Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

So since I plan to run a Dieselpunk community I've been quite busy trying to get a handle on what it means exactly to be a Dieselpunk.  Now before you respond, keep reading.  Yes I saw the other two threads that discuss this, but I'm taking it a different direction.

What is Dieselpunk that Pulp Noir is not?

One can easily see that "Sin City" both the comic and the movie, is Pulp Noir.  But is it also Dieselpunk?  One of my friends said no it wasn't, I asked why.  He said it was lacking fantastical elements like sentient robots or mad scientists.  I countered with Dick Tracy, other than the two-way radio watch it's not much different than Sin City.  So is the two-way radio watch the only thing that would make Dick Tracy Dieselpunk?   What about before Dieselpunk was coined?  It was pulp, it was one of the influences for noir.  So it's probably Pulp Noir.


What about Sky Captain?  Beyond a doubt an icon of Dieselpunk.  And yet,  It's film noir.  It's a pulp style hero, it's Pulp Noir.  

SF Weekly journalist Matt Smith used the term Pulp Noir to describe the act of "Sprinting to the crime scene, skidding on your heels, and yelling at everyone and nobody in particular: 'Who's in charge here?'"  To me, that attitude is right at home in Dieselpunk.

Another Observation, most of my friends who identify as being dieselpunk dislike the term and feel it's forced, or gives too much credit to steampunk or cyberpunk.

Ever see Reign of Death?  (movie poster here: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2009/09/06/reign-of-death-the-noel-clar... )  Admittedly, I have not seen it, but see that robot back there?  This is being described as Pulp Noir.

So I present the question.  Aren't we really just fans of Pulp Noir?  How is it different than Dieselpunk?

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RE: Atteron's post:

|"Dieselpunk to me would be the same kind of retrofuturism as steampunk, but set in the 30´s instead of the |Victorian age. There´s plenty of pulp stories which have no elements of science or technology, such as many |crime stories. Noir is just crime fiction with a certain style"

Can you Define Retro-futurism?
Also regarding "Noir is just crime fiction with a certain style" That seems a little dismissive doesn't it? One could argue that Dieselpunk is just stories that fall under Noir and/or Pulp.
It's a little confusing to say, and I realize I'm paraphrasing here, but that Dieselpunk is basically like Steampunk. You've seen the miles of debate on Brass Goggles, just trying to decide on what Steampunk is. Using a contested subject to define another contested subject is a hard sell.

BTW Tome, thanks for a great debate, it's refreshing to be able to talk about things intelligently! I was going to write this sooner but I got tied up at work :)
Well I don´t know if retrofuturism is the right word, I just wanted something without the word punk in it. It´s about stories set in the past, which involves science and technology extrapolated from that era´s belief and developments. If the era is the age of steam you can call it steampunk. If it´s the age of diesel, well you can guess.
Glad to hear it. Welcome to the show.
Conan was totally a product of pulp. Thanks for pointing that out. There were also other types of stories such as romance, sci-fi (Captain Future) and stories set in the past (Kull of Atlantic, Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, etc.) published on pulp. That's why I think of it as a medium and not a genre.

Otherwise, what's to say I don't get ripped, throw on a loin cloth and hunt down James Earl Jones with a massive sword and call it pulp noir?
looks the same to me...
I think this is a good point. When I wrote about dieselpunk cinema I mentioned a component, that while not essential, was helpful was an element of irreverence. "Impudence and shock" as you wrote are good terms as well.
Ok so it sounds to me like there's two schools of thought:

1. Dieselpunk is about stories of the future from the past (in Dieselpunk's case 1920-1945). These stories don't have to necessarily need to have been written in that time period, which allows contemporary efforts. with special caveat that the "punk" refers to the rejection of the current timeline's events and returning to the original, possibly intended, timeline. (This would be Atterton and Piechur's theory for ease of reference.)

2. Dieselpunk is a genre and aesthetic that could possibly be a subset of Pulp Noir, but it may also be synonymous with it. (I'll call this Tome and Shaun's Theory)

Does this sound correct to everyone so far?
Actually Piechur, I'm not sure that's what Shaunathan was saying but I may be wrong. As usual I have to fight the tendency of mine to try to speak for others.

Imho, dieselpunk can best be understood by the statement found on the front page of this forum, "Dieselpunk is a subculture and a genre of art blending the aesthetics of the 1920s - 1950s with today." I think that's a perfect sound bite. If someone asks any of us what we mean when we say, "I'm into dieselpunk" I recommend that if we all just memorize that one sentence and most people will then understand what we mean.

I know I sound like a broken record sometimes (certainly a phrase that could be considered an anachronism today) but this one line quote from the front page of the forum, along with the discussions here and other sites, is where I get what I consider the two essential components defining anything, whether it's music, art, literature, movies, etc, as dieselpunk: 1) contemporary in that it was created after the 1920's - 1950's, and 2) has some form of decodence, which the web site The Gatehouse defined as “embraces the styles and technologies of the era; it rejoices in a prolonged Jazz Age ambiance.”

I think a word of caution is in order. Being that this is the early part of the Postmodern age we still suffer from Modernism's drive to want to define everything and to create metanarratives that can be applied universally. In this Postmodern age that effort, I believe, is doomed to failure. It's going to be many generations before this Modernistic tendency fades, I think.
Your reference and link to Loki's Wager was very interesting. This tells me that I need to clarify myself.

I don't mean to imply that it's impossible that, through discussion, the dieselpunk community isn't able to compile some commonly agreed upon elements that we, as a community, generally recognize as 'dieselpunk.' I just think we must always strive to avoid creating a metanarrative that would overly limit ourselves.

I'm glad you posted that reference to Loki's Wager. Postmodernism is in its infancy and is still developing. Your reference to Loki's Wager will help us strive for a balance and was very helpful.
Sure attributes change over time. That was one of the faults of modernism. It assumed failed to understand the limits of creating metanarratives.

But I think you and I and everyone here all largely on the same page. :)
Fascinating link. I'm gonna read that closer before I give a firm opinion.

Like you, I think descriptive might be best. I like the idea that it allows the locus of control to be the group because I think the dieselpunk community, through interaction like these, should be the focus on understanding what is meant by the term "dieselpunk." Another thing I've noticed is that when it comes to dieselpunk, as the American courts said about porn, generally we know it when we see it. Occasionally there will be some dispute (like is Mad Max dieselpunk?) but as a group overall we tend to agree more often than we disagree. Which tells me we know it but our challenge is to articulate it in a fashion that the community can generally accept.

That being said I have to admit stipulative was interesting.

That's a great link Piechur. I really appreciate you posting that.
Yeah I think My point is being misunderstood here.

Piechur stated: " Dieselpunk is NOT 1930s pulp"

I 100% agree with that statement.

What I was saying is that Dieselpunk takes Pulp, Noir, and Reality of the time, and takes these sensibilities and projects them into modern times and leaves them open to interpretation. (i.e. Star Wars set in the 1940's.)

Another point I feel I'm being misunderstood on here is that I'm against using the word Dieselpunk, That's not true, I'm just looking for a synonym that's acceptable. Pulp Noir is not pulp, and it is not Noir. It's a new animal. And yet, though my discussions on this thread, it could almost be an all-encompassing statement that can contain Pulp, Noir, and other aspects. Which is my arguement that Pulp Noir would be a synonym for Dieselpunk.

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