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What is Dieselpunk? Dieselpunk is an aesthetic and literary genre that blends diesel technology with the attitudes of the 1920s-1950s. It typically reflects a nostalgic viewpoint of science, a fear or distrust of new technology, a necessity to defend traditional modes of living against modernity, and embraces old-fashioned values such as hard work, self-reliance, individualism (within reason), and healthful living. Its roots can be traced back as far as 1825 when Jules Verne published “Paris in the Twentieth Century. ” In the 1920s and 1930s, the New Visionaries — a group of mostly British writers who rejected modernity in favour of more familiar structures and values — codified the genre with their own writings.
Where does Dieselpunk Originate?
“Dieselpunk” (given the acronym by Thomas M. Disch, 1982) is a portmanteau coined by Disch from “diesel engine” and “Victorianism.” He defines it as “a literary mode essentially literary in which diesel engines (or other 20th-century technology) are featured prominently.”
The term may be used as shorthand for any work that uses dieselpunk themes or settings.
Dieselpunk draws upon the dieselpunk zeitgeist and is frequently, but not always, set in an alternative version of the inter-war period. It may incorporate additional elements from the 1950s and the Cold War era (e.g. atomic age America), from which it finds its characteristically optimistic retro-futuristic aesthetic. The genre began with works that generally adopt the style and period setting of either science fiction or “hard” magic-based fantasy, but with later works tending to explicitly foreground their steampunk nature; for example, K. W. Jeter’s “Morlock Night” (1979) imagines a scenario in which H. G. Wells’s “Morlock” race is the result of a eugenics experiment gone awry.
Other examples of the genre blend disparate elements from earlier eras; for example, the settings and plot elements of Philip K. Dick’s aforementioned “The Man in the High Castle” (1962) — in which Germany and Japan prevailed in World War II and occupy a divided…