Monday, December 20, 2010

In Which We Discuss Gaslamp Fantasy

Hi everyone, how was your weekend? Mine was full of fun and less than ideal sleep (also on a completely separate note, as I'm writing this I'm watching Karate Kid and you know what rocks? The 80s).

I have a question: How many of you know the difference between Steampunk and Gaslamp Fantasy? *counts raised hands* OK that's about what I thought.

Let's have a brief discussion about these cousins.

Steampunk: steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them

Gaslamp Fantasy: is a sub-genre, also called gaslight romance, of fantasy literature, having the Victorian/Edwardian era as background. It differs from contemporary steampunk, which has a much more super-science and tone.


A good way to separate the two is by asking yourself, "can I remove the steampunk technology/gadgetry and still have a story?" If the answer is no, you're probably writing Steampunk. If the answer is yes, then you're probably writing Gaslamp Fantasy.

A fun history of the term Gaslamp Fantasy is that it was first coined by artist Kaja Foglio (from Girl Genius, one of my fav webcomics) She coined it because, at the time Girl Genius was coming out, there was also a comic out called Steampunk and she didn't want any confusion. So she referred to Girl Genius as Gaslamp Fantasy, a term she misquoted from a book referring to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

Gaslamp Fantasy stories are typically not so focused on the machinery, and oftentimes the technology is just in the background.

Now, since we had a fun little discussion, time for some steampunk/gaslamp fantasy pics!





25 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

I had no idea there was such a sub-genre, great breakdown Sarah!

I always thought of steampunk as being like that role playing game Shadowrun, but that isn't quite right either.

Lola Sharp said...

I love that first girl's skirt SO MUCH.

And, I loves me some steampunkery.

Happy Monday, Sarah. :)

aspiring_x said...

i've never heard of gaslamp fantasy either! of course, i don't write steampunk stuff... but i highly appreciate the steampunk artistry! that stuff is so uniquely beautiful!! :)

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Matthew - i'm not familiar with that RPG. But if it's even remotely steampunk, it has to be awesome

Lola - i know, right? I also want some awesome victorian boots. Scratch that - i NEED some also victorian boots

Aspiring - isn't it? I wish i was more crafty regarding costumes and junk

yokohamamama said...

Ooohh--love all those steampunk weapons and gadgets! Reminds me of saturday art that my sis posted at her blog. Her neighbor worked on the movie Coraline and also produces art that looks like the things in those photos up there--truly awesome stuff!

Misha said...

I've never read anything in either of these genres, but the idea intrigues me.

hmm...

:-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd heard of the term gaslight through the RPG Call of Cthulhu.

Teebore said...

You really should Netflix Steamboy, what with your love of Steampunk and all.

I'm watching Karate Kid and you know what rocks? The 80s

Ha! Indeed. "Sweep the leg, sweep the leg!"

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Yokohama - thanks for the link - that art is awesome!

Misha - dive in! It's a lot of fun!

Alex - ooh, call of Cthulu - good times

Teebore - i believe i've seen steamboy. I'm almost postive i have. I don't remember much about it though.
I love how many evil karate teachers there are in the karate kid franchise

Teebore said...

@Falen: I love how many evil karate teachers there are in the karate kid franchise

Seriously! It's like the hierarchy of villainy in that world is

1. Serial Killer
2. Super Villain
3. Karate Instructor

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Gaslamp fantasy sounds pretty cool :) I could get into that.

I've recently discovered what's been called 'steampunk hip hop'. It's a British artist called Professor Elemental. he wears a safari hat and drinks tea, it's pretty awesome :P

Suzi McGowen said...

I love both steampunk and gaslight fantasy, though I think it's harder to find good GF.

Am I helping? Nooo.. my next WiP is steampunk, not GF :)

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Teebore - LMFAO! SO true!

Jamie - that sounds awesome

Suzi - i think i typically write right on the line between the two

roxy said...

The gaslamp fantasy subgenre sounds very interesting. Thanks for the information, Sarah. Merry Christmas!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

LOL Sarah & Teebore, I am cracking up at the discussion of Karate Kid villainry...!

Steampunk fascinates me, because I think it would be completely beyond my capabilities to write it, lol. I would have no idea where to begin. But I enjoy reading it, and there was a really fun Steampunk-based episode of Castle this season! Can't say I really enjoyed the Steampunk doll movie 9... too many holes in the plot.... but like I said, my own steampunk writing would be much worse! ;)

Kelly Dexter said...

I love steampunk!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Well, that was a fascinating refinement of the genre. Thanks!

Amber Cuadra said...

Woah... I think my last novel is gaslamp. That's really awesome! I knew it was bordering on Steampunk, and I was calling it Steampunk because it definitely wasn't any other genre, but now I know exactly what it is. Cool!

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! The Gaslamp Fantasy sounds more my thing--I don't like the machinery aspect of sci-fi either... I just am not interested in gadgets particularly... So... what is CYBERpunk? That is another one I've heard...

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Roxy - anytime and same to you!

Dangerous - ooh yeah, i LOVED that episode of Castle. I would totally go to that bar
Also, 9 was more along the lines of stitchpunk, but that's just really breaking it down too far

Kelly - me too! It's awesome!

Tricia - you're welcome!

Amber - i like gaslamp almost as much as steampunk. It's a fun ride regardless

Hart - what about gadgets that could lead to tartish nudity? ;)
Cyberpunk is features advanced science, such as cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order. High tech, low life.

Naomi Ruth said...

Huh. I hadn't heard of Gaslamp Fantasy. Very interesting.

And...

Pfffffahahahahaha.... I love that Abraham Lincoln one. I think I'm going to die... ahahahaha...

Holly Ruggiero said...

I didn’t know the diff. Thanks. And the pictures are cool.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Naomi - Abe Lincoln is totally badass!

Holly - the pictures were a good 50% of why i wanted to write this post

Talli Roland said...

I didn't even know what Steampunk was until recently, so thank you for the definition!

sjp said...

Killer photos, theres always interesting forms of shoot offs from every genre, I don't think you can go wrong with having steampunk in the background :)

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