Girl Genius
Girl Genius
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Limitations of canon[]


On the other hand, the authors have been known to make and correct mistakes. The most common case is that a page will be published with typos or apparent wording problems. When these are pointed out, if they are in fact deficiencies, the old page will be replaced with the corrected version. Some mistakes are harder to fix. It has been revealed that the Sun Daiyu who appeared in Volume VIII was supposed to be the same person as Sun Mingmei who appeared aboard Castle Wulfenbach. As of this writing[1] the problem has not been definitively resolved.

Cast List Evolution[]

The cast lists are listed above as canon, but this should probably be taken to mean the current cast list, and only previous lists to the extent the information in them is not superseded. Each cast list, as was case with the "Secret Blueprints" published before the first comic, are written in terms of what the reader is suppose to know for the Volume with which they are associated. Sometimes names are published in the cast list before they are mentioned in the comic. But sometimes the name in the cast list changes after a new volume is started. Most likely the forthcoming GURPS manual will also contain information of this sort: at first, there will be a number of items which will provide a source for various corrections, clarifications, and expansion (and speculation!), especially yet-to-be seen characters. However, again, it will be written mainly in terms of what is known at the end of Volume IX or X (wherever the "stopping point" is), and its purpose is not to advance the plot but to provide a description of the world for use by role playing games. There may be many items that have no apparent bearing on the plot, and thus little reason to note them here.

Epistemological Problems[]

In fact, so far there is no unambiguous canonical definition of what is canon with respect to this story, there are only various reasons (including canonical statements[2]) to consider something that is ostensibly Girl Genius as not canon. This is in contrast to some other (brands of, trademarked) serial fiction (such as Star Trek) where the term has been used by the creator (trademark holder?)[citation needed] to create a distinguished subset of approved works which are assured to be "correct" while allowing for the approval of other works which are consistent with the canon while not binding future works (canon or non-canon) to be consistent with them. (The idea of someone attempting to create an approved work which is inconsistent with the canon is inconceivable.) For an (even more) extended (and perhaps even more technical) discussion here about the limitations on what should be inferred from the use of the term and the canonical material itself, please see the article the "canon".

However, in any case, please consider that the story is actually portrayed as being told by their avatars in the story. Furthermore, having Phil the avatar speak to us on the first page is kind of a trick, because after that first impression, there's hardly any more narration! Just a few words to indicate time and location. The world has a few similarities to ours, like there being a city named Paris, but many inversions, like airships vs. airplanes. By the middle of Volume IV it's pretty clear that the authors or their avatars are evil and like to use sleight of hand and misdirection, not to mention leaving us with cliffhangers.

The similarities and inversions, like Paris and airships, also apply to the access we have to knowledge about the world. Our everyday experience with the real world, apart from reading books (and now the Internet), consists of what we see and hear, along with a sense of time and location. We don't have direct access to another person's thoughts, nor verbal explanation (even description) of what is happening. But we can ask people. We have years of experience which has developed our common sense. And we can try to go places, at least to 7-11 to buy a newspaper. In Girl Genius, we can't read minds[3] and we can't ask questions, and our common sense doesn't necessarily apply. All we get is conversations[4] and pictures. This may be Alice's dream,[5] but it could be a nightmare for us!

The lack of a "true" foundation for common sense makes it easy for the Foglios to surprise us with plot twists. By Volume VIII or IX it's clear that they would love nothing better than to a reveal something about a detail from several volumes prior that suddenly makes it clear that it foreshadowed a complete inversion in how the intervening events should be interpreted.[citation needed][6] The time portals that appear to Bang and Klaus' reaction foreshadow this. Accomplishing it more than once for the same set of events would be even better, and the ultimate foreshadowing is the Enigma that appears at the very beginning.

To readers of other web comics or serial fiction with a canon, it may seem a little farfetched. However, a major difference between Girl Genius and most serial fiction is that GG has, in fact, been plotted out well in advance.[7] According to one interview, Volume VIII (or maybe VII) is only about one-third of the way through the story. At the current rate of one volume per year, this seems to mean they have plotted the story ("the current arc") well into the 2020s.

So, the canon of Girl Genius suggests a more cheerfully relaxed approach to its significance than some other serial fiction allows.

People who support this theory: Zarchne


  1. 24 February 2009
  2. For instance, Kaja: "don't be looking for hints about the plot here."
  3. With very rare exceptions, where it might be possible anyway; an adverb added to Higgs' reaction to Zeetha: "Quickly! "
  4. Furthermore, with perhaps no more than one exception ("DuPREE"), all the text is monocase (usually ALL UPPER CASE, with the occasional all lower case subvocalization like "sigh") which means that, in particular, proper nouns are not distinguished from common nouns.
  5. Alice in Wonderland began with Alice complaining that her big sister's book had no conversations and no pictures.
  6. Tarvek Sturmvoraus/Mad probably doesn't count as a reference. I think I had something else in mind... Besides the real destroyer of CH...
  7. On the other hand, this plot is not complete in all details and not absolutely fixed. The fantastically popular Jägers were included in the plot at a fairly late date; apparently considerable replotting (and even reboarding?) was done in response to one cool drawing (for page three?). The gripping hand is, even with the plot known to them in advance, they may find ways to twist the story even further.