Horten Ho IX German flying wing artwork

Strange Aircraft of the Third Reich: Real and Imagined

Did you know many of the strange German warplanes we see in dieselpunk are based on real designs?

As World War II drew to a close in Europe, Nazi Germany rushed the development of advanced bombers and fighter jets in a final effort to stop the Allies. From the world’s first operational turbojet fighter to a flying wing, some of these technologies were so far ahead of their time that Allied commanders speculated the Germans could have turned the tide of the war if only they had managed to prolong it by a few months. Continue reading “Strange Aircraft of the Third Reich: Real and Imagined”

Sam van Olffen artwork

The Art of Sam van Olffen

Sam van Olffen’s world is one where we have allowed technology to take over. His is a brutal vision of big machines, pollution and war, whether it is in the form of a steampunk’d version of Henri-Paul Motte’s portrait of Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle or a Nazi victory parade across the Thames.

If any artist can show you the “darker, grittier side of steampunk,” it’s Sam. Continue reading “The Art of Sam van Olffen”

Skies of Fire, Volumes 1-4

Skies of Fire, Volume 1
Skies of Fire, Volume 1

Massive diesel-powered airships dueling in the sky. It sounds like winning formula and there is a lot to like about Skies of Fire, the four-part (so far) comic series created by Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou.

The art, by Pablo Peppino, is perfect for a dieselpunk story: crisp and elegant.

The setting — the fictional Aquilan Empire, inspired by early-twentieth-century Britain — is marvelous.

The mystery at the heart of the story — a never-ending storm called The Expanse, which sky pirates call their home — is an inspiration.

But the comic is light on plot. Continue reading “Skies of Fire, Volumes 1-4”

Transarctica artwork

Big Trains in the Snow: From Transarctica to Snowpiercer

The 1993 computer game Transarctica introduced us to a post-apocalyptic world in which huge armored trains were the only way to safely travel between remote human settlements.

The game wasn’t much of a success — one reviewer called it “intentionally annoying” — but the setting proved to be an inspiration. Continue reading “Big Trains in the Snow: From Transarctica to Snowpiercer”

Steampunk

Punk Is Dead. Long Live Steampunk!

I didn’t get into steampunk to be an activist.

What got me hooked was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003, then discovering it was based on a graphic novel (which was even better), and then discovering that there was an entire genre of this stuff.

I was already into nineteenth-century history and I was into science-fiction. Putting those two together was brilliant. Continue reading “Punk Is Dead. Long Live Steampunk!”

Washington DC nuclear attack illustration

Imagining World War III in 1945

As soon as the Second World War was over, military strategists started planning for the next one.

Life magazine reported in its November 19, 1945 edition that the head of the United States Air Force, General Henry H. Arnold, had warned that technologies developed during the last war — atomic bombs, ballistic missile, long-range bombers — could make possible “the ghastliest of all wars.”

The destruction caused by nuclear weapons would be so swift and terrible that a “war might well be decided in 36 hours.”

Life envisaged what such a war might look like. Continue reading “Imagining World War III in 1945”