1. Sandfire
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    Sandfire Member

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    Gunpowder Fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Sandfire, Sep 20, 2013.

    I just heard about the 'gunpowder fantasy' sub-genre the other day--has anyone done any reading/writing in it? What is it?
     
  2. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    It's a cousin to Steampunk Fantasy, but there specific differences as well. Funny thing, wife and I watched a movie the other night, a remake of Beowulf (wasn't good, trust me), that could probably be put in this category.
    http://commonwealthchronicles.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/what-is-gunpowder-fantasy/
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, I'll bite. What, exactly, is "gunpowder fantasy", and what is it that makes it a separate genre?
     
  4. Sandfire
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    And is gunpowder fantasy, flintlock fantasy, and muskets and magic three names for the same thing, or are there differences there as well?
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    At least they're not calling it powderpunk.... Ugh. Enough with the -punk. [​IMG]
     
  6. Dresden260
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    Dresden260 Corrupt Diplomat

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  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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  8. Sandfire
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    My initial impression is that it is fantasy technologically progressed to the gunpowder age, incorporating other elements of fantasy such as magic, other races, etc, in a setting in which guns, cannons, muskets, and steam engines are used instead of swords and bows and arrows. That said, I only just heard of it the other day, so I'm hoping to find someone more experienced with the genre to either confirm or correct that.

    Is Brandon Sanderson's Alloy of Law a gunpowder fantasy, then?
     
  9. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Gunpowder fantasy sounds like a silly term. I don't know why fantasy is always applied to a Tolkien-like universe. Fantasy could be set around the modern era if it wants.
     
  10. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I'm in the same boat, just reading up on it today actually.

    From what I read, basically it's a Dark Age/Middle Age world with magic and the like, but with guns/cannons as well. I don't know, but if done well, I'd imagine it could be pretty fascinating. I'd love to see some themes explored through this method of storytelling. Such things as nature vs. man (magic vs. guns), or as a offshoot of that depending on how the magic is written, supernatural vs. natural man.
     
  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    From what you're describing World of Warcraft would be gunpowder fantasy.
     
  12. Sandfire
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    If I'm right, I think I may have finally found the sub-genre that my latest standalone novel fits into. It's definitely fantasy, with magic and a race of Fae, but it's set in more of a Victorian-esque time period, with the technology and firearms of the mid/late 1800s. If their interchangeable terms, though, I think I like the sound of flintlock fantasy better.

    It was a really fun world to explore, especially seeing how the magic system interacted with the technology.
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Gunpowder was invented in the 9th century; steam engines in the 19th. Not a particularly well-defined subgenre.
     
  14. DPVP
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    Considering how Europe was useing firearms in the 1340's but flintlocks came about around 161o you have a lot of history with other types. Considering the technology you see having gunpowder makes sense in lots of fantasy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  15. TLK
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    I imagine it's just Fantasy where gunpowder is used, simple as that.

    Gunpowder really annoys me in Fantasy genre though, every single time it seems to be something new that's just seeing use when the story is set and everyone looks on at it in wonder and fear. And it's normal called "[insert place name here] Fire". Siege scenes are usually a lot less entertaining when you can simply blow up a wall.

    Sorry for the mini-rant, just seemed like a great place to have it...
     
  16. DPVP
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    TLK that's why it it is such a great technology. It changed the game and hastened the rise ( or re rise) of infantry
     
  17. TLK
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    Oh yes, I'm aware it's been a huge boost for warfare in real life and it's really revolutionised it. It's just that, in my opinion, it can ruin Fantasy novels, or at least take a lot away from them.
     
  18. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    It sounds like it refers to that Regency/Colonial/Post-Renaissance period. Renaissance and earlier usually gets a standard "Fantasy" label (or Hard Fantasy, or High Fantasy), while later on, as you get closer to the Industrial Revolution, that's when it shifts over into Steampunk.
    The movie Brotherhood of the Wolf comes to mind, as does the Traitor to the Crown book series by CC Finlay. (Witches fighting in the American Revolution--good reads!)
     
