What is Diesel Punk?

Dieselpunk is a literary and film subculture that developed out of alternative history, which encompasses 30’s and the 40’s.  In almost all Dieselpunk, history takes a dramatic change after world war one.  Dieselpunk has an aesthetic that can be described as art deco.  In reality, you have probably seen many films and books that were dieselpunk and not even known it.  The most notable Dieselpunk movies in later years have been Indiana Jones, Sin City, Suckerpunch, The Mummy, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. More films that are notable are Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Rocketeer, Disney’s Atlantis, Hellboy, and nearly the entire catalog of Studio Ghibili Animation. As well as the hugely successful Captain America movie. These are all dieselpunk films that have been in mainstream media.  All these flicks combine 30’s aesthetics with high tech machinery, and magic that could not have existed in era.


What Separates Dieselpunk from Steampunk, Alternate History, and Science Fiction?


Dieselpunk often pulls from many genres of speculative fiction. Like Steampunk, Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Adventure, Dystopian, and Fantasy. 


The best way to think of Dieselpunk is to imagine the Chicago world fair logo. “It was the world of tomorrow.” Where people believed robots were going to become our new servants, and our cars would fly, and there would never be another world war. Our police and mail carriers would be equipped with jetpacks.


 Of course, world war two was looming just around the corner. Obviously, we never did get our robot maids or our flying cars. Dieselpunk stretches the boundaries of those visions and asks what if we did.  Amazing scientific discoveries are then planted in an era where Louis Armstrong is playing Jazz. Gangsters are roaming the streets and women are all dames and bombshells.

Of course, the real 30-40’s had its flaws. They took away our alcohol. Nationalism was running rampant. Racism, chauvinism, world war, horrible mental care facilities, pollution and the leftovers of the industrial revolution and the first signs of urbanizations showed up in the world. Dieselpunk is Victorian dream gone sour. The victorian dream was proven unrealistic only attainable for the rich. Alternatively normal people starved on farms as the dust bowl began to kick up. Normal folks were forced to live in crowded tenements with no kitchens, and one bathroom per building, they threw their garbage in the streets.  Big cities were scary dark places filled with people that were ready to pop you off with a tommy gun.  


Where can I find other Dieselpunk Books?


The first author who envisioned Dieselpunk was Jules Verne. Verne wrote about submarines and exploring the center of the earth many other fantastic ideas, which were considered science fiction for his time. Science strived to keep up with his imagination and most of his dreams have now become reality. Dieselpunk is no different; there is always some sliver of science fiction and fantasy in the genre. Its inspiration is drawn from people like Nicholas Tesla, Jules Verne, George Orwell, Edward Bulwer- Lytton.

What all these works have in common were they had some sort of fantasy and science fiction plot and they were firmly set by the world wars.



Literary Greats That Diesel Punk Grew Out of.

  • 1984 - George Orwell

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

  • Journey to the center of the Earth -Jules Verne

  • The Vrill -- Edward Bulwer-Lytton


Current Dieselpunk Novels

  • Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld

  • Ignition City—Warren Ellis

  • Hard Magic – Larry Correia

  • I-0 -- Simon Logan

  • Necropolis—Michael Dempsey


Fantastic Diesel Punk Graphic Novels

  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  

  • Fullmetal Alchemist

  • Hellsing

  • Sin City, 

  • The Big O

  • Metropolis

  • Golden Age Captain America

  • Hellboy