2.1 The Diesel Era and Decodence

Dieselpunk draws its inspiration from two related sources: the diesel era and a characteristic referred to as “decodence.”

The term “diesel era” is a period of time that begins with the start of the interbellum era, which covers the time between the end of World War I and the start of World War II. The interbellum era is central to one school of dieselpunk often labeled “Ottensian.” In addition to the interbellum period, World War II also plays a major role in dieselpunk, especially in the school of the genre referred to as “Piecraftian.” The exact ending of the diesel era is in some dispute in the dieselpunk community. Depending on the source it ends either at the conclusion of World War II or continues until the early part of the 1950s with the advent of such cultural icons as the Golden Age of Television and the replacement of Big Band and Swing music with Rock and Roll in popularity.


1925 Art Deco Fashion photo by Edward Steichen

Dieselpunk isn’t limited to the historical events of the diesel era for inspiration. Another important aspect of dieselpunk is a characteristic termed “decodence.” According to The Gatehouse, decodence (likely a portmanteau of “deco” and “decadence”), “embraces the styles and technologies of the era; it rejoices in a prolonged Jazz Age ambience characterized by great enthusiasm and hopes about the future.”


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