Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Is Sci-Fi and/or fantasy a requirement to call something Dieselpunk?

Hey there guys & gals!
We had a great discussion on the Diesel Powered Podcast about Sci-Fi and Fantasy in Dieselpunk. Boss Larry Amyett asked the question whether it is a required element of the genre?

We'd love to get your feedback! Take a listen to the episode and let us know what you think!


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One point I learned from this very inspiring discussion is that we should distinguish a little between dieselpunk in literature and film, and dieselpunk as a lifestyle. In books and movies, some degree of fantasy and/or sci-fi is obviously required to separate dieselpunk from historical fiction. As a lifestyle, dieselpunk means to integrate style elements from the Diesel era into your everyday life. This could be music, fashion, art-deco pieces, etc. Different from nostalgic people, dieselpunks do not dream of having lived in the past. Dieselpunks have also not the intention of being historically correct. While there is no official definion of what a 'punk' is, one common characteristic of punks might be some lack of respect. Dieselpunks show this lack of respect by the reckless mixing of style elements of different eras. Sometimes, there is even a lack of respect for political correctness, e.g., by wearing insignia or uniform parts of 'bad people'. In particular in Germany, this has already provoked some anti-dieselpunk arguments, since some outfits to be seen on WGT aroused suspicion that dieselpunks might be part of the extreme right movement.


Let me add my two cents on something. Decopunk, Dieselpulp, Dieselfunk, etc.... they're all Dieselpunk.

Joern, in my opinion, we don't need different definitions to differentiate between dieselpunk in cinema and lifestyle. Using enough sense to not wear clothing that makes you resemble a neo-Nazi is the solution. It's like having enough sense not to walk around dressed like a member of the KKK here in the States even if you thought that wearing a robe and dunce hat looked cool.

All we need is one good definition that covers both cinema and lifestyle, which we already have in the classic definition. Multiple definitions confuses the matter, which I believe the proposal that dieselpunk is nothing but science fiction does.

Joern, that was wonderfully put. The punk is all about not following rules, which I personally perfer compared to other genres and communities because it allows the freedom needed for creativity. But yes, there is a major difference between Dieselpunk as a genre and Dieselpunk as a lifestyle.
I personally don't wish to live in the past, but I do want more people to have the style of the Diesel Era and I do want more Noir movies and such. But as Dieselpunk is all about, I want a modern interpetation of the Diesel style.
Not to offend anyone, but more to point out, is that a lot of Dieselpunks are probably from the baby boomer generation and I think it IS about the nostalgia, about growing up as a kid with those Diesel works. And I, too, grew up loving the Diesel Era movies and stuff about WW2. BUT, continuing that style is what is important here, because that is where the Dieselpunk comes into play.
Yes, because of the Nazis playing a big role in WW2, and because of the modern day neo-nazis, a lot of bad apples try to spoil the diesel bunch. On both sides of the coin, mind you. But previously, I was talking to two AJs here on this site, and we all had the same idea that if someone wants to roleplay as or feature the nazis in their work, that it must not be about racism, but because as a millitant force, they were interesting as the villian(or even anti-hero) type.

I probably am going to get flak for defending nazis, but I'm defending their right to be featured as an anti-hero in a work of art, not for what they did. And to feature nazis in their works or in their cosplay IS the punk way of life, to not follow society's rules. But following them to be racist is just plain awful, and nobody should hate someone for being different. Only for being a jerk ;)
Larry, that was my exact standing about Dieselpunk being used as two different words. To use it in terms of the community, I think it's perfect. To use it to describe the Diesel Sci-Fi... that's what causes the confusion. So either we think of a different name for our Sci-fi genre in media, or we all have to know which is which when we mention it.
So, how I stand is that all Diselpunks don't have to be connected to science fiction in any way. Only how they perfer to depict the Diesel Era on how they see fit. But as a sci-fi genre, it does need sci-fi, and that's why our fantasy also could use IT'S own name. Since Steampunks have Gaslamp Fantasy, why don't we have GasTANK? or something like that.
And it's not confusing to add more names under the umbrella. They are all still Dieselpunk, all it says is what kind of diesel. The music industry has a bunch of subgenres that allows specification. Instead of just plain metal, we have death metal, black metal, progressive metal, speed metal, orchestra metal, ect. Instead of simple latin music, we have (I'm going to butcher the spelling here) Kombia, riggaton, meriachi, spanish guitar, ect.
It's like saying, "why not call electroswing just simply techno? Why not call dieselfunk just plain funk?"
It's all so there IS no confusion.

Alright folks, here's my blog post on the subject. "Your Dieselpunk is Too Small"

I made it easy on myself when I sorted the dvd-collection into categories a few years back. Anything that is dieselpunk, pulp, source material and the like, 'just' wound up in the Pulp category.

Star Wars is in the Science-Fiction section though. ;)

Atterton said:


After reading larry's blog, I believe we all need to answer(and hopefully agree) a few important questions.

"Should we have different names for dieselpunk(the lifestyle and culture) and dieselpunk(the sci-fi genre) OR all accept the difference between the two?"


"Should we allow things FROM the Diesel Era into our DieselPUNK world? (As in: things that were created from that time, and not just based on it)"

Answer to the 1st question: No

It's difficult enough to explain the idea behind dieselpunk to outsiders. More terms and definitons would just add confusion.

Answer to 2nd question: Yes

I'm quite sure there are dieselpunks collecting stuff made in the Diesel Era. A lot of photos published in this forum do also shows real things from that era.

I agree with both choices. Although I only think a seperation between fantasy and sci-fi would be good to have, but not entierly required to explain things to outsiders. Not to seperate genres, but to only express which is which.

Scientific and technological development can be quite rapid. Less so with the fantastical. Are 1930s vampires really so different from 1890s vampires?

As a creature: not much, unless their origion story differs from the classic dracula film.

Their fashion sense and motives: Increadibly different. Dieselpunk vampires are like in bloodrayne or Hellsing the anime, blood thirsty and bent on world domination. Steampunk vampires are more of the high class types, simply seeing humans as a lesser being and a source of food, as well as sticking in the shadows.

So it's not the difference on WHAT they are, it's HOW they do things. That's why Dieselpunk should be split from Steampunk, and that's why it is.

And fantasy between the two can also be different in a major way, much as to how a Tolken type of fantasy is different from something like A Series of Unfortunante Events or Merry Poppins. And they have different target audences, so that also comes to mind when describing the type of story.

So what characterizes diesel era fantasy?

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