Throughout the past 30 years, the suffix "punk" has been added to a great many literary genres. The original and most pervasive of which has been "cyberpunk." Following that came splatterpunk, biopunk, steampunk, and now dieselpunk. Oh so much punk, so many cute literary classifications.
I am writing this post in reply to a question someone had about the selections for my November writing project (there is still time to vote on it here. Pimping my work! Pimping my work!) One of the ideas I had was for a work of dieselpunk. So what is "dieselpunk?"
According to that oh so venerable source Wikipedia: "Dieselpunk is based on the aesthetics of the interbellum period through World War II (c. 1920-1945). The genre combines pop surrealist art with postmodern technology and sensibilities."
All things being equal, I'd rather make up my own mind.
In order to break down this meme, let's start with the aforementioned suffix, "punk." "Punk" implies rebellion, whether that rebellion be against one's parents, one's boss, or the like. Within punk, there is not only an attitude of "up yours" but an inherent stick-to-it-iveness, an ideology that says "I will do this myself and I need no one to do it for me or with me." The marginalized characters of many a William Gibson novel display this viewpoint via the employment of ubiquitous technology to their own ends, beating the establishment (what little there was of it) at its own game. I tender that the "literary punk manifesto" might be broken down into something as succinct as, "don't lead me, don't follow me, and if you get in my way I will kill you." Punk of course was primarily a musical movement. To learn more, listen to records by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Ramones. For more contemporary examples, I'd probably point to Bad Religion, Green Day, and Rancid. Now couple this attitude with the era that just precedes World War II; the Jazz Age, in other words. The time of Art Deco. Infuse that with say...the technology of jet engines and just watch what happens. Both punk and high technology occur decades before when they were supposed to. What would be the logical outcomes of this?
I don't know if my germinal idea for a dieselpunk novel would answer much of that question, but I do know that I would provide an entertaining story in the process of it. Imagine, if you will, a World War II fought with jet fighters, processed by computers, and with the availability of every superweapon that the Nazis or Nikola Tesla ever dreamed up. In the midst of all of that would be a platoon of regular American soldiers. After all, the essence of punk is in part the essence of humanity, a soul that cries "fuck no, I will not accept this!!"
Will this be my November writing project? I don't know. I am currently entertaining about five other ideas, all of which light my fire as much as the dieselpunk story does. What to do, what to do? Well, you can help decide that.
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