Nickelodeon | Netflix | Paramount | Amazon | Riot Games | FromSoftware Inc. | Sony Interactive Entertainment

Why Don’t We Talk About Gaslamp Fantasy?

We always talk about fantasy and some of the more popular subgenres, but we keep leaving out gaslamp fantasy. It's time that changes.
Author
Article Tags
Share
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
The Latest
Tonic Topics
Join the Convo on Facebook!

I’ve always been a huge fantasy fan ever since I discovered The Magic Treehouse series as a kid. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through nearly all of the subgenres, from high fantasy to urban fantasy. But one that had escaped me until recently was gaslamp fantasy, which merges fantasy elements with steampunk. When I started following the upcoming game Nightingale, I was immediately hooked on the genre and went looking for more like it. Gaslamp fantasy is beautiful to see in shows, movies, and games, and it’s just as exciting to read about in books. Here’s where can you find this genre in your favorite media.

‘Final Fantasy VI’ and ‘Final Fantasy IX’

Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy IV Playstation games
PlayStation | Square | Electronic Arts | Sony | Nintendo

Though most Final Fantasy games aren’t classified as gaslamp fantasy, there are two that fit into the genre well. Final Fantasy VI‘s world was inspired by the Industrial Revolution that took place in the late 1800s. It perfectly merged the technological advancements of that time with the magic system we’ve come to know and love.

Final Fantasy IX was inspired by the world a few decades before the Industrial Revolution. Nevertheless, the graphics, setting, and magic system combine to make a unique gaslamp fantasy game.

‘Rippers Resurrected’

To be completely honest, I hadn’t heard of this until two years after it was funded on Kickstarter in 2017. It was quite literally advertised as a Victorian-era game where monster hunters become monsters to defeat other monsters.

While playing, you can choose to advance your technology, practice magic, or perform miracles. It’s a sequel to 2005’s Rippers, and this time, players will be hunting the Cabal and fighting new enemies.

‘Avatar: Legend of Korra’

Varrick and his inventions from Avatar Legend of Korra
Nickelodeon | ViacomCBS | Paramount

When it comes to the Avatar franchise, The Last Airbender is just too low-tech to be considered a gaslamp fantasy, but its sequel series is just right. The advancements in technology, from cars to electronics, perfectly fit the genre.

Most of the technology typically reflects our world’s Victorian era (the 1800s). So when Republic City has cars, technology, and clothing inspired by that time period, it’s obvious to me that Legend of Korra is a gaslamp fantasy. Now that we’ve gone through two fantasy genres with this franchise, can we get an urban fantasy with the next Avatar?

See related: Urban Fantasies That Are Better Than Your Favorite High Fantasies

‘The Infernal Devices’

The Infernal Devices covers
Margaret K. McElderry Books | Walker Books Ltd.

The Infernal Devices was my first introduction to the gaslamp fantasy genre, and it also happens to be my favorite Shadowhunters series that I’ve read so far. While the more modern stories from the universe fit into urban fantasy, this was the first time Cassandra Clare ventured into Victorian England.

The Infernal Devices put magic into the world we already know and gave us a heartbreaking love triangle. The series taking place directly after this one, The Last Hours, is yet another gaslamp fantasy we don’t talk about enough. Honestly, just read all of Cassandra Clare’s books. You won’t regret it!

‘The Irregulars’

The Irregulars on Netflix
Netflix | Drama Republic

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Sherlock Holmes encountered supernatural creatures? This short-lived Netflix show is the next best thing. Tragically, Netflix canceled The Irregulars after one eight-episode season (and yes, I’m bitter about it).

Sherlock Holmes’ partner Dr. Watson enlists the help of the Baker Street Irregulars to fight supernatural forces around London. While the show takes plenty of liberties with the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes fans will still enjoy it!

‘Thief’ Video Game Series

The Thief video game
Looking Glass Studios | Ion Storm | Eidos | Square Enix | PlayStation

The Thief video game franchise is described as a fantasy steampunk, which to me means gaslamp fantasy. While not set in our world, the creators merged the Middle Ages, Victorian era, and modern technology to create compelling stories and settings.

My favorite was the most recent from 2014, simply titled Thief. It was a revival that modernized the graphics and created new stories that had me hooked for hours at a time. Since the release had mixed reviews, I’m hoping the creators take the comments to heart and release another installment soon.

