Dieselpunk and Dragons
Guest Blog by Brian Trent
"Steel Dragons of a Luminous Sky" moves the spotlight away from European theaters of war, and to the shores of 1930s China. In our dieselpunk re-imagining, this is the decade (as in our own timeline) that the Empire of Japan invades the Middle Kingdom.
It's a side of the war that, oddly enough, hasn't gotten much attention in either Hollywood or literature. In my story, I sought to avoid the "good guys versus bad guys" trope, and instead depict the complex landscape of the time: China's internal strife, rival factions, outside aid in the form of America's Flying Tigers, and of course the Japanese invasion itself.
Why dieselpunk? As a writer, the appeal partly owes to the subgenre feeling fresh and under-explored. It's no less fanciful or adventurous than its steampunk cousin, but there's more grit in the air. There's fuel-stains on canvas fatigues. There's grime on your aviator goggles. And in general, the stakes feel bigger, since humanity's penchant for war has entered a terrifying new phase and the machines (real and imagined) are heavier: steel juggernauts rumbling out of factories sporting riveted seams like rows of tribal scarification. The promised wonders of World Fairs are counterbalanced by battlefields festooned with barbed wire and corpses, trench warfare, and metal behemoths taking over land, sea, and air.
Yet dieselpunk also offers an undeniable sense of fairy tale adventure, too, and within "Steel Dragons of a Luminous Sky" you'll encounter a lofty castle in the sky, a faithful steed, monsters in the countryside, rival kingdoms at war, and an epic quest to be fulfilled. Mortal men and women grapple with technological magic, as bullets pepper Chinese shores and robotic knights descend from heaven.
Welcome to a world of daring risks and espionage, where the people have emerged, like their very machines, eager to survive and thrive.
I hope you enjoy your visit.
About the Author
Brian Trent is the author of the sci-fi-novel Ten Thousand Thunders (published in 2018 by Flame Tree Press), and the Rahotep dark fantasy series. His contribution to Grimm, Grit and Gasoline is an original tale that explores dieselpunk in a deliberately non-western setting, mixing in fairy tale elements from ancient Chinese and Japanese traditions. His short fiction regularly appears in the world’s top markets, including Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Terraform, Daily Science Fiction, The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Galaxy’s Edge, Nature, and more. A Writers of the Future winner and contributing author to Baen Books anthologies, Trent lives in a foggy mountaintop town in New England. His website is www.briantrent.com.
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