  19. Joshua K Johnson
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    Joshua K Johnson New Member

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    As an author Gunpowder Fantasy, I work under this definitition (found on my website GunpowderFantasy.com)

    Gunpowder Fantasy: an alternate world story set in a world that uses gunpowder firearms (up to and including revolvers, but excluding magazine fed small arms or belt fed weapons), steam power (limited to rail transport and limited sea-going vessels) while also maintaining essential elements including some of the following elements: a fully-alternate world setting, magic, a feudal or semi-feudal setting, alternate races (including, but not limited to elves, dwarves, orc and other "traditional" fantasy races), and/or a broad-scale conflict.​

    WoW definitely falls more under Steampunk (the entire Dwarven/Gnomish world is fantastical steam powered).

    This is where Gunpowder Fantasy shines, as it mostly assumes that Gunpowder has existed for some period of time and is mostly a part of everyday life.

    And I consider "Gunpowder Fantasy" to be a sub-genre blanket term. "Muskets and Magic" and "Flintlock Fantasy", while mostly interchangeable, specify what period of gunpowder warfare the story is taking place in.

    Writing in Gunpowder Fantasy allows more freedom, in my opinion, than traditional fantasy because you can take advantage of the technologies of the gunpowder era without wandering into the fantastical creations of Steampunk.

    It's really nice to see more and more Gunpowder Fantasy emerging. When I first started writing The Cerberus Rebellion I spent several weeks looking for what to call my WIP. It's much more common now.
     
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  20. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    it's a bit ...how should I put it and not offend anyone.. well, I feel it's a bit idiotic to have a separate genre for something THAT specific - it differs from "classic" fantasy because the usage of gunpowder, but it's not steampunk because the economy is not early-capitalist… I dare say that it seems like this kind of strict "definitions" come from people who don't have a clue what the term genre actually means....
     
  21. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    My question: can you describe literary distinctions of a "gunpowder fantasy" genre = specific techniques, deviations, history of it as a sub-genre, standards, tropes and other characteristics ?
     
  22. Sandfire
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    Burlbird: I'm definitely not an expert on genres or subgenres, why they exist or how they are defined, but I feel like it was useful to have a succinct way to provide a specific context for my fantasy story. Until I stumbled upon the term, I always felt like I had to say my book was 'fantasy but with...' to differentiate between the typical fantasy setting (medieval/renaissance) and the era I had set my story (more of a Victorian-esque society.)

    Joshua: Welcome to the forums, and thanks so much! I found that very helpful. The book I just finished falls very nicely into gunpowder fantasy by that definition. I did not realize it there was a name for what I wrote when I did it--I was just going for a fresh setting beyond the swords and longbows of my other works. I'm intrigued now...toying with the idea of exploring it some more in later stories.

    Can you elaborate on flintlock fantasy a bit? What period of gun warfare does it cover?
     
  23. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Sandfire sorry if it sounded rude or anything, I just had to point it out... still I don't understand why is it bad to have to spend more than three words when introducing your story or its setting?

    "It's a fantasy story set in a Victorianesque world and post-feudal age"
    VS
    "it's a gunpowderpunk"
    ...I'd read the first one: it sounds genre-breaking, imaginative and fresh... The second one just sounds prescriptive...
     
  24. Sandfire
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    Yeah--at this point, nobody I've talked to has heard of gunpowder fantasy, so I still end up having to describe it along the lines of the former example. That said, I have found being able to provide a quick frame of reference for an agent in my query letter (where every word needs to count) to be quite valuable.
     
  25. Joshua K Johnson
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    I was in exactly the same boat when I started to write my book, The Cerberus Rebellion. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do, but I when I looked around there wasn't much else in the same vein. I considered both bumping it up to Steampunk and hauling it back to classical Fantasy, but I felt like that was a cop-out in favor of an easy-to-describe genre. So I decided to start calling it by Gunpowder Fantasy and see what happened.

    As far as "Flintlock Fantasy", I use this term for early gunpowder-era technology, before the invention of the percussion cap firing mechanism. Typically, this setting will also have no steam-engines.

    That's why I consider it a "sub-genre". As for styles, tropes etc, it's still a relatively new category so there isn't a very large sample size of authors or work to begin building a list of tropes.

    I typically use "epic fantasy, with guns" for my "short and to the point" description because that's what I was going for. Or "epic fantasy set in an American Civil War era" with is more specific to my work since I seem to fall on the later end of the technology tree.
     

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