Gaslamp Fantasy

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Gaslamp fantasy, also called gaslight fantasy, is Steampunk's magical cousin. It's a subgenre of fantasy (and more specifically of Historical Fantasy) with a setting that is clearly recognizable as the real-world 19th or very early 20th century (or a reasonable analogue thereof). That's the Regency period and the Victorian and Edwardian eras, if the work's set in England, which it usually, though not necessarily, is. Victorian London is especially popular. It may be identical to the real world with a Masquerade, or it may be a full-on Alternate History where magic exists openly and has affected the course of events. Gaslamp fantasy often draws on Gothic Horror Tropes, and is sometimes seen as a sort of Reconstruction or revival of the genre.

The key difference between gaslamp fantasy and Steampunk is that Steampunk focuses on alternate developments in technology (and need not have any magic at all), while gaslamp fantasy focuses on supernatural elements (and need not have any technology that didn't actually exist). Yet, the two can overlap, especially with Magitek.

The term was coined to describe the comic Girl Genius, but has since come into wider use, and is sometimes retroactively applied to the more fantastical works of Gothic Horror. Girl Genius was called that because it was focused on more than just advanced steam power, and was not a dystopian-type "Punk" work, despite having similar aesthetics, and is heavy on mad science.

For similar genres with more modern settings, see Urban Fantasy and Gothic Punk. Not to be confused with Gaslighting.

For tropes common to these works, check out Gaslamp Fantasy Tropes, which it shares with its cousin Steampunk.

Examples of Gaslamp Fantasy include:


Literature[edit | hide]

  • His Dark Materials By Phillip Pullman. A multi-universe spanning triogy. The first book "Northern Lights" is set in a alternate victorian northen europe and contains many elemants. Most prominatly the Gothic undertones (innocence lost, evil churches) and the daemons that every human has which are an expression of their personallity.
  • The Parasol Protectorate
  • Sorcery and Cecelia and its sequels, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, are epistolary novels set in a Regency England where magic is part of everyday life.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is about the last two practicing magicians in Georgian England (also, fairies).
  • The Native Star is fantasy set in America in the 1800s.
  • The Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card is America-based 1800s fantasy as well.
  • Shades of Milk and Honey
  • The Gemma Doyle trilogy centers around a group of young Victorian ladies who get caught up in a secret magical conspiracy.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series is about mages in Post-Victorian England. The stories are loosely based on Fairy Tales.
  • The Lord Darcy stories are technically set in the 1960s, but due to magic, society and technology seem to be closer to the Edwardian era.
  • Infernal Devices is set an alternate Victorian London that contains elements of a Masquerade: things such as magic, demons, werewolves, vampires, etc. wander around in the open - but only people with The Sight can see them.
  • Naomi Novik's Temeraire series follows the adventures of a British captain in His Majesty's Dragon Corps during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Strangely Beautiful Series is set in Victorian Britain and involves a magical backstory where Hades murders Peresephone's lover, a phoenix.
  • The Old Kingdom series. The eponymous kingdom is more of a medieval fantasy culture, but their southern neighbor Ancelstierre is a Gaslamp Fantasy because of the magic leaking in from the Old Kingdom.

Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • Castle Falkenstein. Set during the Victorian era. Has magicians, the Faerie, dwarves, dragons etc.
  • Victoriana RPG
  • Unhallowed Metropolis, set in a future dystopian version of Victorian London.
  • Broken Gears (CURS Publishing) is Post Apocalyptic Gaslamp Fantasy -- "a game of animistic steampunk". It's about a Magitek Alternate Universe where Devil-possessed Difference Engine rebelled after WWII, was nuked, and all electrical appliances got bedeviled. Which makes mass production harder, so most folk fall back to zeppelins, salamander-powered muskets, crossbows and rapiers.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Girl Genius is steampunk combined with fantasy. Most of the weird stuff can be explained by weird technology, but magic-like elements remain. The river Dyne (an apparently natural spring the waters of which make the drinker a mad genius, though in most cases it's instantly lethal), "Constructs" made from corpses ala-Frankenstein, Jägermonsters (human volunteers converted into colorful and near-immortal Super Soldier humanoids), multiple cases of Brain Uploading, and the castle Heterodyne's seemingly telekinetic ability to move chunks of itself. To say nothing of the Spark itself.
  • The Phoenix Requiem is set in a fantastical analogue to Victorian England—one that worships spirits and is beset by omnicidal shades made of cremated ashes.
  • Next Town Over is a mix between this, Weird West, and Cattle Punk. The two main characters are a Bounty Hunter who is skilled in a type of cybernetics and the pyropathic outlaw she is hunting down.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Echo Bazaar is set in a Victorian London ruled by a shadowy cabal of nonhuman entities and full of things like devils, golems, and talking rats.