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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Agree, Johnny. Never have figured out the Gattaca-Diesel connection myself. To me, just actors wearing retro-cloths (in fashion - that which is old, is always 'new' again sooner or later. so not impressed.) Can't even say as I thought that it was even a good sci-fi flick. LOL

Johnny Dellarocca said:

maybe I'm missing something in Gattaca. I see it recommended and on lists all the time so I tried it. I didn't see it as dieselpunk at all.

I mentioned Gattaca because it's an example of something that has a 40s look to it, but isn't dieselpunk. The director does talk about why on the commentary, but that's not important here. Same with Equilibrium.

Johnny: Well I was looking into "How to write pulp fiction" so I can see what makes something "pulp" when I found the website newpulppress.com and it had a LOT of awesome stuff I've never heard of before, here on Dieselpunks or anywhere! We seriously need some Diesel commercials on a Diesel TV channel to tell us everything that we SHOULD know. lol If you want to introduce me to a good new title that you know of, feel free to send me a list :)

What it is, for Atterton, is that he is talking about Dieselpunk in the same sense as Cyberpunk- a genre specified around the 80s style of sci-fi. So because of that and because Dieselpunk as a Diesel-inspired culture, that's where the confusion comes in. I have no problem with Dieselpunk(genre) being limited to Sci-fi because that's what Cyberpunk is about: sci-fi. But, if someone says, "This is Dieselpunk because it is about the 1940s(and nothing more)" then that is fine to consider it into the Dieselpunk culture. In the end, the actual Diselpunk(genre) will be chiseled down to nothing but sci-fi titles, but the Dieselpunk(culture) will stay the same as it previously was: accepting everything of the good old days.

And I say, "What's the problem with that?" I love the old days FAR more than I could ever like the modern times. I like how technology is going up, making everything easier on all of us in everyday life, but at the same time the media is growing tired and stupid. Anything that is Mainstream now is hated for a reason; whether it be fashion, movies, tv, video games, ect. And it's all because there is no effort being applied anymore. CGI plagues the movies industry with a scapegoat for having a crappy movie so people can say, "It had a lame story, but at least the CGI was cool."

In the Diesl Era, there was no CGI. There was barely even an editing tool. People had to clip the film reels and practically glue them together to make a movie. The stories of the Diesel Era were full of detail and heart because there was no technology to make things interesting. I've always loved the "Conversation flick" where it's just two people in a room talking for the whole entire movie, because it was able to keep my attention with just an hour-and-a-half long journey with just two people. That's hard to do. That takes effort. 

Especially with music, I HATE the modern vision. Dubstep is lazy and is all done on a computer. Pop music has auto tuning so the singer doesn't even have to learn how to sing. In the Diesel Era, EVERYONE knew how to play an instrument and knew how to sing. That's why I love the big band swing music because it's a bunch of people putting in the time and effort to make a single group. And doo-wop has a group of people singing together IN TUNE. You'll never see those people in the top 20, but it doesn't matter because modern day Mainstream is meaningless.

I know I sound like a hipster(as do the rest of us Dieselpunks) but I'm just saying the truth and what I prefer. I'm not limited to the Diesel or Atomic Era. I still wear normal black jeans and black t-shirts, but when I dress formally I wear a Diesel styled suit and fedora. And I still like some modern music, but never something popular. Any of the metal music genres(death, black, progressive especially) and foreign bands(anything in an anime intro mostly) will always make me believe that modern day isn't worse, just the mainstream stuff everyone is forced to listen to/see is.

I think it's because I was a goth in high school, but whenever I think of it, Dieselpunk and goth are pretty close. Trench coats, black in color, leather, heavy makeup. Even melodrama(like Noir) are from the two sides. Maybe we should have more goth-diesel. haha

Sorry for the little rant haha I just wanted to let it be known where I'm coming from in terms of opinion and fact. And how we should have more goths ;)

Dan: Actually, yes, that was my idea of what Dieselpulp was. It just won't have stuff like "John Carter from Mars" or the westerns or the "Tarzan" stuff, because those are more Steampunk(or Steampennydreadful lol).

About Gattaca: I didn't actually see the movie(never even heard of it until Atterton mentioned it) but from the trailer, it seemed to have a very shallow Diesel feel to it. I guess I considered it Diesel because the benefit of the doubt, and because it is the closest thing it can be related to other than Biopunk.

So then I say Gattaca and Equilibrium simply has Dieselpunk(tropes) instead of actually being a Deiselpunk(genre) title.

"One of the criticisms of Dieselpunks has been that we accept everything under our umbrella."

Just for arguments sake: If we are 'Punks', why would we care at all what the critics have to say about what ~ We ~ decide is acceptable to qualify as 'Dieselpunk' and what is not??? . . . Most certainly the Steam'punk' and Cyber'punk' communities don't seem to be overly burdened with such restrictive codifications. (especially not Steam! LOL) 

"On the other side, Boss Larry likes to include source material and Diesel era inspired works."

