Regarding Steampunk, I don't know if the following counts, and I didn't finish it, but there was:
The Difference Engine
May be you can enumerate more of the ones you didn't like
I think what I'm trying to say is that the original masters had a certain "ring of authenticity." Same goes for good sci-fi. Asimov, Brin, Brunner, Carr, Delany, Dick...climb the alphabet up to Zelazny and you'll see it. Many created immersive and believable settings and plots. They weren't consciously posturing with their stories. Which is something that plagues the Steampunk genre. About half the writers seem to treat it as a big joke. Or an elaborate parlor game. Much like the Sherlock Holmes and "bad Hemingway" pastiche writers do, except with those people, the avowed goal is to write the most wretchedly excessive work possible based on their favorite author's style.
I don't get that from "bad" Steampunk. The spoofs tend to be embarrassing failures. And most of the rest are either unreadable exercises in trying to sound Victorian or end up being unintentionally hilarious. And not in a good way.
I think the problem is that Steampunk is not currently being given respect it needs to become a valid sci-fi genre in it's own right. The whole name Steampunk (with that hipster 'punk' at the end of it) implies an antisocial element that wasn't much at the heart of the era it's based in. Victorian society was enamored of the notion of "progress" and fiercely nationalistic. If anyone ever had a "get with the program" and "hoist the flag" mindset, it was the Victorians.
I don't think most people who are writing Steampunk approach it that way. Most examples seem to have been written more as a stylistic exercise than anything else. And most are obviously written as one-offs. Almost as if the authors wanted to do one
just to get it out of their system before moving on to more recognized and respected sci-fi topics and settings.
Perhaps if they called it "historically themed science fiction" instead of "Steampunk" things might have turned out differently.
The closest I've seen so far to a genuine attempt to write a literary Steampunk novels is Gibson/Sterling's The Difference Engine
. Unfortunately that was a meandering and largely plotless story too despite it taking its subject matter seriously. It also suffered from being far too long. Most people figured out where the story was going to end up taking them no later than page 200. Which wouldn't have been too big a problem if there weren't 300+ additional densely written and rambling pages that followed. This book sorely needed some heavy-duty editing and revising - which it never got. The end result read more like a late draft rather than a finished book. Considering the quality of Gibson's and Sterling's solo work (both do know how to tell a good story BTW) I almost sense they got tired of The Difference Engine
long before they 'finished' it. And it shows.
Probably just as well since the average reader seems to have had the same experience. Most readers never finish it either.