As Steampunk grows in popularity and enters the consciousness of more people, the term is used somewhat haphazardly by people to refer to retrofuturism in general, different subsets of the -punk subcultures, and things that have absolutely nothing to do with Steampunk. There’s a lot of new people to Steampunk, so I’m not surprised that there’s some confusion among new comers as to what constitutes Steampunk.
For most Steampunks, anything set during and after World War 1 or after is generally not considered Steampunk; that’s the realm of Dieselpunk. There’s a gray area with post apocalyptic Steampunk, and with each rule there’s an exception, but our historical roots and influences aren’t really in anything in World War 1 or beyond.
Pyr Books, a leading science fiction publishing company has called their new publication Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann a Steampunk work and features the first “Steampunk Superhero.” Here’s a summary by Publisher’s Weekly:
Mann (The Affinity Bridge) combines the trendy superhero and steampunk genres, but his cardboard characters and laughable dialogue (I had never loved, until I loved you) never attain even the level of parody. In an alternate 1927 Manhattan, a deadly vigilante nicknamed the Ghost stalks the city, attacking the employees of the Roman, a mysterious mobster. The Roman’s men have been committing horrific acts of violence, drawing the attention of police detective Felix Donovan. Also dragged into the plot are carefree playboy Gabriel and his lover, Celeste, who seems to exist solely to sleep with the hero and then be sacrificed to move the plot along. The action sequences are solid, though excessively gory, but there’s little that comic fans haven’t seen done more impressively a dozen times before.
What do you think? Steam or Diesel? I think an alternate 1927 world places this work pretty firmly in Dieselpunk.