Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

I'm crafting an alternate history to support a story I'm writing. When I sat down to play "what if?" I chose the approach of listing the aspects of dieselpunk (and steampunk) that I most liked and the sensibilities ascribed to them. Then I went about trying to craft justification for them (ie, why did the alterna-tech not come into the forefront in the main timestream, and what could change to make it so?). I don't know if this is the wisest way to create a logical existence for alternative reality, but it seems to be working so far, if in fits and starts.

I'm lurking all over the forums here at dp.org and alternatehistory.com. I waffle back and forth between intimidation of the sheer amount of historical detail there is to process, and the burning need to damn the torpedoes and set Zeppelins to warp. I've always believed that the best research one does for fiction writing is something that one absorbs, internalizes, and expresses unconsciously. Facts and figures and interesting tidbits always seem to be lampshaded, unintentionally or not, in fiction I read. The real feel of a book comes from its unconscious tone--the sense that the author is comfortable and familiar in the subject. It's just a little more difficult to feel comfortable in an alternate timeline. :)

Signing off for now from the USS Valkyrie, high in the skies somewhere over a 1930's Europe that never saw the end of World War I

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Comment by Larry on March 16, 2010 at 11:15am
I have to say that I understand exactly what you're going through. I'm nearly through writing a dieselpunk story myself, which is a sequel to the steampunk story that I had written before, but it's set in 1939 where the steampunk was in 1879. My next goal is to write a cyberpunk final story set today, a third sequel same alt history timeline, and make this a trilogy. Then the challenge will be to find someone to publish it. I may even have to self-publish.

My best advice is to know your history. Know it enough to capture the feel of that era so that your reader can feel like they're there. Then think outside the box. Maybe a tech that was never followed through on or an event in history that had things gone differently could help you explain why it's different. There are several "What if" books out there that talk about turning points in history that you can read.

Finally, whatever your scenario remember that most people enjoy a story because it's a damn good tale. You can make all of the history and tech as cool as possible but if the story sucks nobody will read it. If you feel like you can do write a good story then great. If not you might want to ask someone you know to help you on the storyline.

Good luck on your project.
Comment by lord_k on March 15, 2010 at 5:44pm
a logical existence for alternative reality
That's what I'm trying to build, too.
I wish you a lot of patience and imagination.
Comment by Athenaprime on March 15, 2010 at 2:50pm
I like the way you think, Sparky Gage. Some of my ideas center around whether or not a certain technology had the right public relations or "face" to it. If Howard Hughes put his eccentricities and his newsworthy character towards airships instead of airplanes. I like to shore it up with a more practical reason as well, but maybe I'm overthinking.

PS - I love the idea of 10th floor light rail. I'd be so on that in every major city. :)
Comment by Sparky Gage on March 15, 2010 at 2:28pm
OK, I'll bite. One of the things I always look at in history is: What if the Engineers had beaten the Bureaucrats. For example, Lockheed had developed a flying wing bomber back in the 40's. One of the biggest arguments AGAINST it is what was the biggest argument FOR the B2 Stealth Bomber - a very low radar signature. Similarly, later on, the X-15 project was abandoned for the Saturn 5 and similar rocket systems because we wanted to get to the moon fast. But the X-15 was approaching Space Shuttle like trips years before Saturn 5s lifted off for the first time. Were would we be to day? What would our cities lock like if light rail had beaten the Bus in more areas? What if Eiffel had won contracts to build towers in most major cities?

So I guess I'm suggesting, not just looking at a cool looking technology that turned out to be impractical, but looking at cool technologies that lost for political or similar non-technical reasons. The more daring automobile designs from the 30s or 50s. The Frank Loyd Wright homes and offices for the common man.

I always thought New York Sky scrapers should be built with a 10th floor light rail and sky bridges connecting them.

I look forward to seeing how your world turns out.

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