HBO’s Boardwalk Empire is the best thing that’s been on television since AMC launched Mad Men several years ago.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, imagine The Sopranos, set some ninety years in the past. It’s Atlantic City during Prohibition and Boardwalk Empire combines bootlegging and American upper-class bliss in a splendid mix. It is the Roaring Twenties and, although liquor is banned, The World’s Playground went through its golden age of gambling and entertainment.
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Often when one reads of the Jazz Age, the term is limited to the 1920s. But there’s a relatively young philosophy known as dieselpunk that is trying to keep the glory of the Jazz Age alive.
The term “dieselpunk” was first used by Lewis Pollak in 2001 to describe his role-playing game Children of the Sun. Dieselpunk has since grown far beyond his initial usage to describe a philosophy that forms the basis of a subculture and art movement with distinctive music, art, fiction and cinema.
Dieselpunk philosophy is a postmodern phenomenon that comprises three aspects: decodence, contemporary and punk. To understand this young philosophy one must understand each of these aspects.
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The Roaring Twenties, or Goldenen Zwanziger Jahre, as they were known in Germany, were very likely Germany’s happiest time in the first half of the twentieth century. They can also be considered Berlin’s Golden Age.
The time between the end of the hyperinflation and hardships of the post-Great War period and the stock market crash of 1929 were a comparatively stable period for the troubled Weimar Republic. The largely French-driven dictates of the Versailles Treaty were modified and relieved by the implementation of the Dawes Plan and later the Young Plan (although the latter would not come into effect until 1930). In 1926, the Weimar Republic joined the League of Nations, another sign of normalization.
Fueled by American dollars, the German economy stabilized and expanded, leading to increased wealth. This credit-financed economy would later prove highly vulnerable to the effects of the Great Recession of the early 1930s, but, for the moment, the Weimar Republic enjoyed prosperity, stability and good times.
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Let’s be honest: at the end of the day, Burlesque is just another feel-good movie with a rather cliché plot and happy ending.
There is quite a bit of singing at regular intervals; not enough to make it a full-on musical, but it’s getting quite close.
Starring both Cher and Christina Aguilera, everyone knew that this film was either going to be cheesy as hell commercial Hollywood crap or sheer brilliance. I’d say it’s floating somewhere in the middle.
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A fine example of a movie you either love or hate, Wild Wild West (based on the series from years previously, albeit in parody style) will strike your fancy or be written off as complete tripe.
The year is 1869 and the Civil War has just ended. That doesn’t mean that all of the Confederates have given up, though. Led by Dr Loveless, who is literally half the man he once was because of the war, and his futuristic steampunk technology, they plan to take out President Ulysses Grant and claim rulership over the reunited states of America.
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Half a decade before the first experiments of the Wright brothers, a wave of unlikely airship sightings spread across the American Midwest in an incident that has become known as the Great Airship Scare. It was America’s first big UFO craze.
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Tor.com‘s Steampunk Month is over. For the last four weeks, the website has published an impressive collection of artwork, essays and fiction that has kept us thoroughly entertained.
About midway through, one article appeared I would like to comment on.
In “There is Totally Punk in Steampunk,” Jaymee Goh writes about how the ‘punk suffix relates to the genre and the developing subculture that we understand today under the banner of “steampunk.”
Continue reading “Get Your Punk Out of My Steam”
During the reign of Victoria, the women’s suffrage movement began and, shortly after her death, culminated in women receiving the same legal right to vote as men. It was a landmark period in history for thinking about gender equity. Informed by such works as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, written by Mary Wollstonecraft almost a half century prior to the Victorian era, it spawned such well-known feminist thinkers as John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and Florence Fenwick Miller. In spite of the oppressive atmosphere created by a focus on eradicating “vice” via the Comstock Laws and other means, as well as the caricature of women as weak and feeble-minded by many scientists of the day, women were making strides toward being recognized as equal to men and having autonomy.
This is the historical background which inspires much of steampunk fiction and we should take its lessons to heart when building our steampunk community.
Continue reading “Battle of the Sexes: How Steampunk Should Be Informed by Feminism”
As dieselpunk is gaining popularity and recognition as a genre, dieselpunk enthusiasts are endeavoring beyond the restraints of fiction to frame a dieselpunk aesthetic, a dieselpunk culture and, ultimately, a dieselpunk philosophy.
Does dieselpunk lend itself to make a political statement?
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Several months after, after the eleventh issue of this magazine, dedicated to “Victorientalism”, sparked fierce debate in the steampunk community about the genre’s complicated relationship with colonialism and race, the owners and editors of some of the community’s most prominent blogs and publications gathered to explore the possibility of organizing a “Great Steampunk Debate”, where, for a limited time, steampunk enthusiasts could come together and discuss the political side of the movement.
The debate would entail the whole of the spectrum of steampunk and ideology, with discussions ranging from the roles of class and gender in the genre to topics about the influence of anarchism and the significance of steampunk’s maker culture.
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