I gotta agree with Boss Larry. I too include Diesel era sources and Diesel era inspired works in my own personal picks. Especially when it comes to books and movies. There just ain't all that many Dieselpunk(/pulp) works on the market. And even those simply 'inspired by' stories can be darn fun and interesting! And, of course, if we don't have an interest in the Diesel era sources (history, stories, fashion, music, etc.) how can we possibly apply the Diesel title to anything???

"ProSe Productions but it nicely when he said "the Punk is the fan" because one of the reasons we are drawn to the style is in and of itself a counter cultural expression - almost a rejection of modern culture in exchange for embracing the culture of a previous generation's culture."


I think that the thing that makes all of this Pigeon Holing is so tough (and IMO rather silly) is that unlike Trekkies etc. we are not limited to a single standardized 'universe'. Diesel draws on a vast number of interpretations from various people and sources only really limited by the clouds of diesel scented vapors that surround those interpretations.



Good stuff.
Oh, and make no mistake, I also include diesel era, or diesel inspired works in my personal picks too.

And sure it is silly, but what else are we going argue about when we should be getting work done? :)

Okay, I've been avoiding commenting here because this requires more than slinging opinions back and forth. However,  based on a few comments made I have to add a few points. 

Johnny wrote that I "include source material" as being dieselpunk. If he means that I consider productions made during the Diesel Era the he's wrong. I do not include the source material the source material (i.e. works created during the Diesel Era). The source material is NEVER dieselpunk. It's only source used to create dieselpunk. It's the clay for the potter. I can only assume that I misunderstood what he posted here.

This leads to another position of mine. I strongly disagree with the use of the word 'contemporary' to include work made during the 20s - 40s. Again, the work during the Diesel Era is the source by which dieselpunk is created. This is because, as Tome correctly points out in the universally accepted definition here on the site, it requires modern sensibilities. For example, a Diesel Era production such as the original King Kong does not reflect what we would recognize as 'modern sensibilities'.

I've never seen either Gattaca or Equilibrium so I have no opinion.

With slight differences, Erwin comes closest to expressing my position.

On the rest of my opinions, everyone will just have to wait for my upcoming post on my blog. It should be uploaded this weekend and I will link to it here.

Haha nobody likes or has seen gattaca.

Yay! The pope and the plato see it similar :)

About king kong: that's what we're converting to call "pulp" now, BECAUSE there is no sign of tech advancement. I rememeber watching a steampunk panel, and they said, "Steampunk is a 'what if' scenario where the victorian era(or whichever era it is) was kept in its initial style and as time goes on, the technology is upgraded from only that tech and style." So, it not exactly basing itself off the works of that time, it's basing itself off of the very TIME ERA.

So Dieselpunks are the same deal- basing their clothes and outfits on the clothes of that era. Not of the works and movies that were featured in that era. And for steampunks, they have the whole "goggles and gears" theme. Dieselpunks usually stick with the fedora and suit, but if they want to look sci-fi, then it ends up with a millitary motif with a gas mask. The only problem with that is that it isn't sci-fi when that was really the millitary style.

Maybe while they have "goggles and gears" we can have "fedoras and fuel tubes" or something like that. Have the robotic look that the steampunks have, but more fuel related.

Another thing that sort of irks me is that Dieselpunk is nearly impossible to attempt without knowing about it in the first place. Most of the ones we refer to as dieselpunk are instead dieselpulp, and whatever actually IS dieselpunk is made by someone in the community. So to make the "punk" stand out is to have that split between pulp&punk so that people OUTSIDE of the community can also know the difference.

You guys really overcomplicate things.

Erwin "Blacky" Blackthorn said:

"Haha nobody likes or has seen gattaca.   Yay! The pope and the plato see it similar :) "

LOL! Go Figure! LOL

Erwin "Blacky" Blackthorn said:

"Another thing that sort of irks me is that Dieselpunk is nearly impossible to attempt without knowing about it in the first place. Most of the ones we refer to as dieselpunk are instead dieselpulp, and whatever actually IS dieselpunk is made by someone in the community. So to make the "punk" stand out is to have that split between pulp&punk so that people OUTSIDE of the community can also know the difference."

Yeah, Blacky, I think ~ I ~ (I never speak for others) would have to go along with that assessment, but I personally would actually see it as more of a three way split. (if we are splitting diesel coated hairs) Diesel Era, Diesel Pulp, and Diesel Punk. All of which are still pretty much subject to personal interpretation, yet all of which proudly sail under the banner of Dieselpunk.

For ME, its ALL Darn GOOD! . . . but I AIN'T wearing no darn fedora with Fuel Lines sticking out of it! I'll leave THAT sort of silliness for the Cog-Boys! LOL 

Haha! I agree with Atterton. You are wayyyy overthinking this.

And King Kong is totally Dieselpunk because it DOES HAVE sci-fi/fantasy. At least the last time I looked, there are no Giant Gorillas or Dinosaurs roaming the Earth in this timeline. :)

Oh, and if Kong isn't the counter culture poster child I don't know who is!

Ha! I knew I could coax Larry into joining the conversation! :)

Thanks Larry! Love ya, brother!

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