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Author Topic: Aetherpunk as a Literary Genre  (Read 3174 times)
The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« on: February 26, 2015, 06:23:02 am »

So I recently happened upon something called Aetherpunk, mainly from here

From what I can tell, it's where Steampunk meets magic. Now yes, one can argue that further subsections of what is already (arguably) a sub-genre is stupid, but so far I'm finding the distinction is actually quite useful. Hell, right here on this forum over in Portrayal we've told stories that have magic and just as many that don't. Now I can't say I'm keen on calling this its own sub-genre, or even going so far as to say it's a subset of Steampunk, but at the very least it gives us an easier way to refer to things that have a combination of industrialism and magic.

The strongest example I could think of would be the Warcraft universe, which has both the mechanical and the magical in equal measures.

This area also allows for stories where the magical and the mechanical can be combined.

How many times have you written a story that uses 'aether' as a power source for fantastical devices? Is Aetherpunk really such a farfetched idea?
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I assure you, that incident in Singapore was all a misunderstanding.
Atterton
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2015, 02:15:30 pm »

Then at least use the word magic rather than aether. Aether was an actual scientific theory.
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Dr Fidelius
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2015, 02:32:51 pm »

Aether is not that which powers magic. Aether was the element that stars were made of (sort of like more refined fire that does not need fuel and never falls to Earth) and was later the material through which light waves propagate (in the way that sound waves propagate through air). Magic is powered by will and intention.

I do not see any need to designate a subgenre of Steampunk which includes magic use as magic has been a part of Steampunk since before it was Steampunk.

Jeter’s “Morlock Night” has Victorian London being under attack from the Future and the only hope is to recover Excalibur. Power’s “The Anubis Gates” has ancient Egyptian magic. Moorcock’s Steam precursors freely mixed superscience with wizardry. And I have said before that any setting where Professor Challenger would feel at home must have space for the Cottlingley Faeries.
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The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not represent any other persons, organizations, spirits, thinking machines, hive minds or other sentient beings on this world or any adjacent dimensions in the multiverse.
The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2015, 07:02:11 pm »

Well given that at this point we know what starts are really made of and what light really travels through, the word 'Aether' can mean a damn lot more than just those two things. I've read a dozen stories that have it meaning everything from 'old science we don't understand' to 'the stuff that makes lightning' to 'this magic thing I just shot out of my hand'

I have to say gents, these have been some of the most close-minded, anti-discussion responses I've seen here in a while.
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Atterton
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2015, 07:06:52 pm »

It could end up like the victorian version of quantum abuse.
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The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2015, 07:09:55 pm »

Ok, allow me to clear something up here.

This is a thing that already exists. I'm not here to debate whether or not it does, because it does. I'm here to discuss the relative merits of it, thoughts on where it might be headed in the future and current works that may fall more cleanly under this term.
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Atterton
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2015, 07:14:39 pm »

So does it only count if they use the word aether? For example the Mr Norell & Jonathan Strange is about magic in the victorian age, but I don't think aether is ever mentioned. The Teremaire series is similar. I just see it as Fantasy.
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The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2015, 07:26:07 pm »

It's more that the genre itself is referred to as 'Aetherpunk', the thing can be called 'magic' or anything you like (that means magic) in the book.

I used those examples in my last post to more or less break down Fidelius' distinctions of 'Aether can only refer to this one thing'
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Atterton
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2015, 07:28:13 pm »

I would call it a mix of Fantasy and Steampunk. Further subdivisions would be silly, as you say.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2015, 08:11:11 pm »

Aether/ ether is a mysterious and magical thing

 It always  brings to one's mind the absinthe faerie
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pakled
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2015, 05:02:07 am »

It doesn't have to be aether/or...Wink

There's always room for one more.
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The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2015, 06:26:23 am »

It doesn't have to be aether/or...Wink

There's always room for one more.

Aaaand end thread

Tongue
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Dr Fidelius
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2015, 01:29:49 pm »

My point, such as it was, is that Steampunk has included magic since before the recognition of it as a separate flavor of Alternate History stories.

Among other things, many prominent Victorians believed that the secrets of the Afterlife were about to be explained just as they had recently explained the secrets of Electricity, and that the lives of the Fae would be discovered to be no more exotic than the lives of Eskimos. Therefore I think that calling the more fantasy-oriented stories in our oeuvre “Aetherpunk” makes for a worthless distinction.

There are several orders of magnitude more persons who know the classical definition of aether / ether than are interested in magically-themed Steampunk stories, so the user of Aether as a description is misleading. Having this as a label on a shelf in the bookstore will not attract any new readers to the sub-genre.

Taxonomically I am a Lumper not a Splitter and have no patience for distinctions with no differences.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 02:35:30 pm by Dr Fidelius » Logged
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