RMS Mauretania

RMS Mauretania

On July 28, 1938, at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England, the flagship of the new Cunard White Star Line was launched. In honor of the proud and record-breaking vessel that served Cunard between 1906 and 1934, this ship was christened Mauretania and — like her predecessor — destined to become a favorite among transatlantic travelers because of her speed and luxury. Continue reading “RMS Mauretania”

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”

Costurero-Real photo

The Sky Pirate Style

Are we all thinking of Abney Park? Good, that is one example of airship piracy. Now this band is, of course, not the definitive representation of the airship pirate. Pirates come, as they have always done throughout history, in all shapes and sizes.

Any type of pirate can be used as the base for your airship pirate persona. Whether you go back to historical pirates such as the infamous Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, take inspiration from Captain Jack Sparrow or simply start out with a base of good solid steampunk fashion, everything goes, and you can make it all work. Continue reading “The Sky Pirate Style”

Scarlet Traces

Scarlet Traces
Scarlet Traces

H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds never had a sequel. Thankfully Ian Edington and
the artist who calls himself D’Israeli have filled that gap in comic-book form with the formidable Scarlet Traces.

Their premise is simple: after the defeat of the Martians, Britain adapts their technologies to make themselves the world’s greatest superpower. The factories of the North are replaced with mechanical estates, the cavalry trade their horses for multi-limbed fighting machines, and homes are warmed by a spinoff of the Heat Ray. All is well in 1908 — or is it? Continue reading “Scarlet Traces”