Hailing from all over England; north, south, and everything in between, Rob J. Hayes is the author of the dark fantasy series The Ties that Bind and also the steampunk caper series It Takes a Thief… He’s also an avid card gamer, reader of books, watcher of things, and player of video games.
It’s Not Steampunk. It’s Alchemypunk
I’ve now written 2 books in my It Takes a Thief… series and I’ve noticed something. They invariably get lumped into the Steampunk genre. Why? Because they have airships and folk who talk fancy and wear nice clothes. That’s actually about where the similarities end.
A brief search for the definition of Steampunk comes up with this:
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.
There is no steam-powered machinery in It Takes a Thief… There is electricity and there is alchemy and there is magic. It is set in an original world that draws heavily on European countries from the 17-18th century. OK, that sounds a bit like Steampunk except that it draws from French and German cultures instead of English.
There are 3 major powers in this little world I’ve created. First is Sassaille, inspired heavily by French culture and existing at the very pinnacle of science in the world. The Sailles covet alchemy and airships over anything else.
Then we have Great Turlain, inspired by German culture. The Turlains have exclusive access to the elemental magics and much of their culture and their lives revolve around the elements. This makes them the dominant military force.
Lastly there is Arkland, inspired by a 12th century Britain. The Arklanders are zealots who believe only in their God and would happily force everyone else to by way of military force only they can’t really compete with airships and elemental magic.
The books follow a couple of charlatans who blend into high society and perform complex heists to steal from those with enough to spare. They all too often seem to find themselves caught up in the machinations of those in real power. There is action, romance, humour, devious plots, and daring twists.
The reality is the books don’t fit into the Steampunk genre at all and apparently I can’t create an entire new genre just for myself so I guess Alchemypunk is off the cards. I would say It Takes a Thief… fits rather haphazardly into the general fantasy genre, though maybe also into the humour side of fantasy.
Whichever genre my series does or does not fit into– It’s fun. It’s fantastical. It’s thrilling. And it’s a little bit romantic.