Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Does Dieselpunk Demand Darkness?

“I wonder if that's how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out. I don't want it to win.” ― Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

Dieselpunk has reputation for being a dark genre-punk. The seeds of this reputation were planted in its origin when one of its founders, Lewis Pollak, back in 2001 described it as being darker and dirtier than Steampunk. That phrase stuck and ever since Dieselpunk has been labeled as a dark genre.


I have to admit that I kind of like that reputation. Being a “Dirty Thirties” kind of Dieselpunk myself dark appeals to me. Even my interest in the other Diesel Era decades tends to be dark (mobsters of the Roaring Twenties and World War 2 of the 1940s).

With all of this being said, there is nothing in the definition of Dieselpunk that requires it to be this way.

The web site Dieselpunks.org has the definition written by Dieselpunk Founding Father Tome Wilson, which has become the standard for the genre:

Dieselpunk is a style of art that combines the spirit of the Jazz Age (1920s-1945) with a contemporary twist. We welcome all people from all nations and all walks of life.

Notice the absence of being dirty and dark from this definition. My own spin of the definition doesn’t require darkness either:

Dieselpunk is a mashup of modern ideas with the style and spirit of the 1920s through the early 1950s. The goal is to combine the zeitgeist of the past with today's ideas in order to build a better tomorrow.

In addition, there’s a positive flavor of Dieselpunk. Known as Hopeful Ottensian and named after the Dieselpunk Founding Father Nick Ottens this style of Dieselpunk gives a positive spin to the genre. I wrote about Hopeful Ottensian Dieselpunk here on my blog back on November 7, 2010.

An example of positive Dieselpunk
Dieselpunks reputation for being dark is well deserved for much of it is. However, this darkness is not the full picture.

1 comment:

Minal Kapoor said...

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