Stefan Prohaczka artwork

The History of Dieselpunk III: Diesel’s Punk

Punk is not a synonym for era. Rather the era is defined by the prevalent technology ever present in the context of a science-fiction world.

In actuality, there is confusion in regards to the differentiation largely of a literary (prevalent in cinema, games and literature) understanding of pulp fiction, alternative history as well as modern steampunk with the genre of dieselpunk. It must be understood that dieselpunk has borrowed and is influenced by elements from all three — which creates the entity that is dieselpunk as understood today. Continue reading “The History of Dieselpunk III: Diesel’s Punk”

British soldiers in World War I

A War Without Alternative: The First World War in Alternate History

The First World War was one of the great catastrophes of human history. In four years of fighting, almost ten million soldiers were killed and wounded, with great swathes of the European continent laid to waste.

By the end of the war, the political landscape of Europe had changed irrevocably, with the German, Austrian, Russian and Ottoman Empires crumbling into a rabble of new nation-states straddling Central Europe and the Middle East. Continue reading “A War Without Alternative: The First World War in Alternate History”

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”

BioShock concept art

What Is Biopunk?

It’s unclear who coined the phrase “biopunk,” but presumably the term was invented after steampunk had been established as a genre. At least, it was not until steampunk had entered the mainstream that biopunk emerged.

Like steampunk, this proposed literary genre finds its origins in cyberpunk. It replaces the information technology of cybernetics with the synthetic biology of genetic engineering, but maintains most of the other elements of the genre.

Which begs the question: Should biopunk be considered a genre of its own? And if not, are steam- and dieselpunk really genres in their own right? Continue reading “What Is Biopunk?”

Stefan Prohaczka artwork

The Two Flavors of Dieselpunk

While discussing the “dark side of dieselpunk,” the author of the dieselpunk blog, The Flying Fortress, coined the phrases “Ottensian” and “Piecraftian” dieselpunk to refer to fiction set, respectively, in a pre- or post-nuclear environment.

Where The Flying Fortress starts the “Piecraftian” with the Atomic Age, Piecraft and myself argue World War II is the better dividing line between the two flavors of dieselpunk. Continue reading “The Two Flavors of Dieselpunk”