John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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In Which I Search for a Genre

So I'm looking for works, ranging from novels to anime series, that have a particular vibe, and to pin a name onto the vibe in order to quickly get across what I have in mind.

Right now the best term I've got is "gaslamp fantasy," coined by Kaja Foglio to differentiate Girl Genius from steampunk. Here's a rough description of what I have in mind:

The genre is unapologetically fantasy, with magic and monsters and all that jazz, but it's got a more contemporary feel than the quasi-medieval default. It's a fantasy setting that's more comfortable with the whole industrial revolution thing, giving rise to airships, self-driving wagons, and Da Vinci-esque contraptions that work thanks to an arcane boost, as well as walking, talking clockworks and other flights of fancy.

How is this different from steampunk? Well it depends on your definition of steampunk. I tend to associate steampunk with quasi-historical (mostly-historical Earth, alternate-history Earth, Earth with the serial numbers shaved off) and probably mostly-scientific even if the science is sometimes made of rubber. Steampunk as a genre tends to also be darker and grimmer than I'm interested in-- hence the "punk" part.

The Eberron setting in D&D is a nice example of what I'm looking for: it has everburning streetlights instead of gas lamps, but it's got a lot of the more modern sensibility applied to a fantasy setting. If there was magic of the sort seen in many fantasy worlds, why would there be peasants in hovels and infantry marching against the dark lord? Instead there'd be cities made of floating towers, elementals fueling trains and goblin cab drivers! Harry Potter and Terry Pratchett's Discworld books play a lot with these ideas as well. Diagon Alley is not steampunk, but it's not Tolkien either.

Any thoughts, internet brain trust?

-The Gneech
Tags: eberron, fantasy, geekery, reading
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