Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Here's a blogpost by Philip Reeve that is not dedicated to Dieselpunk but worth reading and discussion: we're exactly filling the gap between Steampunk and Atompunk.

  • So why do we not keep hearing about people rebuilding computers and i-pads in sleek 'fifties housings? Why are there no no festivals or conventions where like minded 'Atompunks' (as I think they should be called) can dress up in one-piece nylon numbers and compare the size of their Art Deco disintegrators? Above all, why aren't there scores of books for older children and young adults?
  • As with Steampunk, 'Atompunk' offers us arty folk the opportunity to write science fiction without actually needing to know any science.
  • Strap on your jet-pack and rocket boots and set a course for the Lunar Academy: you could become the JK Rowling of the Jet Age!

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Via atompunk

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I really don't understand why people have to attack one - punk genre. He could have just as easily advocated for atomicpunk without making the stupid comments about steampunk.
Well, this text is far from perfect: not only the comments are stupid, the author literally re-invents the wheel thinking he's the first to coin the term and to define the genre.

Larry said:
I really don't understand why people have to attack one - punk genre. He could have just as easily advocated for atomicpunk without making the stupid comments about steampunk.
This is a lot like Complaining About Books I Don't Read. I also doubt he was advocating Atompunk; his tone seemed really snarky to me.

And am I the only one who finds it hilarious that an author of Fantasy is complaining about SciFi as a genre that "has basically been re-running the same plots and tropes since about 1930"? I sure hope he doesn't have a single Elfin Archer or Dwarf Axeman character or the hypocrisy might just implode into singularity.
I read Philip Reeve's blogpost mentioned above. In my opinion I think people gravitate more towards steampunk and dieselpunk, more so steam, because there is a greater technology gap. Taking modern technology computers, iPads, etc and wrapping it in Victorian era styling is something that Verne, and Wells couldn't have dreamed of because they would have had to envisioned the integrated circuit first.

To quote the author.

"So why do we not keep hearing about people rebuilding computers and i-pads in sleek 'fifties housings?"

The answer to that question to me seems pretty obvious. Those 50's housing probably already had video screen to begin with... that, and the Jetson's have already done most of the work for us.

I also think that Googie and populuxe design styles don't posses the same aesthetics. Atomic age design was a more "airy" style versus steam and diesel. There is a solidness to steam and diesel that withstands the test of time while atomic age design seems less utilitarian, more abstract, and thin and flimsy by comparison.

In conclusion I would like to add I enjoy all the "punk genres", Steam, Diesel, Atomic, Cyber etc. I just think it's a question of personal preference.

Atomic Age Design Reference Links:
American Look Chevrolet video on design - http://www.archive.org/details/american_look
Colonel Bleep 1950's Kids Cartoon - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iyb3qzx9Qk
Scott McCloud Space Angel - Kids Cartoon - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_Y6dGP2amM
Wikipedia Googie Populuxe entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googie_architecture
Here's a great post by my favorite steampunk blogger that rips Reeve's well.
http://trialbysteam.com/2010/08/13/atomicpunk-by-philip-reeve/
How precise! Exact hit in every passage. Really great.
If I were to become the J.K. Rowling of anything, I think I'd have to kill myself.

...Horribly and painfully. #isnotaharrypotterfan.

On a separate note, the whole "Steampunk" etc setup is a backlash to turn of the millennia Modernism and 50's Futurism. Give it a break and relax already. It's a great fictional genre, but if you take it much further than that (drawing metaphorical lines in the sand, for example) then you're getting your head lost up in your own asshole. Sit back, relax, and have some fun writing somethings and possibly making some drawings for them or something. None of it's going to be real. The march of time and technology has already seen to that. So quit sounding like a bunch of uptight primadonna's in the middle of a really bad period and just try to have some fun while helping other have some fun of their own already. Jeez...
Russel Shackleton said:
So quit sounding like a bunch of uptight primadonna's in the middle of a really bad period and just try to have some fun while helping other have some fun of their own already. Jeez...

No primadonna's here. Just a bunch of people who love to share the things they love. And it's fun, yeah.
Russell, I personally find your comments to be as narrow minded as Reeve's. If for you steampunk, dieselpunk or any other - punk genre is nothing more than playing dress up and reading pulp fiction that's fine. But there's no reason to insult those of us who find the various punk genres to be both fun and philosophically meaningful.

Oh, and it's prima donna and not primadonna.

Russel Shackleton said:
Give it a break and relax already. It's a great fictional genre, but if you take it much further than that (drawing metaphorical lines in the sand, for example) then you're getting your head lost up in your own asshole. Sit back, relax, and have some fun writing somethings and possibly making some drawings for them or something. None of it's going to be real. The march of time and technology has already seen to that. So quit sounding like a bunch of uptight primadonna's in the middle of a really bad period and just try to have some fun while helping other have some fun of their own already. Jeez...

I agree that Reeve was unnecessarily dismissive of steampunk, although he was actually quoting an article from The Guardian. He could have expressed his own problems with the genre in his own words, and made clear the extent to which he agreed with and diverged from Lyndon Gwynfryn's crude assessment. Not everyone has to be interested in everything, but there is plenty of creative inspiration to be found in any period of history. The comment by Gwynfryn misses the points of retrofuturist genres entirely. Steampunk Dieselpunk, and other retrofuturist milieus are exploring the futurist impulse as it has been expressed in different historical contexts. These are not nostalgic movements. No one is curating museums here.

On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to prefer the zeitgeist of one historical period over that of another as a framework or template for one's creative expression. Ultimately, Reeve was just trying to encourage people to explore a new path, and using someone else's critique to get them thinking. We don't have to be cultural or stylistic partisans just because someone prefers a different emphasis. What is being referred to as atompunk here has been undergoing a revival in a different context driven by music, design, and mixology for a quarter century now. It would be interesting to see how that would be expressed in retrofuturist science fiction.

The Magnificent Raiders of Dimension War 1  Atompunk? Retro-futurism? You're aircar is waiting...

Keep in mind that Philip Reeve isn't just some nobody, slagging off steampunk -- his Mortal Engines novels are practically touchstones of that subgenre. Granted, the blog post is dismissive, but I think, as it was intended for his readers, his dismissal is a continuation of the critique from the books themselves, which are pretty angry depictions of class warfare and authoritarianism. The books are about dystopian, mechanized city-states that literally eat each other -- the metaphors aren't subtle.

Reeve's critique is expressly about how steampunks don't respect the progressive legacy of Victorian writers. This is a broad brush to paint with, but I've seen it to be largely accurate portrait. Many steampunk works depictions display totally unironic, unaware romanticizing of the colonial era of the British Empire. This has been a problem in the genre for a long time, despite the presence of individual critics and creators like China Mieville, and despite the fact that the best-known steampunk movie stars Will Smith.

As for atompunk, the only atompunk work that ever drew me in was the Fallout series, and that's more due to its Mad Max flavour than the ironic use of atompunk trappings. I have no love for '50s American aesthetics or culture and that sort of pushes me away from the whole idea. Jazz and beatniks were the only cool things about the '50s, as far as I'm concerned.

Actually, there was one other good atompunk example that occurs to me now: the '80s Jetsons movie. Here's where they finally came down from their space-age sky city to reveal the surface of the Earth below, and it's a polluted, unlivable wasteland. That's pure atompunk.

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