Jun 18, 2009

Sub-genre Declaration: Theopunk!

Over at Omnivoracious, China Mieville is guest-blogging about new literaty movements in the vein of Steampunk or the New Weird. My personal favorite is Noird, which could apply to Mieville's The City and The City which I reviewed earlier this week. Giving some serious thought to the discussion, I've noticed a sub-genre without a name for a while now.

I've realized that there seems to be a prevalence of theology related books that don't quite fit into the traditional Epic Fantasy/Fantasy genres/subgenres. They aren’t straightforward fantasy since they are often set in the real world and use real theologies. Most aren’t going to be unobjectionable enough to get shelved in the Religious Fiction section either. And they sure as hell (or heaven) aren’t regular fiction.

I’d classify these books as “Theopunk”

Theopunk: A subgenre of fantasy literature primarily dealing with existing theology or theological beings/elements typically in the context of struggle against oppression/authority.

Notable Works of Theopunk
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
Vellum/Ink by Hal Duncan
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
God's Demon by William Barlowe
Preacher (Graphic Novels) by Garth Ennis

Marginal Theopunk Works
Sandman (Graphic Novels) by Neil Gaiman
Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

Anyone else have examples of Theopunk that I might not have read or be aware of?

Or what's your new sub-genre?


  1. Very interesting... I've often thought that the "His Dark Materials" trilogy needed some sort of sub-classification... and it does have the Victorian feel about both its characters and technology.

    I bet if you put your mind to it, you could expand this list out pretty drastically. Let's see... what about the anime/manga series HellSing? And maybe a few of the Indiana Jone novelizations, maybe?

    ...will check back to see if this line of thought expands.

  2. I thought of a few just as I was navigating away...

    I just finished the "Mean Streets" anthology. Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Simon R. Green, and Thomas E. Sniegoski are all authors that would fall squarely into your proposed genre! Unless, of course, you also created a Theo-noir sub-genre, then, they'd belong there.

    You might also consider everything Mike Carey has ever written (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_carey), including Lucifer, the Felix Caster series, and Hellblazer.

  3. I think Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green are definitely Urban Fantasy authors although they do have elements that are clearly Theopunk. I would say the Felix Castor series is also Urban Fantasy as well.

    Mike Carey's Lucifer and Hellblazer series on the other hand might be (and probably are) Theopunk, I haven't read them so I don't want to just say they are.


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