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?
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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”
One of the risks that any genre faces is that by defining its boundaries too rigidly, it ends up telling the same story over and over again.
2K Games’ BioShock, while firmly dieselpunk, manages to avoid the obvious settings of the 1930s metropolis or World War II and stays original and unusual while making elements of both backgrounds integral to its own bizarre, self-contained world.
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The Venetian Carnival evokes thoughts of a centuries-old tradition of lavish celebration. A seemingly timeless event, with it roots in the thirteenth century, the carnival is known the world over for its elaborate costumes; as a playground for the nobility, the wealthy and the common man alike; a time of celebration, dancing, gambling, intrigue and just plain old craziness of every kind imaginable.
A more perfect backdrop for a steampunk story seems hard to imagine.
Continue reading “The Carnival of Venice”
By the 1920s, the world was still a big place. While nearly every conceivable corner of the Earth had been explored and mapped by now, it was getting there in the fastest or most efficient way that was getting more attention.
Continue reading “The First Motorized Crossing of the Sahara”
The aristocratic aesthetic is quite probably one of the most representative of the fashion aspect of this movement.
Continue reading “The Aristocrat Style”
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.
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Though they were conceived and produced long before the term “dieselpunk” was coined, the Indiana Jones films remain some of the most seminal and enjoyable parts of the genre. They include many of the hallmarks of dieselpunk and pulp storytelling, including a protagonist who is at the top of his field but is not afraid to get his hands dirty, antagonists both political and mystical, and an atmosphere of adventure.
Continue reading “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
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?”
Discussing the “dark side of dieselpunk,” the author of the dieselpunk blog The Flying Fortress coins 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 I believe World War II is the better dividing line between the two flavors of dieselpunk.
Continue reading “The Two Flavors of Dieselpunk”