What with the recent release of Fallout 4, I, as a writer, thought it the perfect time to discuss the various “punks.”
You’ve probably heard of the most popular one: “Steampunk.” There are, however, various others.
Cyberpunk, Dieselpunk, Atompunk… The list goes on and on. However, most people only tend to think of two: The aforementioned steam and cyber. Now, I don’t know about others, but I find this to be a real shame.
So, I decided to do a bit of thinking about the various punks. What, exactly, makes a punk a punk, and not just creative sci-fi?
Some might disagree, but I find that most sci-fi is a punk of some sort or another. Even some fantasy is a punk. This is likely due to my personal definition of a punk.
So how did I draw the line between punk and ordinary sci-fi? Well, I started by asking a simple question: What’s the difference? What makes a story “punk” instead of just regular science fiction? My answer was simple: Not a whole lot.
First, there’s the tendency for these stories to take place in a more near future, rather than the distant future like Star Trek. The scale is more feasible, more believable. However, that’s only a tendency, not a solid definition. The only thing I could find, was that all punks revolved around a certain technology or technological style, and had technology more advanced then the time they were written. For cyberpunk, computers. Steampunk? Steam. Dieselpunk? Diesel. Atompunk? Atomic energy. They also tend to have a culture that emulates the place and time where the technology was invented, but that isn’t a requirement.
So, that’s it. That’s what makes a punk a punk. At least, in my mind. There’s still more to it though. Punks have strong ties with retrofuturism. (Google it.) This is likely due to a tendency for punks to focus mostly older tech. However, a lot is still left out. So I’m going to end this rant with two punks that I find don’t get enough attention, and a request for you to list some of your favorite unconventional punks. (Maybe ones that don’t even have a name yet?)
Scrap-punk: Machines made from bits and bobs found in dumpsters and junkyards, rather than neat and tidy pre-made parts. Here are some examples to google: KND, Bodgers (a series of card games made by Privateer Press), and my own Homesick. (You’ll see. Just wait until the microwave.)
Alchemy-punk: Now, this one is so rare it’s practically non-existent. Alchemy-punk is a genre where magic is a science, not an art. Spell-casting is out, complex machines running off the four elements are in! I’d love to give examples, but I can’t find any good ones. Send me some if you find ’em.