‘Masque of the Red Death’

Masque of the Red Death tabletop game
William W. Connors | TSR | White Wolf Publishing

This Dungeons and Dragons expansion pack is the only one so far that could be classified as gaslamp fantasy. It was named after the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Masque of the Red Death is set on Earth during the 1890s and includes characters like Jack the Ripper and Dorian Gray.

While it’s classified as an urban fantasy in some places, it fits near perfectly into the gaslamp category as well. There are new classes, adventures, weapons, and so much more in this pack. Masque of the Red Death is probably how I’m going to get into the tabletop game.

Looking for more Dungeons and Dragons? Check out ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ Is Bringing D&D Mainstream.

‘Stardust’

Stardust movie
Paramount | Marv Films | Ingenious Film Partners

I don’t hear nearly enough about this movie. The cast was terrific, the story was good, and the magical special effects kept me in awe. The book was set in April 1839, and although the movie never states what year it is, we can guess from the costuming that we’re in a Victorian setting.

The book is honestly better (no, I’m not just saying that), but the movie is beautifully done. When I think of gaslamp fantasy movies, Stardust is at the top of the list. The story follows Tristan as he ventures into the magical world next to his home to get a fallen star so his beloved will marry him.

‘Fallen London,’ ‘Sunless Sea,’ and ‘Sunless Skies’

In Fallen London, we get to explore a Victorian-era London where vampires have taken over. It’s an open-world RPG game that you can play for free online. You get to choose what stories you play through, where to go, and what kind of character you become.

It’s also the start of a franchise that includes Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies. The spinoffs take place in the same universe but allow you to explore more of the world. In Sunless Sea, you play as several captains of a ship as generations come and go. Sunless Skies has you on a train and living through a horror story that you determine the outcome.

‘Carnival Row’

Rycroft and Vignette from Carnival Row
Amazon | Siesta Productions | Legendary Television

While Carnival Row is not the most popular or best-made show on Amazon Prime, I loved it. Starring Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom, it follows Inspector Rycroft as he hides his half-Fae heritage from the mortal world. Mythological and fantasy creatures are now living amongst humans after a war made them flee for safety, but that doesn’t mean they’re accepted.

The world might be set in the 1940s to 1960s, but it’s reminiscent of the Victorian era. I honestly hope season two keeps my attention as much as the first.

‘Bloodborne’

The creators of the Souls franchise were inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker to bring us Bloodborne. The award-winning game also has comics, card games, board games, and an additional content pack.

The world of Bloodborne was inspired by real-world places, has a unique magic system, and a Gothic setting. You play as a Hunter and battle enemies, uncover secrets and mysteries, and explore the world. Trust me, it’s just as good as Elden Ring.

Read More: Best Games to Play After You Finish ‘Elden Ring’

‘Howl’s Moving Castle’

Howl's castle from Howl's Moving Castle
Studio Ghibli | Toho

If you’ve seen this movie, you had to know it was going to be on this list. Just look at Howl’s castle and tell me it doesn’t fit the definition of this genre to a tee. Set in a completely different world, we see magic, Victorian-like technology and weapons, and vintage-inspired clothing.

Sophie is cursed by a witch to look 90 years old. While looking for a way to transform back into a young woman, she meets Howl, Markl, and Calcifer. The film follows the group as they deal with a war and break other curses and spells. It’s a breathtaking story that people will love for generations. The movie doesn’t have that much in common with the book by Diana Wynne Jones, but they’re both wonderful in their own ways.

See related: Nostalgic Animated Movies That Aren’t Disney

Grishaverse Books by Leigh Bardugo

Netflix | 21 Laps Entertainment | Chronology | Loom Studios | Henry Holt & Company

Whether you love the books in the Grishaverse or Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, you have found one of the best and most mainstream gaslamp fantasies. Both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows take inspiration from Russia and Victorian technology and merge it with fantasy.

In the Grishaverse, magic is classified as a type of science that only some can use and study. Shadow and Bone is a trilogy following Alina, who discovers she’s a Sun Summoner, while the sequel series, Six of Crows, follows a group on a heist. The Netflix show combines both stories, and season two is currently being made.

‘Arcane’

Arcane League of Legends Vi feat
Riot Games | Fortiche Productions | Netflix

While the game it’s based on (League of Legends) could also be considered gaslamp fantasy, the Netflix animated adaptation Arcane is a better example of this genre. Between the magic and inventions, this show perfectly melds fantasy and steampunk.

The weapons and gadgets used by Vi and Jinx in Arcane and League of Legends combine science with magic, separating it from other media in similar genres. I can’t wait for season two to finally arrive so we can see more of this unique gaslamp world!