Dieselpunk: for the war effort!
Welcome to The Flying Fortress.
TFF is dedicated exclusively to dieselpunk, a subgenre of retro-futurism styled on the 1930s and 1940s. That sounds good, but what exactly is dieselpunk?
Fortunately, I won’t be the first to tackle this question:
Mr. N. Ottens offers a thoroughly researched exploration of the genre;
Wikipedia user Piecraft has an exhaustive explanation and collection of resources relating to dieselpunk;
Gearing Up, a mixed steampunk and dieselpunk blog, offers a quick personal interpretation;
And finally, various little snippets can be found elsewhere.
Update: Complex39 has spilled a few pixels on the subject, too.
One thing that draws me to dieselpunk is the spirit of the times.
No, not genocide and fascism, I mean the war effort-ish “let’s get together and do it!” spirit in America and elsewhere during this time. I mean the naive, utopian, and starry-eyed mantra: “technology… for a better tomorrow!” There is a sense of hope, of hard work, of stoicism, and of cooperation that I have only found again (in my short lifetime) in some communities on the internet. There is also the rise of new powers: The US, Russia, Japan, Germany, and Brazil, and the comeuppance of repressed groups: women in the workplace, black people in the military, and decolonization.
Next is the aesthetic.
As far as I’m concerned, everything looked better in the 1930s and 1930s. Men’s and women’s fashion is really stylish and snazzy, especially the military stuff. Workwear had a certain charm to it, too (note the goggles). But just look at those automobiles and manufactured goods, like typewriters and cameras… beautiful. When I look at the plastic crap we use today, I get the urge to head out to military surplus and vintage stores to try and get a piece of that period back. Don’t forget all that incredible illustration in the propaganda posters and advertisements at that time.
The DIY spirit is still going strong, but I think it would probably have moved toward enthusiasts modifying existing items rather than becoming mad scientists or inventors. We also don’t have to call things names like “aetheric dynamo.”
As far as warfare goes, we’ve got (post-prototype) submarines and tanks! Take that, steampunk! Don’t forget modern commando units, like the British SAS, and the resistance. We also get the birth of the modern spy and intelligence officer with the US’ OSS, , the Russian NKVD, and the German Gestapo.
Now, everyone’s aware that some terrible parts of the human spirit arose during the 1930s and 1940s. As Dieselpunk is only fantasy and not a serious discussion of history or politics, I see no need to touch on such emotional and depressing subjects on TFF. History discussions are not really appropriate here, except in order to describe where you take an idea from, and hate speech will not be tolerated. That said, it is not hate speech to admire the aesthetic an Axis power’s style of uniform or piece of equipment, as long as it is not necessarily or overtly political (such as the swastika or the fascia).
Ultimately, it’s your fantasy.
My own and other people’s definitions aside, dieselpunk, like any subculture, is what you make it. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention nuclear power or jazz. Include and leave out anything you like, as long as you don’t stray too far into other genres (e.g. atomicpunk) without designating yourself as a hybrid or something. Pick and choose what you want from the time period and have fun.
Okay, now it’s your turn. What is your definition of dieselpunk? What draws you to it? What is your ratio of Diesel to punk? Uncle Sam wants YOU to post a comment (and buy war bonds, save aluminum, etc).
P.S.: if you were looking for steampunk, you’re off by at least 50 years. This is what you want.