This article is from 2009 and was written before debate about the “Victorientalism” sub-genre in steampunk. Please click here for a more recent take.
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
Now that the cold weather of the freezing season is upon us, steampunks and dieselpunks can rejoice, because now everyone is finally able to layer without overheating.
And, of course, also wear fabulous coats and winter accessories to top it all off. Continue reading “Winter Fashion”
In order to begin analyzing dieselpunk as a serious genre within the literary world of fiction, it is necessary to realize its development from steampunk as well as cyberpunk, both to which dieselpunk owes a lot, as well as from pulp comics and literature published throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Continue reading “The History of Dieselpunk I: Proto-Diesel”
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”
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”
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. Continue reading “Beau Brummell: The Most Stylish History Maker”