Sword & Sorcery: "An earthier sort of fantasy" discussion

About Sword & Sorcery > S&S and Steampunk?

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message 1: by John (new)

John Meszaros | 16 comments What does everyone think about the concept of combining Sword and Sorcery with Steampunk tropes? I know most Steam Punk tends to be flashy and optimistic, which is pretty much the opposite of S&S. But looking at history, the real world Age of Steam and the Industrial Revolution was a dark, desperate time for the majority of people.

I could easily see a story that showcases characters surviving through the exploitation, crime and pollution that underlies the fantastic airships, glinting gears and art nouveau decor. Perhaps steam technology could even substitute for the dark, dangerous magic of S&S. Instead of fighting sorcerers calling up alien horrors, protagonists could face industrial barons commanding steam-powered automatons that would be just as nightmarish and alien as any extradimensional monster to the average person living in the cramped tenements of the city.


message 2: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2220 comments Mod
John wrote: "What does everyone think about the concept of combining Sword and Sorcery with Steampunk tropes? I know most Steam Punk tends to be flashy and optimistic, which is pretty much the opposite of S&S. ..."

I know only of a few examples of Sword & Steampunk.

Would welcome more.

message 3: by T.C. (new)

T.C. Rypel (tedrypel) | 122 comments Interesting contemplation, Seth.

You've already cited, elsewhere, how in my Gonji series I actually flirted with that genre-crossing concept, albeit in a book I wrote in 1982, before Steampunk was a thing.

I used it rather more noticeably, perhaps, in the outlining of a later, as-yet-uncompleted Gonji series entry---the novel THIS FORTRESS FOREVER---with proto-scenes involving somewhat "clunky" conveyances, powered by unknown or misunderstood sources. This is, after all, FANTASY at its core. I've never been one to stand on pure sub-genre labeling, which I find boring and limiting, useful for little more than marketing tagging, at least to me.

But the fascinating point here is, you've give me some additional food for blithely enthusiastic thought, on this serendipitous morning. I have no doubt that when I finish that Gonji book (which would be...the NINTH, in my present course), I'll be forced to consider how Steampunk-y I want to lean with those aspects of the book, now that such a then-unknown sub-genre is firmly entrenched and I'll be called on the carpet for violating whatever its "limitations" are.

Thanks, Seth...I think...

message 4: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 702 comments Much depends on how it is used. Isolated steampunk (or clockpunk) wonders would not fundamentally change it, but what other 19th century elements would it drag in? For instance, sword and sorcery often turns on the empty spaces where monsters and ruins and magic can dwell. The 19th century did a lot to trim the possibilities: China became a place where you had regular trade, the Nile was traced to its source, etc. Not to mention that it's hard to maintain an industrial civilization if there's always a danger of dragons swooping in! (Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip struck me as weak precisely because the medieval-ish magic would have made keeping factories producing steady difficult.)

Steam had a lot of effect on travel. Not just speeding it up, making it regular. And piracy, to cite another S&S trope, got powerfully diminished.

message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter (jimmyshelter) | 82 comments There's quite some Weird West stories that have both elements from steampunk and Sword & Sorcery: clockwork & steam contraptions on the one hand, and a loner antagonist fighting against the powers of evil on the other hand.

message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 702 comments The frontier helps. Yes, the exploration was what was cutting down on the empty spaces, but it was occurring in them.

message 7: by Periklis, Fafhrd (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
I can only think of China Mieville's "Bas Lag" series, perhaps Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates and the D&D role playing game setting Eberron. Any more S&S - steampunk crossovers?

message 8: by Scott (new)

Scott  Hitchcock (lostinthewarrenofchaos) | 8 comments The Empire of Storms series which I've read the first two books, the third comes out in November I would consider a cross over and I love it. The series has a very gritty feel to it on the edge of grimdark taking place especially in book one in the slums of a city. There's also elements of pirates, artists, high society, the evil biomancers who combined biology and alchemy along with guns, gangs, swords, a ninja like society, an emperor and empress, another more industrially developed society to the north.....

The OP described Steampunk as flashy and optimistic. As I said above I'd place this firmly in gritty and on the edge of grimdark.

Hope and Red
Bane and Shadow
Blood and Tempest

Personally I love this series and if the author finishes off book three in style it will crack my top ten all time. As a disclaimer since I don't post in this forum a lot I have no affiliation to the author whatsoever. Just a fan of the series to this point.

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