Punk: Mexican Revolution Style

David Mark Brown

Today I’ve featuring author David Mark Brown’s article Punk: Mexican Revolution Style, as part of his virtual book tour for his newly released novel: Fistful of Reefer. While this novel is set in a Diesel, rather than a Steampunk setting, it’s likely to appeal to retrofuturistic punks regardless of their particular era of choice or label they use to describe it. His insightful and expansive view of Dieselpunk is sure to intrigue and spark new conversations for both us and our cousins in anachronism. Fistful of Reefer is due out this Thursday, the 28th in various e-book formats.

Punk: Mexican Revolution Style by David Mark Brown

Dieselpunk literature typically brings to mind either pulpy noir images (stuff like Dick Tracey, Batman, Doc Savage and Sin City) or alternate histories involving Hitler (eg. Inglorious Bastards, Fatherland, or lots of stuff by Harry Turtledove). The third option is that it brings to mind nothing, nada, or in Yiddish — Bupkis mit Kuduchas — shivering sh!% balls. (This is the case whenever I mention what sort of books I’m writing.)

Dieselpunk History

But dieselpunk literature can certainly be more than graphic novel noir, Adolph Hitler alt-history, and Bupkis mit Kuduchas. The heart and soul of dieselpunk can be found all over the pages of history. It could be a tale of horror aboard the Krasin, a Russian Icebreaker built in 1916 to patrol the frozen waters of the Northeast Passage (if someone doesn’t write this story soon, I will). Or it could be a testosterone and diesel driven romp through the Mexican revolution with machine guns confronting Teddy Roosevelt style machismo (sorry, I already wrote this one).

Reeferpunk: Refried History

That brings us to my own take on the genre, a series of stories I call Reeferpunk. Reeferpunk is a spaghetti-Western, refried alternate-history of what could have become of the southern half of North America if cheap oil never got cheap, and instead brilliant minds devised an early cellulosic ethanol from the wondrous cannabis plant. Mein Hanf!

Punk Mexican Revolution Style

And what better place to begin a story of alternate-revolution than during the Revolucion de Mexico? If I were to tell you the tale of a one-armed strongman, a ruthless and cunning General of the Mexican Constitutional Army, cutting down large numbers of peon revolutionaries with German machine guns during the Spring of 1915, would it sound to you like a fanciful dieselpunk tale or approximate truth? That’s the beauty of it. It’s both! Envision it with me.

Nations have drawn lines in the dirt and then brandished their buttocks across them. Europe is embroiled in war as the United States looks on like a redneck at the royal wedding. Soon enough the Zimmermann Telegram will force the sleeping Giant to crap or get off the pot, but for now border states like Texas, and their politically embattled force of Texas Rangers are left to stave off the looming “brown menace” from Mexico.

Refugees, bandits, cavalry charges mixed with trench warfare and machine guns, armored trains, clandestine meetings and German influence–all of it lavished with a lust for oil. This, ladies and gents, is all pretty much straight from the annals of time, and there’s plenty of both diesel and punk to go around. What happens next is up to all you dieselpunk dreamers. What diesel-powered monstrosities will stain the pages of alt-history before the day is won? Indeed, I believe the best dieselpunk literature has yet to be written.

What if?

I Personally find all the “What ifs” in history too tempting to leave them lingering like farts under a blanket. No, I think it’s our duty to turn down the sheets of time and let the fart gas fly. My version of the story begins with the first novel in the Reeferpunk series, Fistful of Reefer. May you buy it, enjoy it, and pass the gas.

Fistful of Reefer is a pulp featuring goats, guns and the camaraderie of outcasts. Marijuana was the plan, liberty the dream, revolution the result. Viva this! (Available July 28th from ebook retailers everywhere.) The second book in the series, Twitch and Die! a Western plague novel, will hopefully be out by Christmas.


Proto-Steampunk Short Fiction

There’s been something of an influx of Victorian era fiction on oi9 as of late, and I figured I’d let my readers who are also history and literature buffs know about their posting. These are not technically Steampunk works. Steampunk itself is a modern movement that takes elements of the Victorian world and transposes it in today’s world. These two works, however, were written during the Victorian time itself and dreams of what technology might do for humanity in the future. For Steampunk today, looking at science fiction during the Victorian period is akin to retracing your family tree: the connection is distant, but ultimately you’re somehow related to these people.

The first is entitled The Steam Arm and is purportedly the first cyborg horror story to enter into fiction. This ballad tells the story of a young man who loses his arm in a war and gets it replaced with a mechanical, steam driven appendage. Dripping with metaphor and commentary about the Victorian world, The Steam Arm expresses abounding discontent with the increasing influence of technology of humanity. You can read the ballad here.

The second piece is a poem by Edward S. Ellis entitled Darius Green and tells the story of young Mr. Green and his flying contraption. Flight would eventually become a huge theme in the Steampunk subculture, with airships and various other flying machines becoming quintessentially Steampunk. You can read the poem here.

