Worldshaker by Richard Harland is a steampunk / alternate history story with a strong social commentary. Although it's set in the present, it's a world of juggernauts walking over the earth and stopping only to refuel every few months. These juggernauts are in response to instability from the French Revolution.
While there is this well planned alternate history, the plot is all on a single juggernaut with a small range of characters. The protagonist is a teen named Col. He is heir to the position of Supreme Commander of the Juggernaut Worldshaker. It is the moving embodiment of the British Isles. Living on board is also Queen Victoria II and her consort. There are three strata to society: upper levels (the aristocracy), the lower levels (working class) and Below.
When Col meets an escaped Filthy who doesn't want to be converted into a Menial he's forced to re-examine how life on the Worldshaker works.
Although this book is written for middle grade readers, it's one of the most compelling steampunks I've read. Worldshaker both as a machine and a society is well realized and believable. Col's awakening to the injustices built into his world is well laid out and yet shocking.
Comment #1: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 at 00:54:27
Guess I'll add this to my wishlist too!
Comment #2: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 20:22:24
I hope you enjoy it!