Below is an interview with Ken Lui about a new technological aesthetic he has created in some of his books that is the Eastern equivalent to Steampunk. This new aesthetic is featured in his first novel, The Grace of Kings.
“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.”
One key difference is that his world, Dara, is a group of islands. In order to move characters quickly from one island to another, Liu dreamed up new technology.
“The technology aesthetic I’m going for is what I call ‘silkpunk,’ which is of course analogous to steampunk,” he says. “[There are] battle kites, giant airships that are propelled by oars through the air instead of propellers, and even underwater boats.”