Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Grand Dark

Novelist Richard Kadrey is best known for his highly popular paranormal series “Sandman Slim”. Mr. Kadrey has now released a dieselpunk novel titled “The Grand Dark.” Cory Doctorow with the website Boing Boing describes the novel as “a noir, diesel punk book set in a Weimar world of war trauma, debauchery, cabaret and looming disaster — and it's superb.”

According to Amazon:
From the bestselling author of the Sandman Slim series, a lush, dark, stand-alone fantasy built off the insurgent tradition of China Mieville and M. John Harrison—a subversive tale that immerses us in a world where the extremes of bleakness and beauty exist together in dangerous harmony in a city on the edge of civility and chaos.

The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism—drugs and sex and endless parties—distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.

Unlike others who live strictly for fun, Largo is an addict with ambitions. A bike messenger who grew up in the slums, he knows the city’s streets and its secrets intimately. His life seems set. He has a beautiful girlfriend, drugs, a chance at a promotion—and maybe, an opportunity for complete transformation: a contact among the elite who will set him on the course to lift himself up out of the streets.

But dreams can be a dangerous thing in a city whose mood is turning dark and inward. Others have a vision of life very different from Largo’s, and they will use any methods to secure control. And in behind it all, beyond the frivolity and chaos, the threat of new war always looms.

You can read Cory Doctorow LA Times review here.

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey is published by Harper Voyager and can be purchased now.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Art of Tim Razumovsky

Recently Stuart Antony posted a great piece of art by Tim Razumovsky on the Facebook page Dieselpunk Depot. Upon seeing it I contacted Mr. Razumovsky via email. We discussed his Aurora Noir art series, dieselpunk, decopunk and more. Following are excerpts from our conversation.

Aurora Noir - Golden Magnolia (Click to expand)

Tim Razumovsky: AURORA NOIR is a personal project with all my free time invested in it. Within this project, I'm actually combining my love for old-fashioned cinema, retro sci-fi art, architecture and industrial design. I try not to lock myself creatively and I'm not committed to anything historically, I prefer not to categorize my work in a certain genre or eras, whether it's 20's, 50's, cyberpunk, dieselpunk etc. Although, I really like the DECOPUNK thing, I'll adapt it. Thank you! What's more important to me in every artwork, is strong sense of believability and atmosphere. The themes I choose to present in my works are basically tiny fragments of a much bigger picture and story that I have, which I hope someday will catch the eye of the right producer.

Myself: Would you mind telling my readers a little about yourself?

Tim Razumovsky: I'm a 36 years old digital artist based in Tel - Aviv. I started my artistic journey at a very early age.

I have a degree in screen based arts at the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design. I have been working professionally for about 10 years now. As I mentioned earlier, I'm very much into mid-20th century cinema, art, design and architecture.

Aurora Noir - Robo Rats (Click to expand)

Myself: Of your different creations in the Aurora Noir series, which would you say is your favorite and why?

Tim Razumovsky: I don't think I have a favorite. I invest the best of my abilities in each piece, and of course, each one of them has things I'm proud of and things I'm less proud of. I try to act according to the formula that my favorite creation is the one I haven't created yet. This mindset helps me to try my best with every piece.

Aurora Noir - Aurora Express (Click to expand)

Myself: Do you have any recommendations for any reader who wishes to become a digital artist?

Tim Razumovsky: It's a bit difficult for me to give recommendations on this matter, because in my eyes -  it's a completely individual decision to become an artist (any type of artist). The only recommendation I can give is - a person who's willing to become an artist has to make sure he makes this decision for the right reason, and by the right reason I mean -  true passion, physical need to create.

Visit his ArtStation page for more of Tim Razumovsky's great art.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


People who know me know that I’m rarely at a lost for words. However, as I watched the recent news about the 75th anniversary of D-Day I was moved beyond words. What words can one say about young men who willingly ran into the mouth of hell on some foreign beach to help defeat the greatest evil the world has ever seen? Estimates of the number of deaths range as high as 10,000 with over 4,000 confirmed. These numbers don't begin to describe the horror and sacrifice of that day.

Saying “thank you” doesn’t seem enough. But at this time, it’s the best I can do.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Kung Fury 2

A special thank you to my good friend John Pyka (Bid Daddy Cool) for this news.

Ever learned of a sequel to a movie and thought to yourself “How the hell did I miss the original?” Well, this is one of those cases for me. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the feature-length Kung Fury 2 has started pre-production. Before talking about Kung Fury 2, let’s rewind back to the original.

How do I describe Kung Fury? How about a snippet of what Wiki has to say:

Sometime in the early 1980s, Miami-Dade Police Department detective Kung Fury and his partner Dragon apprehend a red ninja in a back alley, but Dragon is sliced in half by the ninja while Kung Fury is suddenly struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra, giving him extraordinary kung fu powers that enable him to defeat his foe. Years later in 1985, after defeating a rogue arcade machine robot, Kung Fury quits the force when he is assigned to partner with Triceracop, fearing that he would lose another partner in the line of duty. Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler, a.k.a. "Kung Führer", enters the timeline and remotely guns down the police chief and attacks the precinct through a mobile phone. Intent to avenge the chief, Kung Fury has computer whiz Hackerman send him back in time to kill Hitler in Nazi Germany. A glitch in the system, however, sends him back into the Viking Age. After Kung Fury meets the Viking valkyries Barbarianna and Katana, the Norse god Thor sends him to Nazi Germany for him to finish his job.

