Tuesday, April 6, 2010

you know they're only what they think of you

Miss Ariane brings up some of the difficulties roleplayers in Second Life are having. Not just with the new client, but with the new changes. I don't think she's wrong; I do think things are going to continue to go downhill, though. Because I truly don't think Linden Labs cares about who made their virtual world thrive; whomever that was, they feel, can now be safely pushed aside for the big money interests: corporations; television shows; universities; the military. That's where the money lies. Everything else just distracts from that pure vision, doesn't it?

So yes, I sympathize greatly. I think roleplayers are in a daunting plight, and that plight is only going to get worse for them. But redress from the Labs will never be forthcoming.

They don't care. And I am very, very sure they haven't even noticed the problem.

On the Labs' side, how'ver, I do feel compelled to add--Ariane's attitude, which is largely reflected in some RPers, is part of the problem we're now in. The get what you can, make it work attitude is fine for roleplay; the grab whatever's there, whether it's legal or not, because we're free artists and creative types...that's never gone over, and if they can't be bothered to worry about where that texture or that prim does come from, then yes, they're making the problem worse, and they're contributing to where we are now.

For new residents, new last names have been released again. For optimal Victorian/steamlands use, I would suggest the following:

* Acanthus. A common design element in Victorian architecture and furnishings.
* Bellflower. It also doubles as a good fantasy name.
* Broadmoor. Good for dark Victorian, Lovecraftian, and gothic personas.
* Callow. Good for villains.
* Canare. Good for villains and mad scientists.
* Canieri. Good for villains, mad scientists, and Italian tenors.
* Cygnet. Good for medieval roleplayers, as well as affably pretentious sorts.
* Danube. Simple, lovely and Germanic.
* Darkward. Again, best for dark Victorian, Lovecraftian, and gothic personas.
* Elegy. See above; it would also work for religious sorts.
* Evermore. Ideal for fans of Edgar Allen Poe; doubly so if the first name starts with "N".
* Farlight. Can pull double duty as a Space Ranger or a gentlemen-about-Victoria City.
* Feuilles. For French avatars, also for people who adore correcting pronunciations of their last name.
* Finlayson. Good. Sturdy. Scottish.
* Fragonard. Perfect for avatars who want to wear green-spam scents. Or who adore French culture.
* Godric. Perfect for medieval recreationists, and teddibly teddibly English sorts.
* Leleu. Again good for the French or those who like that lilt to their last names.
* Lycomedes. Perfect for fans of the Trojan War.
* Maggiore. Perfect for Italian avatars, and hoteliers of any stripe.
* Manx. I had to list this one. Imagine: an avatar walks in with the last name Manx. She has ears and whiskers, but no neko tail. (Oh, what? It would be PERFECT!)
* Marsault. It just sounds vintage, plus, again, if you're planning to open an inn...
* Minuet. Why not name yourself after a dance?
* Neopolitan. This one? Just sounds fun.
* Orchid. For those frail hothouse flowers amongst us.
* Ovis. Sort of an allusion-in-brief for bird lovers?
* Riverstone. Another sturdy English option.
* Starkford. Followed by this sturdy alternate.
* Tulliman. Your average pint-a-day dockworker, clark, or industrialist.
* Vervain. Herbal names are always good for vintage avatars.
* Visage. Good for costumers.
* Voix. Another very cool French name that is, for once, easy to spell! And pronounce!
* Woodside. Can't go wrong with references to English directions.

Neil Gaiman announces to the world he owns an interdimensional dog. I guess dogs have finally learned how to do what cats have been doing for millenia, now.

So, apparently there's a new sim coming soon--or it may already have popped--called Seraph City. A lot of New Babbage's brightest can be found on their Ning page, which is not necessarily confusing, as a lot of folks interested in turn-of-the-century ways are also interested in times forward from that, and past.

What makes Seraph City different? It's not Victorian. By description, it seems more Art Deco/Art Nouveau with a noir twist. They're already working on the roleplay aspect with a thread on slang of the era, and Duchess Gabrielle is pondering adding a dieselpunk channel to Radio Riel--and if you think there's debate on what is or isn't steampunk music, that's nothing on what fits into dieselpunk music.

The accepted trend (by most) seems to be sounding vintage, but not actually being vintage. For instance, Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Puppini Sisters, Janelle Monae, and possibly Paloma Faith, among others. But by that same extension, actual bands and singers of the era wouldn't fit in. So while dieselpunks might listen to Count Basie, Helen Kane, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington, these won't specifically inform the culture.

