Did you guys know that elfpunk is a “thing?” Because I didn’t. Nope, no idea, no clue. Just going on about my daily life without the knowledge that this awesome subgenre of a subgenre even existed.
So, what is elfpunk? Admittedly, the first image that comes to my mind is an elf in a ripped leather jacket and Mohawk a la Mad Max. Really, that’s not too far from the truth. It’s not the dystopia of cyberpunk, and it’s not a steam-powered Victorian setting. Elfpunk takes creatures like elves and faeries, and transplants them to a more modern setting. So yes, we can have the previously-mentioned elf in a ripped leather jacket and Mohawk. Sweet!
Now, you may be thinking, “But Cate, this doesn’t sound much different from urban fantasy.”
On the surface, it doesn’t. However, there are two major differences that distinguish elfpunk from ye olde urban fantasy.
Major difference between the two is that elfpunk doesn’t use werewolves or vampires, which are major tenants of the urban fantasy world, and it doesn’t use other made-up characters, which are prevalent in the genre. Elfpunk sticks with elves and fae of any background, though it does keep the fae as close to their mythos as possible, and it does use the occasional dragon. This means that research is highly important (it is, anyway). Plus, it gives you a fantastic reason to read mythology and use it to inform your work.
A second difference is that the stories focus heavily on “punk” themes—rebellion, challenging the status quo, trying to change societal rules. In case you haven't noticed, elves get repressed A LOT. Forced to live separately from other species, killed on sight... Tragic, really. Not everybody gets to frolic around Isengard like Legolas. With such subject matter, you can expect elfpunk stories to be dark and gritty. And probably bad ass, though their accuracy with a bow still remains to be seen (I'm done with Legolas jokes, I swear).
Curious now? Check out Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales series for a great example of modern elfpunk.
Also, there's a great Tumblr of elfpunk fashion.