What is Gunpowder Fantasy?
Several of the blog tour stops that I’ve been hosted at recently have asked “What is Gunpowder Fantasy?” It’s not an established sub-genre, so this question is definitely understandable. My short answer sums it up very well: Elements of epic fantasy (magic, mythical creatures, elves and vast scale) combined with rifles and railroads. But that only begins to scratch the surface of what Gunpowder Fantasy is, and what it’s capable of.
One of the things about Gunpowder Fantasy that can connect it to traditional Epic Fantasy is the setting that you build for your story. Traditional Epic Fantasy usually takes place in a medieval setting, with castles and kings and knights. In the Griffins and Gunpowder universe, the nation of Ansgar has been stagnated by a millenium of peace and prosperity. Castles dot the landscape, home to lesser lords and nobles. The King holds court over their people and pass decrees without consulting their advisors.
Other nations in my world have more 19th century cultures: open towns, railroads and industry. But the main part of the story remains true to settings typical of Epic Fantasy.
Setting will likely be one of the first things that you establish when you bring new readers into your world. I try to pepper aspects of Epic Fantasy with some of the more unique elements that Gunpowder Fantasy introduces to them.
You want to make sure that your setting will support the storyline that you’ve developed. For me, this meant changing the size of the world when I decided to go ahead and use steampower as a method of transportation. My original nation of Ansgar was barely a thousand miles long; with the addition of railroads to facilitate travel, my storyline would have been severely compressed. So, I stretched the nation out.
Another aspect of Epic Fantasy that you can carry over into Gunpowder Fantasy is scale. Epic Fantasy is known for telling stories of massive events that bring nations to their knees, of world-changing events that sweep up everything in their path. You can use the economy of scale in your favor, to give the readers something that they can equate to Epic Fantasies they may have read.
Scale can also help you set up a world that plays host to many different stories. If you design a world that is rich in history and populated by many nations, there’s no end to the number of series and stories that you can build on your world.
The world of Zaria is huge. Dozens of nations, both large and small, struggle against the elements, against each other and even against themselves across the face of the planet. The Ansgari Rebellion series will only touch on one part of this massive world; other series and stories will tell the tale of different nations, different characters.
Stay tuned for the next post on “What Is Gunpowder Fantasy?” in which I’ll discuss the use (or not) of Magic in Gunpowder Fantasy and introduce some of the concepts that become available when you write Gunpowder Fantasy…