Created By: Skunk on November 3, 2011 Last Edited By: Skunk on November 27, 2011

Petrolpunk

Alternate Reality fiction where there is more of an emphasis on combustion engines more than any other form of technology.

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Rolling Updates * Do We Have This * Early Development Phase


Petrolpunk is defined as a 'punk' genre where there is an emphasis on vehicles over other technologies, usually because technology stopped progressing after 1979, right before the 80s. Because of the time period, the reason technology stopped progressing is usually the end of the cultured world (meteorite smashes into earth, world war 3, disease makes men sterile, whatever) and because of this, all we have are combustible and compression engines. Diesel, kerosene, gas, methane, propane... this is the lifeforce of the world. And fuel is VERY hard to come by, so hard most people would kill for it.

Unfortunately this is before the age of high efficiency low fuel mileage engines. Most if not all vehicles are engines that are easy to work on, with many hot swappable parts and easy to fabricate parts. So, in short, V8s motorcycles and Volkswagens. The only electricity on a massive basis will come from combustion generators. Even some of the weapons are fuel based, such as miniguns built from chainsaw motors and camshaft piston cannons. This isn't exclusively limited to alternate realities, but in many cases to dystopian or Scavenger World futures, such as The Apunkalypse.

Other forms of petrol punk include settings Twenty Minutes into the Future, where society hasn't collapsed yet the high performance engine is king. Heavy on chase sequences and high octane action sequences, these stories generally force reason to take a backseat to marshal law.

This genre isn't to be confused with Diesel Punk.

Examples

Comics

Film

Video Games
  • Gears of War
  • The video game series Road Rash.
  • The Super Nintendo game Outlander, based on the Mad Max films.
  • The Fallout games, to a point. The series contains elements of the genre, but instead of gasoline radioactive elements are used as the main source of fuel for vehicles. However, everything else is based on gasoline; even the robots run on petrol.
  • Borderlands

Tabletop Games

Real Life
  • There is an entire car culture devoted to this trope, especially in the motorcycle world, known as "Survival". Similar in style to rat rods, these particular cars are usually held together with cheap welds and duct tape, sometimes using custom made parts, sometimes out of household junk like door latches and beer cans, to keep them running. These cars generally don't fix rust or dents or any structural damage until it's absolutely necessary. They never get painted; in fact, the more surface rust the better the car or bike looks to them. Additional modifications to the cars or bikes to give them that petrolpunk feel include skulls, rivets, spikes, exhaust flamers, and (of course) fuel guzzling high performance engines.

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • November 3, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Whoah, Wall Of Text there. You should really break it up into smaller paragraphs with some spacing.

    At first I thought, "This is Diesel Punk" but after revisiting that article I realize it's not. This looks to be a case of How Did We Miss This One. Everyone probably just assumed we already had this since it was so obvious and it never came up until now.

    Desert Punk is close but this genre doesn't only take place in desert settings. They could easily be urban, or rural.
  • November 3, 2011
    MorganWick
    Now my experience with the punks comes mainly from TV Tropes, but I'm pretty sure steampunk is by far the most prominent and the others are snowcloned off it. "Petrolpunk" is hardly "obvious".
  • November 3, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    They're all snowclones of the term 'Cyberpunk', actually, though they aren't actually that related thematically or in origin.
  • November 6, 2011
    Skunk
    1. fulltimeD: Rewrote so it's more like an actual article. 2. Morgan Wick: Petrolpunk as a genre has been around longer than steampunk. 3. Noir Grimoir: Well, cyberpunk and petrolpunk are related to a small degree, in that the fashions of the genre are actually based off of the punk subculture. But only to that degree. Cyberpunk explores the idea of advanced technology gone haywire, while petrolpunk explores the idea of no electrical technology at all past the transistor.
  • November 6, 2011
    DaibhidC
  • November 6, 2011
    Bisected8
    • The main character of Megas XLR arguably modifies the robot from the title into this aesthetic.
  • November 6, 2011
    fulltimeD
    @Skunk: Good rewrite. You might want to point out this isn't exclusively limited to alternate realities, but in many cases to dystopian or Scavenger World futures.
  • November 6, 2011
    fulltimeD
  • November 6, 2011
    Skunk
    Added Daibhid C, Bisected8, and fulltimeD's suggestions.
  • November 8, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I supremely disagree that Megas XLR has anything to do with this genre.
  • November 8, 2011
    jate88
    I thought this trope was described on Write A Diesel Punk Story but someone changed it since the last time I looked at it. This seems to be covered by a combination of Diesel Punk and The Apunkalypse.
  • November 8, 2011
    SolidSamurai
    Gears of War universe. The entire world goes to war over a combustable fuel source, not because the big corporations are monopolizing jerks, but because it's actually the best fuel source for orbital death laser beams.
  • November 8, 2011
    Generality
    I think you still need to break up the main body of text. Two paragraphs should do it.
  • November 8, 2011
    Skunk
    Noir Grimoir - Okay I'll remove it. I've never seen it so I dunno. jate88 - Petrolpunk isn't always The Apunkalypse, and nowhere near Diesel Punk. Solid Samurai - I've never played that game. I'll add it. Generality - Sure.
  • November 12, 2011
    Skunk
    So, does anyone else have any other ideas to make the article better, or any other examples to add?
  • November 12, 2011
    foxley
    There are strong elements of this in Deadlands: Hell on Earth.
  • November 16, 2011
    Skunk
    Thank you foxley.
  • November 16, 2011
    Skunk
    Added "Survival" cars, since I've seen a lot of these Mad Max inspired rods at car shows. Fixing folder issue now, apparently you can't use them here...
  • November 26, 2011
    Skunk
    Anything else? Or should I post it?
  • November 26, 2011
    jate88
    I believe you're supposed to wait for five hats before posting.
  • November 26, 2011
    pokedude10
    Sorry to be a downer here, but 80% of the examples are X Just X. When the article launches, I assure you someone is going to chop off most of those.
  • November 27, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Skunk- you're painting yourself in a corner with a description that invalidates half your examples (specifically examples where, contrary to your description, SOCIETY HAS COLLAPSED). Note Waterworld, City Limits, and I believe The New Barbarians all take place in Scavenger World, After The End settings. Your description should probably be slightly less specific unless you want to make a really, really narrow setting trope.
  • November 27, 2011
    fulltimeD
    I think the general feeling is that this is The Apunkalypse but more specific.
  • November 27, 2011
    pokedude10
    I agree with fulltimeD. This has a very narrow set of requirements. And this sounds a lot like a mix between The Apunkalypse, and Diesel Punk.
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