Carnal Machines

Sexuality is a particularly interesting topic within Steampunk when you consider the particular period that inspires the subculture. The Victorians made a good show of being completely repulsed at the notion of sex and sexuality, but were truly obsessed with the notion. While on the one hand, tables would be covered lest they show their ‘legs’, pornography was on the rise and was deemed so much of a threat to society that the world’s first law criminalizing pornography was the United Kingdom Obscene Publications Act 1857 enacted at the urging of the Society for Suppression of Vice. For more on the history of pornography, click here to view the Wikipedia article (possibly NSFW).

Steampunk today does not have such terrible restrictions on human sexuality as did the Victorians. People of all gender identities are welcome within Steampunk, and as such, we as a subculture have a rather accepting notion of what is acceptable in the bedroom.

In the not too distant past, I blogged about a Steampunk erotica webcomic and graphic novel entitled Chester 5,000 XYV, which involves the  physical relationship between a woman and the robot her husband built for her. In a similar vein, Carnal Machines, edited by D. L. King, is a collection of erotic Steampunk short stories.

And while I haven’t read this collection, reviews for the work seem largely positive. So if you’re looking for something to help turn up the heat, Carnal Machines might just be the perfect book for you to pick up and peruse.

20,001: A Steampunk Odyssey

Attention all Steampunk writers! Kindling Press has made a call for submissions to their latest anthology effort, 20,001: A Steampunk Odyssey, a collection of Steampunk short stories.

Check out the specifics of the call right here, straight from the Kindling Press site:

Preference will be given to stories involving the Sea and its mysterious Denizens; submarine travel and related Contrivances; transoceanic Escapades, mysterious Islands, &c.

The preferred length of submissions is 2000 to 6000 words, but longer or shorter works may be considered on a case by case basis.  All submissions must be original works and cannot have previously appeared in any form. Only submissions formatted in Microsoft Word and written for the Steampunk genre will be accepted.

Send all submissions as attachments to submissions@kindlingpress.com no later than July 31, 2011.  Accepted submissions will be paid a modest fee, with a further advance to be paid if sales are sufficient to cover it.  Authors will retain full rights to their work beyond this original publishing, which will extend to both e-formats and a small run of traditionally printed copies.

Paid work for writers and you get to keep the rights to what you create?! Don’t miss this opportunity to get your work read by many a Steampunk with Kindling Press.

Airship Pirates and the Wrath Of Fate

The crew of the H.M.S. Ophelia has been hard at work creating a wealth of new goodies for their fans. In addition to plans for both an acoustic and electric album in the works, there’s also a tabletop RPG and a novel planned for the near future.

The tabletop RPG is entitled Airship Pirates and is set in the post-apocalyptic Steampunk world that Abney Park lives in. If you enjoy the alternative reality that Abney Park’s songs have created for you, you are sure to enjoy reading about the expanded vision of this world.

Airship Pirates is in its last week of production before being sent off to the presses, so its likely that you’ll be able to pick up your own copy and start kick off your own campaign soon enough!

Also due out soon is the Abney Park novel, The Wrath of Fate, which takes the snippets of narrative found in each Abney Park song and cobbles them together to form the overarching narrative of the band. The novel is expected to be released some time in August, and would be a great compliment to the RPG.

As soon as I hear about release dates and methods for acquisition on either of these new books, I’ll be sure to let you know here.

Next Town Over

Next Town Over is another webcomic with heavy elements of Steampunk and western fantasy incorporated into the storyline and aesthetic written by Erin Mehlos. The webcomic is beautifully drawn, features and intriguing and constantly unfolding story, and updates every Saturday and has been running since October of 2010. Since this is such a new webcomic, there’s no telling where the story might take us, so everything is wonderfully fresh.

Check out the webcomic’s first page below. It gives you a great initial feel for the comic.

To start reading from the beginning of the webcomic’s publication, please click here. And, if you happen to like what you see, you can follow Next Town Over via Twitter and Facebook.

Chester 5000 XYV

In what has been an excellent week for Steampunk publications here at Trial By Steam, today’s post features yet another outstanding Steampunk novel, this one, a graphic novel entitled, Chester 5000 XYV by Jess Fink. The story starts when a Victorian inventor determines to make a sex robot for his wife, and the ensuring romance between woman and machine.

The graphic novel started out as a webcomic, which you can explore at Jess’s website. Reader be warned, however, this is not a kid friendly comic and deals, rather graphically, with human and robotic sexuality and the pairings therein. If this sort of thing could possibly offend your sensibilities, offset your moral compass, or otherwise perturb you, Chester 5000 XYV is definitely not the webcomic and graphic novel for you.

Jess recently did an interview with All Over Albany that is really informative about the Chester 5000 XYV project. If you’re interested in the series or want to learn more about it, you should definitely check out the interview. It lends a lot of great insight into Jess’s own insight and opinions on his publication.