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Countries having different genre settings but set in one world. Is that even possible


New Member
Hello. I’m new to worldbuilding and have started building my world last week. The world that I'm trying to make is a paranormal fantasy but as I was building the world I had an idea that I wanted to experiment but don't know how to approach this. The idea is each country in this world has a setting based on a sub-genre.

For example the types of countries I'm thinking to make are: One country that has a steampunk setting where the government is a absolute monarchy. Another one is a cyberpunk where a mega corporation runs the country.

Is an idea like this even possible? By “possible” I mean can it even make sense and fit in one world. And how can it? I'm having trouble trying to make sense of it. Are there even any stories that have a idea like this?


I think it's doable to a point. One nation that's a hive of scum and villainy, natural habitat for a crime drama. Another that is a wild land of warring kingdoms, good for heroic fantasy. Another that's a tense covenant of squabbling royal houses, political drama. That sort of thing.

On the other hand, a steampunk country located in the same world and time period as a cyberpunk country? I think that would raise too many obvious questions in terms of why the gulf in technology is so vast and, even if they're equal but distinct, why these nations haven't adopted enough of each other's tech to make it more of a schizo tech setting across the board. Or if the cyberpunk is as more advanced as it seems, why the megacorp (whose entire reason for being is profit and expansion) hasn't just taken over the steampunk kingdom yet.


I think the steampunk vs. cyberpunk could be easily explainable-- size difference, natural barriers, distance, internal politics, available resources, etc. etc. can all explain them both existing.

So yeah, I say sure. Just have at least some explanation as to the why of things, and don't give the reader genre whiplash.


toujours gai, archie
Since it's fantasy, you can make the differences sort of the point. I'm thinking of something like what Philip Jose Farmer did with Riverworld.

The tricky part will be crossing over. What happens when Conan goes to cyberpunk? Does a wizard keep her power when she goes to steampunk? Do the airships fly in ancient Greece?

I'll make one suggestion. Don't try to solve everything. Come up with a story and explain just enough for that story. The steampunk engineer travels to the land of Chinese mythology. How does he get along when much of his machinery no longer works? Or works but cannot be repaired when damaged? Or no one has ammo for his guns? Tell a good story and most readers won't give the larger world a second thought.


Felis amatus
I think it can work if executed properly (i.e. the saying you can do anything you like, so long as you can make the reader believe it). There could exist, for example, cultural reasons why the more advanced tech hasn't permeated the lower-tech society, or political or other reasons as to why the more advanced society has jealously guarded their tech to make sure it doesn't cross over (think The Engineer Trilogy by KJ Parker). There could be supernatural reasons why advanced tech is inoperable in certain areas. The boundaries are only what you can conceive of and then make work.


I actually did a story with steampunk, art deco/dieselpunk and raygun gothic all in one city. If you take a look around our world, even in a relatively small region, it's pretty amazing how anachronistic things can seem when it comes to architecture, attitudes or how institutions operate.

You could maybe mix the two: some regions of the country a newer, more technologically advance cyberpunk developments while other parts are more Victorian-looking. I mean, there are big, cosmopolitan European cities with whole neighborhoods that are several centuries old.
Then the government can be an absolute monarchy with some serious corporatism/corruption going on. Just think about the role of the church or guilds in feudalism and then switch them out for corporations.

The big inconsistency would be technology but it's reasonable to say that newer technology is just inaccessible to some people. I grew-up near Amish people and not too far from the Appalachia region so the idea of some communities being decades behind in technology isn't strange to me.


Article Team
I'm doing a vaguely similar thing in my setting.

Emma's Story is pretty much your average low-key fantasy setting. The people travel in horse drawn sleds and they pay their respects to their goddess and they have a village witch who helps plant magical carrots under the apple tree. The main character is a country side girl who has to travel to the next village to seek aid with a marauding bear.

My new project, Lost Dogs, takes place in the same world at about the same time, but the setting is very different. The main character is a famous wrestler and it all starts off with him receiving an unexpected message on his cell phone. He travels across the world by train and he sees news about himself on the TV.

