Just a short question, but is there a term for eras or ages being mixed together in a story?

To be more specific, I'm writing a story which is primarily set during the Middle Age. However, some of their technology belongs to the 21st century. For example, some of the technologies involved mainly focus on converting thermal energy from the environment into an energy source. There is also some form of electricity involved.

So is there an actual term to describe this under, or is it really just labelled under "fantasy and sci-fi"? I am really sorry if this is a dumb question, but I'm stuck at what to call it.

  • 3
    I'm not entirely sure, cause that is not my main field of work (so not provided as answer) ... but wouldn't that be called "Steampunk" or something similar to that?
    – Pawana
    Feb 5, 2018 at 6:57

3 Answers 3



Most of the following comes from the article: Punkpunk: A Compendium of Literary Punk Genres

First of all, appending "punk" at the end is often used to show that the main character or characters belong to a certain niche group and are rebelling against the current society - the defining aspect of which is in these cases the technology. Anything that is categorized as "-punk" can therefore be said to focus on the technological aspects of a society and illustrate the problems that arise from excessive usage of such technology, whether from a personal or a societal standpoint.

There are lots of different genres that belong to this "-punk" group and you can categorize all of them under "retro-futurism" or "sci-fi-punk".

Here is a list of genres taken from the mentioned site and shortened:

  • cyberpunk: started the trend; future dystopia; humanity and technology become one
  • steampunk: past (victorian era) dystopia; technology is usually steam-powered
  • dieselpunk: World War I or World War II; big machines and black smoke
  • biopunk: cyberpunk, but with a focus on biology, such as implants and DNA hacking
  • bugpunk: biopunk, but only with bugs...
  • transistorpunk: Cold War
  • nanopunk: cyberpunk, but only with nanotechnology
  • decopunk: dieselpunk, but with Art Deco style...
  • atompunk: shortly after World War II

From then on it's getting pretty ridiculous (the author says this themselves), but:

  • clockpunk: Like steampunk, but in the time of Leonardo Da Vinci

According to Wikipedia Leonardo lived towards the end of the medieval age. At least close by. "Medieval" can mean anything from the 6th to the 15th century and Leonardo was born 1452, so it's not unreasonable to say that your genre is in fact clockpunk.



(as quoted from Dictionary.com)

  1. a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. "if you like steampunk, this is a great book for you"
  2. a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction. "the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist"

Do bear in mind that Steampunk is typified by its Victorian England setting, not Medieval. However, by the definition, it could work. I don't read the genre, because it's too anachronistic for me, but read some of the fiction, and see if your work matches it.

  • 1
    I just want to say that as a steampunk fan, I'd be disappointed by any book that would try and pass off contemporary technology in a medieval setting as steampunk.
    – user28887
    Feb 5, 2018 at 18:34
  • 1
    If we really want to assign this book into a genre, we can call it steampunk, yes, but just for marketing purposes I'd rather not be calling it steampunk.
    – Alexander
    Feb 5, 2018 at 18:47
  • Might I suggest "stonepunk"? Feb 5, 2018 at 19:27
  • Holy cow. I thought I was writing SciFi but am writing steampunk.
    – SFWriter
    Feb 5, 2018 at 22:57
  • @dknestaut I don't blame you. But I don't do Sci-Fi, so I'm not as well versed as Secespitus is with that far more nuanced answer. However, if working purely by definition, it fits.
    – Fayth85
    Feb 6, 2018 at 0:35

If the technology was transported from the future to the age in question, it might be considered time-travel sci-fi. If the technology was developed in the Medieval period independently of temporal interference (some mad genius just happened to invent this stuff half a millennia ahead of its time) then it might be labeled as alternate-history, though alternate-history usually deals with the ramifications of tweaks to history.

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