It seems a far finer line than steampunk, which generally widely accepts anything with a machine noise in it.

But I'll post more information when I can; pictures when the sim opens (if it's not already). Should be an interesting trip, at the least.

(Afterthought note: one wonders if singers like Fiona Apple qualify, when they make no other allusions to the time, but perform fairly faithful renditions of older material. But that's a question for another day.)


Magdalena Kamenev said...

Read the Dieselpunk post you linked in reference to defining dieselpunk music. I'm not sure what the original poster meant by "limiting" the discussion to contemporary music. Perhaps he focused on contemporary music because the vintage stuff would fall into the category just by dint have it being within the timeperiod or it forms the core of the genre while contemporary pieces of similar styles are on the edge?

However, the idea that dieselpunk would ignore or bypass actual soul, actual ragtime, actual blues, actual swing, actual bigband ... I would have to have a long liedown, followed by embarrassing myself with my shrillness.

BTW, I'll leave it up to you if the James Gang qualifies as dieselpunk. I think vaudville & Tin Pan alley influences apply, but if there are people other there contemplating that Satchmo isn't dieselpunk [*sticks a clean sock in her mouth and goes to have a liedown*]

Emilly Orr said...

Honestly, I think so, I think they qualify, both in look and in soound.

But sadly, the prevalent attitude--and granted, information is still thin on the ground--seems to be the "old" bands aren't what's real dieselpunk; what's real dieselpunk are the people in the current era, filtering the past.

Personally, I'll go on record and state the problem openly: in trying to link to steampunk (which links back to cyberpunk by naming convention), they are doing themselves a great disservice. Because while I definitely see cyberpunk, and I can hold to the value in steampunk, the whole thing behind both of those is people, living in their worlds, and their worlds really do come down to that one thing--steam powered devices persisting long after they (in our reality) went away, for steampunk; and the net-driven, electronic world of cyberpunk, that every citizen of that reality is steeped in from birth.

Dieselpunk? It doesn't fit. First, there was very little of that...for lack of a better word, 'pioneer spirit'. There were people doing new things, people taking things from here and things from there and making it new for the time, sure. But the twenties and thirties brought so much more than just diesel. Incredible advances in architectural style; leaps of magnitude in popular music; women finally stepping out and into the workforce; men redefining what it meant to be men, after the global shattering that was WWI.

It's diesel, sure. It's also electricity, catching on and powering new things for a new age. It's music and social innovation. It's fashion caught in the crossfire between curvaceous, rounded jazz babies, and sleek, breastless flappers, and the men drawn to both.

I think they need a new name. I think "dieselpunk" profoundly fails to work on all levels. And I think they do a disservice to themselves if they don't realize that the music of the past, recorded for the people of the past, still shines.

Sphynx Soleil said...

You know, I was going to ask what Dieselpunk is.....but....I'm not sure I'd grok the answer...

Magdalena Kamenev said...

I believe I agree with you, Miss Orr, on the notion of 'dieselpunk' not being a fitting name. And yet I can see how it came about ... people having one of those ne'erending arguments about what's steampunk and at what age should it end and someone will bring up media like The Rocketeer or Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow, to which the response is, NO, that's too too modern for steampunk, but if you want to play with it, go ahead but DON'T call it steampunk, it's more like DIESELPUNK!

Personally, I think of it as a series of periods (Roaring 20s, Depression/Art Deco, WWII up until the Trinity test @ White Sands). Should it be called Dieselpunk or Deco or the Jazz Age ... I'm not picky. But surely using some of the actual world in our worldbuilding for alt-history fandom is a GOOD thing, yes?

And let me be honest about part of my motives - the idea of taking a period where you have active cultural involvement and contributions by ... well, people who look like me and my typist and her kinfolk, and deciding to leave them out in favor of moderns with similar stylings who mostly happen to not look like me, or the typist, or most of her kin ... to be honest, it burns. I doubt that is the intent, and yet the potential effect and the impact - still galling, still alienating.

Time to get off my soapbox ... thanks for not pushing me off with a broom yet.

Emilly Orr said...