The world is the same in both stories, but there's a lot separating them. The characters of the first story belong to the anfylk race. They live traditionally according to the way their goddess intended for them when she created them, and they don't have much contact with the outside world. They know it exists, but they stay away from it, and it leaves them alone.

In the second story, the characters live in the "default world" along with the majority of the rest of the world.

The explanation for the separation between the two different world-types is largely down to religious reasons. The anfylk in the first story stick to their goddess and her ways. The default world of the other story has to patch up relations between various different belief systems as well as various different cultures and political system.

I don't have genres as mixed as steampunk and cyberpunk, but I can fit various kinds of fantasy within the framework. For epic fantasy I'd have to accommodate for the existence of the default world, but for shorter stories, or for stories with a smaller scope I could find ways of fitting in quite diverse genres.

The world is large, and transportation is an issue. There are places the default world hasn't reached yet, or doesn't want to go.
I'm thinking for sure it's possible. Maybe one part of the world is closed off against the rest of the world and thus isn't as technologically advanced. Maybe the cyberpunk technology belongs to the elite and the downtrodden lower class knows nothing of it.


I think you have an overarching genre in the paranormal aspect that you mentioned before. Taking into consideration what the others have said about making the differences between the cities work within the world's logic, what ties it all together is the paranormal entities and stories that you tell.

In that case, regardless of what city the story is taking place in, whatever your major themes are will keep the readers grounded in the story. Coupled with a good management of the different settings, I think your idea could work really well and be an awesome read.


Myth Weaver
Its been done multiple times. The example that sticks in mind with me is a novel (title escapes me at the moment) by Alyster Reynolds. In that, a long ago 'event' made a sort of 'target pattern' for the city and the world. In the 'bull's-eye' pretty much everything worked, right up to star trek level stuff. The ring around that, well, the tech roughly on a par with ours. The next ring was all steam - electricity didn't work right. Past that, simple hand tech.

In the real world, we have high tech countries like the US - and tribal societies where tech beyond the simplest is almost unknown.

I have a lesser division on my primary world. 'Equitant' is a major province of the Solarian Empire, noted for its clever artisans, who among other things, created the network of semaphore towers that binds the empire together, invented bicycles for military use (now spreading to civilians), the printing press (under draconian state/church control) and a whole host of things like telescopes, crude cameras, and complex clockwork mechanisms. Take away steam power, and it'd be roughly on a par with the mid 19th century. Other provinces, though, rely on 'manpower' (slaves) and have long seen Equitant's marvels as a threat to the traditional order. They impose severe controls on what Equitant can ship them, and keep trying to sabotage Equitant's economy. Outside the Empire, there is everything from isolated city-states mucking about with the remnants of alien technology to nomadic savages.

Or, put another way, high tech civilization need not be global.


New Member
I think it's very possible! I believe that the trick is deciding where your story is going.

Have a distinct understanding of how your plot/story will interact between all the nations.

For example,
If your story focuses on the Steampunk country, you should focus on the Steampunk country and what's around. Introduce the elements that are necessary to the plot, but don't tip your hand on the Cyberpunk elements. If you keep them close to the chest, explaining the need to know, your reader will accept that this is from another part of your world.

Another example,
If the story involves interactions between the countries, then explain why the countries went their separate ways. What aspects of their cultures and beliefs made them diverge so much.

How characters interact with the difference is also very important (i.e. the well-traveled character would react like Cyberpunk is totally normal. This is just a regular day for me. Whereas the bright-eyed youth who has never left the alleys of the city might say WOW! That's insane! This dude's eye is a FREAKING MACHINE!

I hope this helps!
The entire Oz series was written on more or less that principle. Not that it has steampunk and cyberpunk, but there are entire countries, and regions within countries, where things are one way, and as soon as you cross the border, they're another. The valley where everyone is invisible (forget which book that's in). The woodland where everyone has to walk backwards. No explanation is given for why that's so, it just is. That kind of setting--an obviously whimsical fantasy land--easily lends itself to a Land of Steampunk next door to the Land of Cyberpunk.