Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Dieselpunk Manifesto: Why Write Dieselpunk?

Branding yourself a Dieselpunk writer is an odd thing to do, and to be honest it’s more for my benefit than any potential reader. I actually write pulpy action-adventure stories that involve biplanes, gangsters, Caribbean safaris and old-school mad scientists. But I do put a lot of effort into theming my stories in order to experiment with ideas and genres and for some reason I just clicked with the Dieselpunk vibe. I enjoy the stories that happen when I think Dieselpunk so that’s why I write them.

Working out why I enjoy them is a completely different issue.

I started writing Tommy Thunder set in the 1920s because that’s the golden age of adventure, a time in which the world still hadn’t been completely mapped, but the technology existed to take you to those places anyway. The chance to explore those blank spaces of possibility is what gives the era so many possibilities. It was this excitable attitude that characterises many of the writers of the era, a certain amount of idealistic positivity that, while in some cases poorly guided, it provided a world of imagination and possibility that looked to the stars and beyond with an energy that’s hard to match these days. Their imagination ran wild with stories of what was out there in the world, out there in the galaxy and out there in the future. It made for some fantastic imaginating.
The Future!!! We just don't think like this any more.
 But because of this pulpy optimism, Tommy Thunder is decidedly Dieselpunk-averse. While I can touch on Dieselpunk ideas, the pure naive optimism of Tommy under the clear blue skies of the Caribbean prevents me exploring the gritty cool of Chicago and New York, and with it the reasons why so many people love the symbols of the age, the clothing, the music and the design. I’m fascinated with the idea that people would rather live there than here and I want to know why. And I want to know why I enjoy all these things as well.
Not really a Caribbean kinda gal...
 So Tommy wasn’t enough. As fun as he is, Tommy is not able to explore the Dieselpunk side of life, a set of ideas that fascinate me no end and exists within the same era as Tommy, if not in the same spirit.  In order to explore Dieselpunk I need gangsters and fast cars and mad scientists and speakeasies, and while all those things will show up in a Tommy Thunder story, they won’t be distilled the way they will be in Tales of the Aether Age, my Dieselpunk ‘label’. In Tales I can go nuts and explore the arguments of Dieselpunk, get my noir on and explore the Jazz Age’s seedier political corners without compromising Tommy’s story. I get to explore ‘casual-isation’, ‘mainstream criminality’ and the everyday politics of art deco design while Tommy gets to shoot biplanes out of the sky. Everyone wins :)

Holodeck Dieselpunks/Tales of the Aether Age readers.
To that end I’d also like to announce something very exciting. This is where I reveal that my first piece of published writing will soon be released, a Dieselpunk story published as the first Tale of the Aether Age. I’m quite chuffed with how it turned out and it will be released as part of an anthology released in conjunction with Dieselpunks.org, the internet’s best source for all things Dieselpunk. More info to be posted during the week but for now I’ll leave you with the title of my first story and a working cover: 

That Sort of World: A Tale of the Aether Age.

Whatcha think? Release date is the 18th February so I'll have more details soon.

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