The answer is simple...and confusing. Just as Edwardian really only spans ten, eleven years, "dieselpunk" is what happened when fans of the 1910s-1930s (sometimes as late as 1940s) crept into steampunk fandom. And most of the steampunk community said nooooo, you're over there, you don't like steaaaam.

Basically, it's a bad name that follows the naming convention of the good name (cyberpunk) and the okay name (steampunk) before it. It really needs a new name, like, NOW.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Kamenev,

It's a worthy soapbox. And it's a damned good point--why marginalize an entire color of humanity that had an active place in society? Sure, there were still "colored fountains" and "colored gas" but, barring such social prejudice, people of color were actually gaining respect, not losing it. For once so-called 'black music' wasn't seen as shameful or evil by most; it was celebrated, in some places honored, and that hasn't been seen again until very recently.

(I have been calling dieselpunk adherents "deco-celebrants" in my head all day, though. It just sounds posh and ridiculous both.)

Starling said...


Emilly Orr said...

I still like "Deco Celebrant", but I'm weird.


A friend suggests "Imperial Redux" but that sounds too much like Louis XIV with an electric mandolin, to me.

Emilly Orr said...

*giggles insanely*


Lalo Telling said...

Not being a role-player, but an avid fan of "antique Futures" (as well as neologisms), I favor Metropolist. It bridges nicely between the end of the 19th C. and the earliest third of the 20th, anchored upon and in homage to Fritz Lang's 1927 classic. Sky Captain, and the art of Frank R. Paul which inspired much of that film's art direction, fit nicely into a "Metropolist" milieu.

Candy said...

My small contribution to SL involves aircrafts inspired by the 1920s - 1940s, and I call it "retro-future inspired." I first heard "dieselpunk" from my mentor, but more as a quick way to distinguish it from steampunk than anything else (we were talking about "Sky Captian and the World of Tomorrow"). I guess "gaspunk" and "internal combustion engine punk" don't work either.


Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Telling,

I can get behind that. "Metropolist" nicely reflects on the move from agricultural zones to larger cities, the increase in river/coastal shipping due to the development of internal combustion engines, and ties in to the film (which works well as a primer for any retro-futurist).

And Miss Ember,

Yeah, I think those have the same failings. I think "dieselpunk" honestly was first used just as that distinguishing point--it's not steampunk, it's not cyberpunk, it's in between--but the biggest thing that differentiates dieselpunk is (at least in America) the upgrade in militaristic and pro-government power-grab attitudes. Steampunk has that decided "God save the Queen" mentality, but otherwise is very nearly involved in government overthrow; and by the time cyberpunk kicks in, distrust of the government--now faceless, uncaring and indifferent--is widespread.

So-called "dieselpunk" doesn't have that. For that reason also, it needs a new name.

Candy said...

There's always "Depressionpunk" or "What the Nazi's probabaly would have come up with punk" (I'm not being totally serious, I hope is obvious). But I think most people don't realize what the "punk" part is all about.


Lalo Telling said...

I believe you're right, Candy. "Cyberpunk" was coined when punk rock still was current, with its anti-establishment attitudes... and "cyber punk" could easily describe the hiros of the genre (pun intended, natch).

"Steampunk" lit, of course, began with Verne and Wells -- it's the revival of the period as a setting that received the back-construction from cyberpunk. We're probably stuck with it... not so with "internal combustion punk." *grin*

Emilly Orr said...

I would agree with both of you. Now, I am still one that holds that steampunk originally was well-sourced to use the nomenclature, being as my first exposure to it was Reed's and Davis' Baker Street, which was all about neo-Victorian street punks solving a series of Ripperesque murders in a modern London where WWII never happened. There were frock coats, there were Mohawks, there were canes and lace cravats, there were Liberty spikes and piercings. To me, that remains my guiding force for steampunk (though I realize many other people don't see it that way).

But dieselpunk? Come on, now. Why source it in the downline? It's not just the era that's different, it's the whole ethos. And it's not about diesel power, as steampunk is about steam, or cyberpunk is about internet use and hacking. Diesel power is only one innovation, and the internal combustion engine can be made to run on many types of fuel, not just diesel. Pick any other term, guys.

Hells, I'd rather see "Combustians" than "Dieselpunks". There's no punk in the time of diesel--punks became hobos became the least effective members of society, for all that they turned out lovely pieces of chip carving.The innovation, the exploration didn't come from the poorest sectors and drift up to the ones most able to afford it; everyone sacrificed, everyone gained, in a sense, at least until the Great Depression.

