Guest Post by Lindsay Kitson / WOTI 777 Challenge

Today’s guest is an up-and-coming novelist (and pilot!) that I sat on with my first-ever panel at Keycon, Manitoba. Representing Dieselpunk, Lindsay Kitson is here to tell us about her favorite genre, and give us a little history on not only how things changed, but the things we still use to this day that was WWI and WWII technology – or at least inspired from. Finally, Lindsay will share with us a segment from her novel, The Eyelet Dove, for our 777 Challenge. Without further ado, here’s Lindsay! ~L.T. Getty

Top 10 Dieselpunk Things We Still Use

For those who aren’t familiar with dieselpunk, it’s basically steampunk with internal combustion. The aesthetic is based upon the technology level of approximately the period from the first to the second world wars. (For a more detailed description, I have an article on my site).

It can be a lot of fun worldbuilding, once you realize how versatile the dieslpunk aesthetic is, and that you can give your characters some of the conveniences of a modern world. That period was the beginning of an era where many of the things we take for granted today first became commonplace. I’ve thrown a few together here:

  1. Plastic: The first synthetic plastic ever produced was Bakelite, in 1909. It caught on quickly and was used for all kinds of things – at one point they were even considering making coins out of it. This led to many other types of plastic being developed, but even this particular formula is still used today for certain things, like billiard balls and chess pieces.

  2. The Toilet: Yup. This one was invented earlier, but it took some time for the infrastructure to catch up.

  3. Electricity: Again, also discovered earlier, but at first it was just this kinda neat thing that scientists were playing around with. The years around WWI and WWII are the period where it came into more common use, and fixtures installed in houses, and the concept became functional in people’s everyday lives.

  4. The Internal Combustion Engine: Diesel or gasoline, this was again, invented somewhat earlier, but the period associated with dieselpunk was the time when the horse fell from favour and was replaced by the automobile.

  5. Heavier Than Air Flight: The very first heavier than air flying machines certainly belong to the wonder of Steampunk, but when you get to aeroplanes that were more functional, then you’re getting into Dieselpunk. Those early planes barely flew. It’s not until you get to WWI that planes were actually used for scouting, and eventually combat.

  6. Radar: This was a big thing in WWII, particularly in the Battle of Britain. Britain’s airforce was pitifully outnumbered when Germany attacked. Germany, however, didn’t know how advanced Britain’s radar capability was, and the British RAF were able to respond to attacks far faster than they otherwise would have. It made the difference between the allies winning and losing numerous battles.

  7. Radio: This is a big one when it comes to structuring a scene. Before radio, there was no such thing as being able to communicate over distance. You couldn’t (short of magic) have a character in one place speaking in real time with a character in a distant location. It can make major battle scenes much more interesting because it means you can have one character in danger, while others are in communication with them, but unable to help. You can sideline characters while still keeping them in a scene, without copping out by making them pathetic and helpless.

  8. Machine Guns: Mechanized death. Humans learned a few things from WWI. One of them was that charging by the hundreds into a machine that can mow humans and horses down by the hundreds is a bad idea. This is why the death toll of WWI was 16 million.

  9. Jet Engines: This is getting towards the end of WWII, but there were indeed jet propelled aircraft taking part in WWII. The German’s Luftwaffe jets could get to Britain, maybe fly around five minutes, and had to go back before they ran out of fuel, granted. But they were there, and they flew real fast.

  10. The Bomb: WWII marks the advent of nuclear weapons, but also non-weaponized nuclear technology.

So, Dieselpunk takes many of the wonderful inventions of what we consider the Steampunk era, and streamlines them into tools that are more efficient and less unweildy. The wonderous inventions of the Steampunk world become everyday things that common people have access to. Public transportation ceases to be the endless roads of medeival fantasy, and becomes a train ride of several hours, freeing a story up to focus on the locations where meaningful action is occuring. Tons of ways for a story to be fresh and original in worldbuilding, whether a writer is going alternate history, dystopian, or secondary world.

Lindsay Kitson
WOTI 777 Challenge: The Eyelet Dove
“Why hide all that about your mother? I mean, you’re not ashamed of it, and I’m not saying there should be any reason to be, Pete knows how many young men in the military have Gottman blood. But you never let an opportunity to embarrass your father pass. Why hide this?”
“I’m not hiding it,” said Michel. “Just waiting for the right moment.”Etienne chuckled and shook his head. “I think I’d pay to see that right moment.”
Lindsay Kitson
can learn more about The Eyelet Dove Here.

WOTI 777 ChallengeJ

On that note, I’ll tag January Bain for the 777 challenge!


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4 responses to “Guest Post by Lindsay Kitson / WOTI 777 Challenge

  1. Pingback: Guest Post Over At Worlds Of The Imagination | Lindsay Kitson - Dieselpunk Author

  2. I was very interested in the things which Lindsay Kitson thought typified the dieselpunk era as I run a dieselpunk/art deco airport in Second Life, and it encouraged me to do some further research. Two things I did find where that (1) being able to communicate instantaneously over distance actually starts with the electric telegraph and Morse code, the first commercially successful transatlantic telegraph cable being completed in 1866, and (2) the machine gun started more or less with the Gatling Gun around the time of the American Civil War, but had to wait for the invention of the Maxim Gun in 1884 to be successful. My nominations for the top ten would be mass manufacture, which started with the American pattern system of manufacture in the U.S. Civil War but really took off with people like Henry Ford, and the modern zip fastener designed by Gideon Sundback in 1913.

    • Mass manufacture is definitely a big one – I just thought it was kind of too general a concept, rather than an actual “Item” to be included on a list of items.

      I suppose what I mean when I’m talking about radio being the first time you could communicate over distance, is in real time. As if you were speaking to someone. A telegraph or morse code message is generally delivered like a letter – composed and then sent. Radio introduces the possibility of a conversation, where the words are heard as they are spoken. You can hear the gunfire in the background, the aeroplane’s engine, explosions, etc, as they happen. You can have a character in the middle of the action, using a radio, but to try and have them do the same thing with a telegram would be like having a character try and write a letter while being shot at. (As entertaining as that could be….it’s tempting.)

      An interesting note on the Gatling gun – Gatling guns were still being used in WWII. Towards the end, when the speed of aeroplanes increased to the point that standard machine guns couldn’t fire fast enough to spray an effective tracking shot, it was because of problems with the gun barrels overheating and losing their shape. To deal with that, they brought back Gatling style guns, to give the barrels time to cool between shots.

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