Introduction to Mythpunk

What is Mythpunk?


Mythpunk is a subgenre of literature coined by author Catherynne M. Valente in 2006 who described it as "a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy."

Basically, it's a genre that takes common fairytales, or elements thereof, and spins them in unique ways. In keeping with the ideals set forth by the Dieselpunk genre, my caveat to place something in this category would be a foundation in reality or a quality unique in its subversive nature — some part of the story must either connect to the realities of this world to be a true derivative of Dieselpunk or it must be subversive to be considered "punk".

So give me urban magic meets science and Cinderella in space.


Origins

The term Mythpunk is fairly obscure and largely unheard of outside of speculative fiction circles, but I do believe you can find many examples of unconventional uses of fairytale elements in literature and movies.

What first turned me on to Mythpunk was a wonderful novel and movie, called Stardust, both penned by Neil Gaiman. Much of Gaiman's works such as his novels American Gods, and Anansi Boys, and graphic novel The Sleeper and The Spindle could easily be categorized as mythpunk.

Examples


Mythpunk in Literature

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
The Thorn and The Blossom by Theodora Goss
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Darkest Part of the Forrest by Holly Black
Six Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley


Mythpunk in Visual Media

Stardust (2007)
Labyrinth (1986)
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
The works of Guillermo Del Toro
Wicked: the musical (2003)
Certain episodes of Doctor Who including The Fires of Pompeii, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang.
The Mighty Thor comics, in their way, build off of Norse (and Greek) Mythology.


As you can see, Mythpunk can cover a wide range of myth, fairy-lore, and era. There really is no way to go wrong in mythpunk if you buck tradition and let your imagination run wild.

Seriously.
Adelyn Sterling, The Myth Punkette

2 comments:

  1. is the percy jackson series by rick riordon considered mythpunk

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    1. You know, I'm not sure. I read half of the first book and didn't read any of the rest of the series. I'd probably consider it a retelling of Mythology, but from what I've gathered, it doesn't seem to be subversive enough to be really called "Punk"

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