George Griffith’s Astronef Series

A Honeymoon in Space
A Honeymoon in Space

George Chetwynd Griffith-Jones is one of the forgotten luminaries of the classic British Scientific Romance. A best-selling author and sometime rival of H.G. Wells’ at the beginning of the twentieth century, his work has been mostly forgotten by later generations. While much of them are steeped in the opinions and prejudices of his day, Griffith’s tales contain many elements that would lay the basis for the first great boom of science-fiction.

The Astronef series is a good case in point. Continue reading “George Griffith’s Astronef Series”

Iron Storm

Iron Storm
Iron Storm

With the gaming marketplace dominated by a glut of World War II-themed shooters, it is always refreshing to see titles experiment with depictions of obscure or allohistorical conflicts.

While Iron Storm, created by defunct French developer 4x Studio and released in 2002, takes the First World War as its starting point, it borrows and combines elements from the long history of twentieth-century warfare to create a darkly surreal experience that should surely appeal to particularly the dieselpunk enthusiast.

Rather appropriately, Iron Storm is set in an odd little history that would warm the heart of a 1920s pulp novelist. Continue reading “Iron Storm”

Steampunk adventurer fashion

The Adventurer Style

The adventurer is crucial to steampunk, for he explores the boundaries of empires and brings back new and exiting things from his journeys into the previously unknown. Adventurers are brave, daring and, most importantly, looking the part, no matter where they go — be they the brave explorers of lost civilizations in deep jungles or underneath the mighty oceans, the gallant aviators that soar the skies or anything in between. Continue reading “The Adventurer Style”

Stephen Hickman artwork

Introduction to Victorientalism

With the increasing contact with the East and its ensuing colonization, people in the West became fascinated by this strange new world. For centuries, adventurers, novelists and romantics had been interested in the lands beyond the horizon. Europe had all been explored and people became more and more familiar with the world they lived in. The Orient was still a realm of mystery, inhabited by alien people, exotic and sometimes cruel, with customs that Enlightened Europeans thought of as barbaric; a place where time had stood still.

An age-long Orientalist tradition of those who studied the East has in our times been criticized for its presumed bias and even racism. In the realm of steampunk, however, we can safely recreate the Orient as it was described and depicted by nineteenth-century authors and artists who might never have seen it. All the myths and miracles of the East that enchanted the Victorians can come true. Continue reading “Introduction to Victorientalism”

Chinatown

Chinatown
Chinatown

No film genre has been as beloved by dieselpunks as film noir and, for many, the first glimpse of this classic American genre was through the subsequent attempt to revive it.

This genre, generally referred to as neo-noir, is probably best known for its fusion with cyberpunk in Blade Runner (1982). However, one the oldest and purest examples of the neo-noir genre came in the form of the period film Chinatown (1974), directed by the infamous Roman Polanksi. Continue reading “Chinatown”

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The History of Dieselpunk II: Diesel Classics

With Hollywood reverting back into its archives for added inspiration for narrative ideas, we find a recent trend of nostalgic hindsight to the age of the Roaring Twenties and the 1930s. This seems to have infiltrated gradually the science-fiction genre that is emerging in contemporary cinema.

Films like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) and The Mutant Chronicles (2008) have perhaps inspired the intrigue in the early first half of the last century. Other recent films like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and The Spirit (2008) have sparked new interest in the previous century, overcast with economic turmoil, lawlessness on the streets and in politics and the ever-present dystopian sentiment toward a near-hopeful future with the potential of war hanging in the balance.

We must also not forget the alternative historical elements of the times, when people perceived a future that could at one time or another have been dominated by the totalitarian powers, specifically the Nazi regime — evoking concepts of the supernatural and Über-technology that was revolutionized by the whacky radicalism of engineers and scientists of the time. Such themes promoted in the independent feature Iron Sky — which alludes to what would have happened if the Nazis had escaped to the Moon — present the growing fascination with the emerging genre of dieselpunk. Continue reading “The History of Dieselpunk II: Diesel Classics”

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin

It must have been a nostalgic mood that gripped me when I decided to buy the boxset of The Adventures of Tintin. I was yearning back to rainy Saturday afternoons when the TV or a good book offered the only chance for some innocent high adventure. So I acted on this whim and made the purchase, remembering the brightly colored characters and escapist adventures of Tintin.

Although not strictly what we might call dieselpunk, being based quite directly on period comic strips, these Tintin films could still be considered as good examples of the pulp genre and so are worthy of our study. Continue reading “The Adventures of Tintin”

Scarlet Traces: The Great Game

Scarlet Traces: The Great Game
Scarlet Traces: The Great Game

The sequel to Scarlet Traces (our review here) takes place in the Britain of the 1930s, with the invasion of Mars by the British Empire going badly.

We follow the Lady Charlotte, a photographer and reporter for The Interceptor, the last remaining liberal newspaper. With an insurgency in Scotland getting worse and branching into suicide attacks, Oswald Mosely as home secretary and the Commonwealth trying to withdraw its troops from Mars, Lotte manages to sneak onto the frontlines only to discover that she is stuck with the rearguard — and there is no rescue coming for them. Continue reading “Scarlet Traces: The Great Game”