So You Think You’re Dieselpunk?

A stubble faced man wearing a slept-in looking suit and bowler hat puffs on a smoke. ‘What brings a dame like you to a dive like this?’ he asks in a scratchy, cigarette-bathed voice.

The girl (hoop skirt, hand fan, cogs and sprockets on her violet fascinator), her eyes intent on the raggedy man, replies, ‘And why, pray, would that be any business of yours?’

Ding-ding-ding! And here folks, we kick off the second part of “So You Think You’re Steampunk?” with a little more clarification of this puzzling genre. Or possibly a little more muddying depending on your receptiveness to my introduction of another sub-genre – Dieselpunk.

What on Earth is Dieselpunk?

More digging and I’ve discovered an offshoot of Steampunk called “Dieselpunk”. Among a plethora of other “punks” this one resonated on account of summing up neatly movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Dark City, comics like V for Vendetta and games like Bioshock. That is, a World War 2 period style with noir qualities (makes sense, noir, a cheap by-product of little money following the wars was a style part created accidentally through budget constraints rather than actual thought to create a new genre). So we aren’t talking about a sex pistol doused in petrol. Also, as Wikipedia states, this sub-genre is sometimes known as Decopunk –

…referring to the Art Deco art style (including its Streamline Moderne variant). The genre combines the artistic and genre influences of the period (including pulp magazines, serial films, film noir, art deco, and wartime pinups) with postmodern technology and sensibilities. First coined in 2001 as a marketing term by game designer Lewis Pollak to describe his role-playing game Children of the Sun,[15] Dieselpunk has grown to describe a distinct style of visual art, music, motion pictures, fiction, and engineering. Examples include Crimson Skies, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Dark City, the BioShock series[16], and even Fisher-Price’s Imaginext Sky Racers toy airplanes for children (

I’d argue the world of Batman in its many incarnations and re-imaginings could often be classed as an example of Dieselpunk and also the world featured in many of Ed’s scrawlings on hotel coasters circa the last five years would certainly fall under the Steampunk/Dieselpunk umbrella. Interestingly these worlds can and will collide – for example Steampunk is often described as taking place in a Victorian setting but featuring alternate histories with “futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them” (to quote the Steampunk Wiki entry again – Then take a look at Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy which includes more than three separate worlds – Lyra’s alternate Steampunk-y Oxford and Will’s modern/present world (our own).

So You think You’re Steampunk?

Today girls and boys, I’d like to kick off my research on “Steampunk” – well you call it Steampunk, many call it a way of life, but to each her own.

so what is steampunk? A silly game of adult dress-up? High fashion for grown-ups? Or maybe it’s all about movies and video games, books and television? As it turns out, lots of things fall under the steampunk umbrella.

Wikipedia states:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used – usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain – that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.

Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace’s Analytical engine.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian.

But then all sorts of things fall under steampunk for their atmosphere if nothing else – literature like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and perhaps more interestingly (as it doesn’t really fit the mold of that wiki quote), Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Also movies like Spirited Away and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, comic books like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and video games like Bioshock. Even Batman – and I’ll argue this (if I even need to) in an upcoming post.

My job, with my interest in both history and fantasy is to seek out this peculiar genre in and out of games, literature and film, analyse it, give it a bash and examine the cogs that fall out when I do so.

Welcome to Sisters Noir

All righty then, here we are. When I said “trials and tribulations,” in my last post I’d left it all suitably vague. Slowly though, this place is shaping up. So, what exactly is this place?

Sisters Noir is a space on the net to represent my stories and hopefully a growing community. The world of Sisters Noir blends modern (us, now!), with old (Victorian/steampunk) and snippets from several genres including modern fantasy and noir (film noir, hard-boiled coppers and voluptuous Femme Fatales).

Be sure to check out the guest contributors – Amelia and Laurence writing about their lives – soon I’m told they’ll reveal more of their interests I think you’ll find interesting too. They’re very into “the cause” (see above paragraph) too. Also be sure to check out the Last FM, Facebook and Twitter profiles on their pages. Add, follow and like away!

Expect the Scribbles section to appear very soon, all of the images are scanned and ready, they just need yours truly to create an adequate gallery template to house them. Bah. Anyway, enjoy your Easter and check back soon!

Expecting to Fly

So I did the whole “being sociable” thing with Bev et al. Not half bad. Not half tipsy! I spent a fair portion of the next day  (luckily my day off),  sleeping. What a night though. Made me think about what I’ve been missing and I almost pulled – four times! Still got it, sorry boys! Also I seem to know more than that lot when it comes to modern celeb culture (for better or worse). Will need to cut down my trashy magazine intake :-).

That said…

A magazine posed an interesting question today, if I could bring someone back from the dead, who would it be? OK, so not the most original question in the world, but I’m not much fussed if it gets me thinking. The obvious candidates ran through my mind – Monroe, Presley, Sellers. Beverley interrupted and then I forgot all about it. Later, in a moment of white wine clarity I decided that in this world of (real and imagined) resurrections maybe the really good people are those you can’t bring back. Those who fought for a future they would never see and died believing in it.

Well dear readership, sorry if I brought you down (!!), but here’s a little something for someone special because I know you’d like it. Lost but not forgotten. Hey, maybe you are out there somewhere still. Being free, keeping it real. I hope so.

For Vika…

Stay beautiful.

Love, Amelia




You may want to just listen to the beautiful music and not actually watch it or you’ll likely go blind. I’m of the opinion you make your own head-videos to accompany great music anyway. This song makes me think of vast open spaces, sun-kissed marble and doves. What does it  conjure for you?