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October 18, 2017 2 min read 1 Comment

This is a question that came up quite often these days. The MadBurner Pinterest account (which you can find here) has just published new boards: Dieselpunk Fashion, and Cyberpunk Fashion. Many of our visitors have wondered how Cyberpunk, Dieselpunk, and Steampunk differ. You might argue that you can see a slight difference by looking at the different pictures. However, transitions are quite blurry among those three. In this three-part series, I am trying to shed some light on how each of these Punk streams compares. For a quick overview on Steampunk itself, check out this blog post.

Steampunk: what is about to happen?

Photo by: Enrique Meseguer

Steampunk is greatly inspired by Old Victorian Britain in both timeline, literary themes, and fashion. Most themes are in some way related to an ideological conflict between the Monarchical and the Democratically system. In line with the circumstances of the Old Victorian Age machinery and power sources are reliant on coal and clockwork. Hence also the prefix “steam”. Steampunk fashion is also in line with the setting. People dressed in Steampunk Outfits often wear Top Hats, tailcoats, corsets, bowler hats, and waistcoats. Even weaponry accessories are influenced by the Old Victorian Age: Rifles, and Revolvers.

Dieselpunk: self-destruction of the world


On the other hand, we have Dieselpunk. Thematically this subgenre is inspired by the First World War. The rise of Fascism, Socialism, and the empowerment of Japan during that period add to theme. Both the World War, the new political ideologies, and the self-proclaimed ruler of Asia – Japan are often portrait as the cause of a new apocalypse. Contrary to Steampunk steam machines don’t play a vital role anymore. Instead, power is sourced from petroleum-based fuels. Hence, also the prefix “diesel”. Dieselpunk fashion can often be described as militaristic. Instead of top hats and bowler hats, people will wear fedoras, cloche hats, or newsboy caps. Instead of a tailcoat, people will wear pinstriped suits or a zoot-suit. Weapon accessories are characterized by the World War weaponry: SMGs or assault rifles are very common.

Common Question: Is Mad Max Steampunk?

Photo by: Samuel Regan-Asante

That a very easy misconception to have. With goggles, brass, and cogs the movie almost screams “Steampunk”. If you look more closely, however, you will see why the movie is set in a Dieselpunk universe. Just look at the cars in the movie for example: They run on diesel and are made from steel. The movie portraits a dark self-destructed human world based on over-industrialization and militarization.

To quickly summarize: Steampunk usually portraits a clean world that is about to happen. Dieselpunk shows a world that is destructing itself.

Be sure not to miss our next Blog post on how Cyberpunk and Steampunk by subscribing to the MadBurner Newsletter or by following MadBurner on Facebook.

As always: Stay mad!


1 Response


October 11, 2020

Great explanation on the difference between dieselpunk and steampunk! I was very confused between the two

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