To the student of history, the premise of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle (2015-19, our review here), based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name, isn’t easy to accept. The United States, in the real world an industrial titan and the “Arsenal of Democracy”, is defeated in World War II and replaced by two Axis puppet states. The show justifies its alternate history with a favorite dieselpunk trope: Nazi superscience. Specifically, the “Heisenberg device” atomic bomb, which is used to decapitate the American leadership in Washington DC in December 1945.
The “history” of Nazi-ruled America is more credible. Institutions like the FBI neatly fold into the New Order. Former soldiers, like John Smith (Rufus Sewell), join the SS. Jews and other undesirables, including the mentally and physically disabled, are exterminated with little resistance.
One political aspect of the show which was very much on-point came late in Season 3, when (spoilers ahead!) the recently crowned Reichsführer, Heinrich Himmler, observes the celebrations of a Jahr Null, or Year Zero, in an alternate 1963.
Continue reading “Year Zero in The Man in the High Castle”
Usually, when people seek a look for steampunk, or a setting for a character or story, their minds take them to the grimy streets of London or a city somewhat based upon that hub of Victorian life. Such is all well and good, with plenty of opportunity for urban adventure and the fantastical, technological elements which lend steampunk its science-fiction heart.
Continue reading “African Adventures”
Much of the Howard Hughes legend was well dramatized in the hit Hollywood film The Aviator (review here), starring Leonardo DiCaprio. With some alterations for narrative, the film was a great success and provided the viewer with a good understanding of Hughes and his eccentricities.
However, the film ends well before Hughes himself passed away in 1976 and left many details of his life uncovered.
Continue reading “The Aviator: The Life and Legend of Howard Hughes”
The Wolfenstein series has been around since 1981 for the Apple II computer. Things have much changed since then, though, and the games have seen many incarnations across numerous platforms with ever different plots.
The latest is for the Playstation 3 and fits in with the more modern plotline of Wolfenstein’s canon (which builds on the 1990s game Wolfenstein 3D and the later sequel, Return to Castle Wolfenstein) and like them is a first-person shooter.
Continue reading “Wolfenstein”
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”
You sir, yes you. Take a look at your fine wardrobe and the styles you hold dear. Those of the elegant, refined, understated gentleman. A far cry from the powdered wigs and scented noblemen whose influence, without our Beau, would have dominated the fashions of Europe — and thus the world — for many years longer than they have done.
The 1700s were a time of wealth. On the continent and in Britain, the nobility showed its flare with ever greater demonstrations.
A prime example of this is the decadency of the French royalty in the guise of Louis XVI, who was advertised as such a tyrannical arch-degenerate that it cost him both his crown and his head to a revolutionary mob. (Despite his actual character as probably a fairly decent chap.)
From the gold-leaf extravagance of the Palace of Versailles to the towering powdered wigs of lords and ladies, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were times of showing off, but this had always been the case. Ancient kings and emperors had worn their riches in full display. But the increasing wealth of the eighteenth-century aristocracy was so much flaunted that it was driving an ever-firmer wedge between rulers and their people.
Let us take a closer look at these pre-Brummell styles, before we meet the man himself.
Continue reading “Beau Brummell: The Most Stylish History Maker”
Toby Frost’s début novel, Space Captain Smith, is a highly enjoyable read of daring-do and regular wit and humor.
The book takes steampunk into the far-flung future of the twenty-fifth-century British Space Empire, where our moustached, stiff-upper-lipped hero, Isambard Smith, battles a multitude of marvelous bad guys, such as the evil Empire of the Ghast and the religious fanatics of the Republic of New Eden.
Continue reading “Space Captain Smith”