“One step at a time will take you there.”
- Anders Blixt

Swedish author, Anders Blixt, tends to write “stories that look at grim aspects of our time through a dieselpunk prism.” He explains:

Since the 1970s I have lived in five countries on three continents and I have seen much misery close up. A lot of people in less privileged parts of Earth still do not enjoy the four fundamental liberties that Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed already in early 1941: freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship. That injustice troubles me greatly and I feel compelled to speak up through my fiction. Because if not I, who? And if not now, when?

But what is Dieselpunk? Just as Steampunk is named for its general power source of steam, Dieselpunk is named for its power source of diesel fuel. Dieselpunk is commonly based on the aesthetics popular between the 1920s until about the end of the 1940s. It is certainly not as delicate as steampunk. Machinery is usually slower, louder, bigger, and more powerful. When we think steampunk we think brass and copper. When it comes to Dieselpunk think steel and iron.

When it comes to plotting Dieselpunk, it tends to focus more on social struggle than on discovery and invention. Dieselpunk is often associated with dystopia. A world where civilization could theoretically cease to evolve due to government control, warfare, or economic collapse. As Blixt comments,

The stable good old days are gone, people don’t know their proper place anymore and everyone faces an uncertain future. It is also a period during which totalitarianism clash with democracy and colonialism with national liberation movements, and during which ruthless people dispassionately commit atrocities in the name of an ideology or a leader.

Blixt started writing when he was eight years old. He credits his father who gave him a Swedish translation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Like so many authors today, Blixt took the self-publishing route. He recommends that if you try self-publishing be sure to keep your costs low. This means researching what companies are out there and understanding what they offer and what you really need. As with many indie author, Blixt finds marketing a challenge. It’s not easy competing with so many other pieces of literature. As a self-published author, you also need to consider quality control and often self-editing. With so many tasks, it’s not always easy to find time to write. “I am flexible in organizing my days, so whenever an hour or two is free, I open my laptop and write. After all, creative writing is plain fun. Also, I stay away from time-consuming hobbies such as golf or boating, and spend little time in front of the TV,” states Blixt.

Blixt’s first real introduction to Steampunk was in 1988 when he played a role-playing game called Space 1889. A game that he still plays occasionally today. Blixt not only writes stories, but also role-playing games. Most of his game material focus on space opera and post-apocalyptic themes. In 2014, he was invited to speak at a Steampunk Convention in Gävle about Steampunk role-playing games. When asked if he found the writing process of a game to be similar to that of a book he stated that there are significant differences:

Writing a game is similar to writing a schoolbook in history, geography, anthropology, or engineering. I have to present a lot of facts about the game verse and the rules engine in an accessible and educational manner. There is little room for character development. I enjoy game writing process, because it is a pleasure to create simultaneously alien and credible species and societies. I have an academic background in social sciences and languages and that usually shows in my texts.

Writing fantastic fiction requires both a credible stage (i.e. a partially alien landscape where the action takes place) and interesting protagonists. Character development is essential in fiction: an in-world narrator whose progress and tribulations are shared by the reader. A piece of fiction will only deal with the relevant segment of the fictitious world, whereas a game must explain its complete world so that the game master will be able to use it to its full extent in his adventures.

Books:

·         The Ice War

·         Patchwork World (a collection of short stories)

·         Kashmir’s Forgotten Guardian (non-fiction)

·         Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep (featured in this science-fiction anthology)