Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Hi there Dieselpeople!

I am a great fan of both Steampunk and Dieselpunk; in my country (Italy) I'm trying to promote our beautiful culture by founding the first Italian Dieselpunk page and group.

And I was wondering... About the "correct" Dieselpunk timeline. Well, as Tome cleverly stated in another article, Dieselpunks are not interested into historical purity, so history accuracy is surely important but not so vital in our imaginary landscape.

But, as part of the definition of "what is DP" itself, we must in a certain way find an appropriate timespan to settle our imaginary vision of the future (or of the past, if you prefer!) in a way in which it becomes immediately recognizable.

For example, many of you say that "Dieselpunk is a style that blends the art and culture of the 1920s - 1950s with today." But in my own view, this is a bit restricting. I tend to see a larger timespan for DP, as for example from the very last years of Victorian era (1890s or so), to the first half of the 1950s.
 Sort of a Belle-Epoque-inspired in some points, maybe, with hints of Steampunk aesthetics too.

Many of my Steampunk-friends do not agree with my idea, finding it something similar to an "hybrid", others do, I mean DP is a very ecleptic culture so maybe it's more about the feeling and the flavour you give it than the historical point of view (e.g. outfits: one can dress as a Victorian lady and be immediately recognizable as Steampunk, and one can dress as a pre-WWI soldier using lots of cogs too, but still being immediately recognizable as Dieselpunk-inspired).

As Tome stated, I do not fancy historical purity. So the concept of "Diesel Era" is really vague and tractable for me. And I was just curious about your opinion. What kind of Dieselpunk timeline do you choose as your own?


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I think that some degree of slicing and dicing is okay, but I think we're approaching it wrong. We are looking for the zeitgeist - the peak. But we are only labeling the crests, the edges. I think instead of trying to figure out, where the different xpunks start and end, we should figure out where they peak. The middle of their timelines. Atompunk peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or perhaps earlier, during the "bomber gap" hysteria? Steampunk, should be marked in the middle by the saturation of steam trains, and the subsequent adoption of "railway time" by the Victorian British. Dieselpunk should be marked during the crest of wartime production (and rationing) during the second world war.

So we have these dates instead

Steampunk: 1860

Dieselpunk: 1942

Atom Punk: 1962

And they radiate out to the eras surrounding them. So the aesthetics of one year were largely the aesthetics of the next. The fifties we not all cold war all atomic everything, just as the Edwardian era was not the loud-talkin' mass produced dieselfest some would hope for. Large cultural shifts, even dramatic ones, happen with time, and the "barriers" between "periods" are fuzzy at best, nonexistent at worst. I think that a work is dieselpunk by its attitude and technology, not its timeframe, but being closer to the zeitgeist of the "diesel" era makes it more likely that a work will be dieselpunk.

Well put, Mikey, and great idea on marking the peak of the curve rather than the ends. Wish I'd thought of that.

Of course I'd say Steampunk peaks in 1880 when steam trains and steam ships were well established rather than just starting to make their effects felt and I'd be tempted to call the Diesel peak a bit earlier, say '38 when the crap's just getting ready to hit the fan (let the era peak debate commense! Ha! ;-P).

Fully agree it's about the tech and the attitude rather than the callender.

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