The Traveler’s Steampunk Blog is honoured to welcome David Mark Brown, author of Reeferpunk, as a guest blogger. He tells us about his personal take on Dieselpunk and shares some ideas which are all part of Reeferpunk, a novel I was lucky enough to get a pre-release copy of and you will also soon see my review up here.
You can also read more about his first Reeferpunk novel, A Fistful of Refer here, at the official website. And if you happen to have a kindle (or as I do, the corresponding smartphone app), A Fistfull of Reefer will be erleased on Amazon July 28th.
But for now, I let David take over:
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.
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).
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!
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.
A Dieselpunkish History
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, guns, bandits and livestock spill back and forth across the border in increasing amounts until Venustiano Carranza, aided by the bravado of Pancho Villa and tactical genius of Alvaro Obregon, seizes power and the support of the U.S. from Victoriano Huerta.
A year later, April 1915, Captain Franz von Rintelen of German Navy Intelligence conducts a clandestine meeting with Huerta at the Manhattan Hotel where U.S. Secret Servicemen monitor their conversation using empty cans of Campbell’s soup held up against the wall. In doing so, they discover that Huerta’s men will be armed and transported via U-boat in exchange for declaring war on the United States after the German backed coup d’état.
Huerta wants to return to power. Germany wants American munitions for Allied forces to cease (as well as all the infernal Scott Joplin music). But meanwhile Mexican Constitutional forces rally behind their stoic and self-deprecating General, Alvaro Obregon, and his German military advisor, Maximilian Kloss. Kloss apparently never gets the memo that his motherland is switching allegiances. Aided by U.S. railroads and modern diesel engines Obregon out maneuvers Zapata in the South and Villa in the North.
April, 1915 in the Valley of Celaya, Kloss is put in charge of heavy machine guns and artillery. Constitution forces armed with the Mondragon automatic rifle (originating in Mexico, but fabricated in Germany) have created defensive positions behind an entire valley strewn with irrigation ditches, trenches and razor wire. The soon-to-be-one-armed General Obregon waits in his armored train for his once ally and now arch enemy, Pancho Villa and his crack team of Dorados (not Doritos), to charge the lines.
The What ifs?
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?
I 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, Twitch and Die! a Western plague novel, will hopefully be out by Christmas.