Plus, this time is the rise of socialism as a belief system, and while it was strongly fought against by America and bits of England, it was also embraced by both countries, as the New Path for civilization.

While punk today has elements of reduce/reuse/recycle/unify, in the beginning it didn't. It was the poor man against the establishment, yes, but it was also the poor man's attitudes of entitlement and self-delusion that created some of the innate skinhead=racist feelings that persist to this day.

...man, I could so write five more articles on the ethics here. Eep.

Lalo Telling said...

Go for it, Miss Em ;)

Candy said...

But as a fictious world, there's no reason why there couldn't be "punks" from that time period, is there (I'm seriously asking this)? Is it because once we get to the 1930s things are too close to what we already have to romanticize it that way? There have been elements working against the system since the beginning of time. Define the authority and someone is working against it in some capacity, from a point of view where they feel excluded, repressed or just plain angry.

But I'm new to all this punkery, so I don't really know how it all fits in.


Emilly Orr said...

I suppose inevitably it comes back to how one defines 'punk'. I define it as the workers' movement that arose in England in the 1950s, then Australia in the early 1960s, then eventually reached American in the early 1970s.

What distinguishes punk from other forms of musical expression, at least, is--until it became "popular"--the lack of musical pretension. While there were/are a lot of crap punk rock bands, for the most part, bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Dead Kennedys and FEAR--among others--featured stripped-down instrumentation, raw, unornamented vocals. This was by the people for the people as a protest. It wasn't surprising that, especially in England, punk became synonymous with workers' uprisings and the latter socialist revivals in Australia and America.

The difference with dieselpunk is--while there were protests, there were workers uprising, there were socialist movements--it was never quite so edged. Punk was tearing down the state entirely--anarchy over any other normative society. The foment between 1914 and 1945 was supportive of the state. If those people wanted to change anything, they wanted to change the minds and hearts of individuals, not the totality of the idea of government.

*coughs and steps off her own soapbox* Good thing I don't censor opinions here...

Fuzzball Ortega said...

Metropolist sounds good. I think Dieselpunk was coined by some roleplaying company when they released a game of theirs.

Only time I ever really heard it being used other than that was in Warren Ellis' mini-series "Ignition City". I'm sure it's been used plenty of times, but I've, personally, never heard it used often

I joined the Seraph City Ning, mostly due to my fascination with the art deco look featured in Metropolis, and also my love of pulp characters like The Shadow, The Avenger, Doc Savage, and the like. But, I don't think Pulppunk sounds good. Even the early Batman stories fit in that. This would even include the detective Solar Pons and even the works of Lovecraft. To me, if you include all that, Dieselpunk just doesn't fit, and yet, there's not another description that's used in mainstream.

And it all depends on how each person will be seeing the city. Some are taking the historical approach with things like prohibition. Some may be taking the pulp novel approach and bring us a Doc Savage or Shadow type character.

As for the music....guess that would all be a matter of opinion. I'd just stick with the historical approach, and there are probably singers from recent years who has that sound that would also fit. But there are no "Dieselpunk" musicians like there are STeampunk musicians.

Metropolists sounds good. I think it sort of has a stronger feel for Seraph City at present, with a hint of the pulp novels being scattered in for good measure. But, I'm just going to be an old codger in Seraph City, if they prefer to be called Dieselpunks, ok, I'll just sit there and say, "In my day, we had steam, it was good enough then, it should be good enough now. You kids and your combustion engines and aeroplanes......"

Emilly Orr said...

My two favorites are coming down to Metropolist and Deco Noir.

I don't think the pure historical approach is quite so separated from the fantastic, either, in the Age of Combustion. Plus it feels more 'open'--no matter what we do in steampunk, eventually it comes back to England. But Metropolist leanings are far more global, more international, with far less effort.

There are musicians playing what they term steampunk music; there are others that have been tagged steampunk, whether they will or no. Metropolist musicians have the beautiful ability to be recognized within a few notes, whether they're actually historical recordings, or present-day retro work. It is such a distinctive time period; there's not so much "Well, she could be...well, they might be, save for the guitar...well, I think so but he doesn't and she's going back and forth..."

And Metropolist fits the movies of the era, more truly than deiselpunk--from "Metropolis" all the way through the serial features to "Sky Captain".

I think you're right.