The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Three Shorts is now formatted and almost ready to publish. I am now in the middle of final rewrites (hopefully) of Doctor Jack, the next instalment of The Adventures of Viola Stewart. Doctor Jack is a novella length tale – an alternative historical retelling of a more malevolent subject.
When I am dealing with personal issues, my writing often leans toward darker themes. Doctor Jack was written at such a time and the result is a much darker adventure than Viola’s previous exploits. It is a story with hints of steampunk and gaslamp.
What is gaslamp?
Gaslamp, or gaslight fantasy, is a subgenre of science fiction/fantasy and historical fantasy. The term was first coined by Kaja Foglio (wife of Phil Foglio) to describe Phil Foglio’s creation, Girl Genius, and to define it separately from steampunk.
“We have no ‘punk’ of steampunk and more than just steam.” – Kaja Foglio
Whereas steampunk often has elements of science, technology and the Industrial Revolution, gaslamp has more supernatural elements and gothic themes. It often contains magical or mythical creatures and is a spin off from the traditional Gothic story.
It borrows many tropes from superstition, spiritualism, psychics and mediums – all of which were popular in the 19th century, providing an escape from the Industrial Revolution. It embraces the Victorianesque-mad-scientist-Frankenstein’s monster story, Holmesian fantasies and gothic-style tales as opposed to the clockwork and automatons of steampunk (though these can still be incorporated). Think biology versus mechanics.
Gaslamp stories are often set in Victorian or Edwardian (even Regency) settings but, as with steampunk, can be an alternate history of either the past or the future. It can blend with historical fantasy, dark fantasy, romance, horror and detective stories.
How would I describe Doctor Jack? It is steamunk(ish), with a gaslamp flavour.
It is 1888. Viola Stewart returns for a new adventure. Someone is stalking the women of London… Again.