source of ideas for adventures of crime and thrill. [See the Wikipedia article.]

King Solomon’s Mines

Novel, Henry Rider Haggard, 1885, numerous film adaptations, recommended – J. Lee Thompson, 1985.

An adventure-packed tale of the greatest white hunter, Allan Quatermain. Savage cannibalistic tribes, lost treasures of a legendary ruler, chases through the jungle and the desert, traitors, and hot, wild Africa. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Three Men in the Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

Novel, Jerome K. Jerome, 1889.

A magnificent story, full of British humor, about a river cruise up the Thames. Plenty of details concerning the everyday life of young gentlemen, tips how to make tea at a bivouac, a treatise about the Irish stew, and solving the mystery of the butcher’s boys. [See the Wikipedia article.]

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Novel, Oscar Wilde, 1890.

A story of an immoral dandy who put his youth in an enchanted picture. A perfect depiction of the times. [See the Wikipedia article.]

The Call of Cthulhu

And the rest of the works by Howard P. Lovecraft. Since 1917 the world of the Cthulhu Mythos has been providing uncanny and unspeakably blasphemous inspirations. The Necronomicon, possessed cultists, ancient gods, ghosts, artifacts, madness, the mafia, and lost primeval cities – everything you need. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Both science fiction and adventure literature classics. Tarzan of the Apes (and next several volumes), A Princess of Mars (and the whole series about John Carter on Mars) and The Land That Time Forgot – with a jungle full of dinosaurs. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Murder on the Orient Express

Novel, Agatha Christie, 1934.

Hercules Poirot, an irritating detective with a mustache, investigating a crime on a luxurious train. You may also get to know the rest of the novels about the Belgian dandy (almost 40) and their film adaptations. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Casino Royale

Novels, Ian Fleming, since 1953; films, since 1962.

And other novels and films about James Bond. Ian Fleming created the most recognizable icon of action literature and cinema, Agent 007, ready to protect the free Western world from any crime genius in the name of Her Majesty. Great plot twists, lots of ideas, and superb gadgets. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Doctor Who

TV series, since 1963.

Here you will find literally everything – amazing gadgets, crazy ideas, crime geniuses, maniacal scientist, spies, robots, and the mad Master. [See the Wikipedia article.]

Raiders of the Lost Ark

And other films, TV series, games, comics, and novels about Indiana Jones. A very spectacular and totally modern attitude towards the profession of an archeologist. Fast action and picturesque landscapes. Plus nazis, lost temples, magical artifacts… and more nazis! [See the Wikipedia article.]