What is Decopunk?
Attaway is described as “a decopunk LARP in three parts,” but what exactly does “decopunk” mean?
Most people by now are familiar with the idea of steampunk, a genre and style that blends science fiction and Victorian England’s aesthetics. The signs and signifiers of steampunk are easily recognizable: airships crewed by grease-stained sky pirates; steam-powered robots (with or without handlebar moustaches); dandies in tophats bearing laser guns as designed by Jules Verne; and of course, goggles -- the bigger, the better. Steampunk tends to focus on themes of exploration, innovation, and high society. Occasionally it examines colonialism and class struggles through a gaslight sci-fi lens.
Steampunk is rooted in the real-world mid-1800s, but if you were to advance the concept a few decades into the 1920s-40s, you’d hit dieselpunk. Steam power has been replaced by oil as the primary source of power: airships have become Hindenberg-like dirigibles; robots look more like the eponymous Iron Giant than Tik-Tok of L. Frank Baum’s Oz; and protagonists sport leather bomber jackets and military caps instead of tailcoats and tophats. The goggles, of course, remain. If steampunk is leather and brass and sepia tones, dieselpunk is iron and steel and gray. Dieselpunk evokes the themes of its inspirational era -- industrialism, social upheaval, and war (or the threat of war).
Attaway considers its parent genre to be dieselpunk, with some important distinctions. It’s commonly accepted that dieselpunk can be divided into two halves, either before or after the start of World War II as a jumping-off point. The first focuses on a world continuously at war on a global scale (“Piecraftian”), while the second focuses more on the pre-war Jazz Age and the so-called “Roaring Twenties.” If it isn’t already apparent, this second half describes the nature of Attaway as a game world and as a LARP on the whole. This subgenre is called decopunk. It takes a positive outlook towards technology as a form of innovation for humanity’s overall benefit, with an upbeat (if not devil-may-care) attitude towards the future and a general air of Art Nouveau decadence. Steampunk author Sara M. Harvey describes the subgenre thusly: “DieselPunk is a gritty version of Steampunk set in the 1920s-1950s. The big war eras, specifically. DecoPunk is the sleek, shiny very Art Deco version; same time period, but everything is chrome!”
Decopunk is a drop-dead-gorgeous lounge singer in a black velvet dress, clutching the microphone she croons into with a slick chromed prosthetic arm.
Decopunk is a hard-boiled detective in a leather trenchcoat cracking his knuckles as he prepares to confront his mark atop the roof of the midnight monorail going uptown.
Decopunk is the smoke from a revolver curling up the arm of a woman in a perfectly tailored three-piece suit and fedora, standing over the body of a crime lord… and her former lover.
Attaway is Decopunk.
"Rayguns! Steampunk Fiction". Interview transcript. 17 May 2010. Archived from the original on 21 May 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2015.