Scene from Kung Fury

If that doesn’t make sense to you that’s okay. Kung Fury isn’t about making sense. Released in 2015, Kung Fury is a hilarious throwback romp that's meant to capture the campy spirit of the 1980s. The decodence, and hence the dieselpunk, is with the appearance of Adolf Hitler as the “Kung Fuhrer”. The big finale fight scene in Nazi Germany is so dieselpunk, so over the top, and is so much fun.

Concerning the sequel. The Hollywood Report describes Kung Fury 2:

Co-written by Sandberg and Tyler Burton Smith, the action is set in 1985, the best year ever. Miami is kept safe under the watchful eye of Kung Fury, the greatest damn cop of all time. His Thundercops are the ultimate police force assembled from across history to defeat the villainous Kung Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. But after the tragic death of one of their members causes the group to disband, a mysterious villain emerges from the shadows to aid in the Fuhrer’s quest to attain the ultimate weapon. Kung Fury must travel through space and time to save his friends, defend the prestigious Miami Kung Fu Academy and defeat evil once and for all.

Did you miss the original as I did? Well good news, friend. The whole campy Kung Fury short movie is available on YouTube. You’re welcome.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Teapot Dome Scandal

The US news is filled with reports of Congress demanding that the IRS turn over President Trump’s tax return for the last six years. Congress is using an obscure law from 1924 that, according to House Democrats, would allow them to make such demands. Needless to say the reference to 1924 should raise the eyebrows of any dieselpunk. To understand this law requires us to look back to the 1920s and what had been the worst scandal in US history until Watergate: the Teapot Dome Scandal.

US President Warren G. Harding

The following is a brief summary stolen borrowed from Wikipedia,

The Teapot Dome scandal was a bribery scandal involving the administration of United States President Warren G. Harding from 1921 to 1923. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming, and two locations in California, to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. The leases were the subject of a seminal investigation by Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies, Fall became the first presidential cabinet member to go to prison; no one was convicted of paying the bribes.

Before the Watergate scandal, Teapot Dome was regarded as the "greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics". It damaged the reputation of the Harding administration, which was already severely diminished by its controversial handling of the Great Railroad Strike of 1922 and Harding's veto of the Bonus Bill in 1922. Congress subsequently passed legislation, enduring to this day, giving subpoena power to House and Senate for review of tax records of any US citizen without regard to elected or appointed position, nor subject to White House interference.

Once again, the mundane world is reminded of what every dieselpunk already knows. To understand the present you must first understand the past.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Bauhaus Turns 100

“If today's arts love the machine, technology and organization, if they aspire to precision and reject anything vague and dreamy, this implies an instinctive repudiation of chaos and a longing to find the form appropriate to our times.” - Oskar Schlemmer, German Bauhaus artist

April 12, 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the German art school known as Bauhaus. Founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, the Bauhaus movement combined crafts with fine arts to create the most highly influential modernist school of art of the 20th century.

According to the website The Art Story,
The Bauhaus was influenced by 19th and early-20th-century artistic directions such as the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as Art Nouveau and its many international incarnations, including the Jugendstil and Vienna Secession. All of these movements sought to level the distinction between the fine and applied arts, and to reunite creativity and manufacturing; their legacy was reflected in the romantic medievalism of the Bauhaus ethos during its early years, when it fashioned itself as a kind of craftsmen's guild. But by the mid-1920s this vision had given way to a stress on uniting art and industrial design, and it was this which underpinned the Bauhaus's most original and important achievements. The school is also renowned for its extraordinary faculty, who subsequently led the development of modern art - and modern thought - throughout Europe and the United States.

When the Nazis took over in 1933 they proceeded to shut down the Bauhaus schools in Germany. Afterwards, several major Bauhaus leaders fled to the US. In 1933, the Jewish-born Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy formed what later would become the Institute of Design in Chicago. Walter Gropius relocated to the US in 1937 and taught at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. That same year Mies van der Rohe also came to the US and became director of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Diesel PunX

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies with songs like Zoot Suit Riot, Dr. Bones, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddy Strut long ago cemented themselves as one the great dieselpunk bands. Recently the band released the second single from their upcoming new record, Bigger Life. Their new song is titled Diesel PunX.

In their newsletter, singer-songwriter for the band Steve Perry describes it as “a bit of slap bass Psychobilly, a hint of swing, elements of the Clash, and sarcastic, snotty moments of Music Hall tack hammer piano; a harsh, buzzy stew that hopefully impels listeners to sense the working class toughness of the characters.”

Diesel Punx is pure Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and I love it. I can’t think of a better tune than this one to carry the name Diesel PunX.

You can download the song from their website. Their new album, Bigger Life, is scheduled for release on June 14, 2019, and is available for pre-order now.