Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Happy Hump Day, Everyone. Thanks for visiting my sanctuary. This is my safe haven where we can relax in the comfort and encouragement of each other’s presence — free of bullies and passive aggressive princesses. Although, I’m allowing certain “punks.” That’s my prerogative as proprietress and bouncer.
I wrote the first version of this post two years ago. Lately several people have told me that they weren’t familiar with #Steampunk before they got onboard The Delta Pearl (my weekend serial), so I’m revamping the information and sharing again.
After I started writing a serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, back in 2015, I realized that I was writing steampunk. (I’m waiting to “bookize” that serial until I finish the second adventure for my fictional version of Cornelis Drebbel, the Alchemist of that story.) Fiona Finch and the Pink Valentine is another of my steampunk stories.
Anyhow, suddenly aware that I was writing in a genre, I had to learn about it. To my surprise, there were all sorts of “punks,” including and beyond steampunk.
Punk, regardless of type, includes the ascetic as well as the level of technology that is likely to exist during the era of the story. In fact, the list of “punks” goes on and on, and the definitions for each punk vary greatly. No matter what definition you choose, someone will disagree.
Some punks aren’t defined by the era of the technology. I’m not going to dig into those. Here, I’m going to stick with what I can order based on a loose timeline.
Any kind of punk tends to have a fantasy or science fiction element added to the mix. One thing that tends to be a common thread is an element of rebellion, or characters who are off-beat, misfits, or outcasts. You know I love to write that kind of character. Now, remember, that’s just one simplified definition.
I’m giving you a few examples. However, things don’t always get listed in the “punk” where I’d think they would fall.
Let’s start with steampunk.
Steampunk would have technology at the level of steam engines (as in the late 1800s to the early 1900s). It usually looks like a slightly off-kilter version of the Victorian Era, sometimes called (no surprise) the Steam Era. While it’s far from the first thing I would consider, a widely accepted example of steampunk is Dinotopia (books and movies).
Even though he lived long before the genre was named, a great example of a steampunk author is Jules Verne. You can find some of his stories free at Project Gutenberg.
Dieselpunk comes next, here on my unofficial list. Most would place diesel-punk as an era following steampunk. It has been described as a setting during the “interwar period,” the period between the end of the First World War in November 1918 and the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939.
Diesel-punk stories often include a lot of black smoke from those engines. I’ve seen Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow given as an example of diesel-punk. My series Hullaba Lulu (hopefully book-ized soon) is diesel-punk.
Atompunk comes next. It usually falls into the period of 1945 – 1965, the Atomic Age, or the Space Age. It includes things like mid-century Modernism, the USA’s space program, Sputnik, the moon landing, radioactivity, and paranoia about Communism.
My current novel in progress could be listed as atompunk. It’s quite a genre mashup, but the element is there.
Cyberpunk, let’s not forget that. It has been described as the first punk genre. However, sometimes I’ve seen stories called cyberpunk, which don’t conform to the “time line” method in which I’m approaching this post.
Cyberpunk plots tend to center on artificial intelligences, hackers, and mega-corporations. These tales are often set in a near-future Earth, rather than times far-flung into future, or long ago and faraway. Many cyberpunk stories are post-industrial dystopias. They might include weird cultural alterations or use technology in ways never anticipated by the inventors. Cyberpunk’s atmosphere reminds some people of film noir. The film Blade Runner is an example of cyberpunk.
For a comprehensive article — although it is just one take on the many different explanations of all the “punks” out there, you might check this post, Punkpunk: A Compendium of Literary Punk Genres. I didn’t agree with everything stated there — as I said there are almost as many different definitions as there are write-ups. However, it is an interesting read with a lot of information.
Naturally, Wikipedia has a good list as well. That link goes to a massive list of all genres, but it includes their breakdown on various forms of punk.
While you probably never thought about it, there is such a thing as Tesla-punk! One day I will write Tesla-punk. A certain pigeon keeps asking to have her story told.
Leave a comment and let me know what kind of punk you enjoy. Or maybe you want me to try one kind of punk or another that I haven’t written yet. I love to hear from you. Be well, be happy.
Hugs on the wing!
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