I originally published this on Strangelet Journal’s blog on March 31, 2014. Strangelet ended that blog in June of 2014. I have since finished playing Jazzpunk.
I’m reading Carniepunk, a Gallery Books anthology shadowed with the dark carnival aesthetic of Something Wicked This Way Comes and the killer clown aesthetic of Stephen King’s It and, of course, Killer Clowns from Outer Space. I’m more grown up than I was when I cried meeting Bozo the Clown, so I’m less terrified and more thrilled.
As expected in a set of short stories called Carniepunk, funhouse mirrors, the term “pancake makeup” applied liberally, and intrigue afoot in the midway.
The collection isn’t intent on creating a new sub-subgenre (though American Horror Story’s recently announced next season, “Freak Show,” might be a little carniepunk) but the title is a nod to sub-subgenres like cyberpunk. With William Gibson being their most famous practitioner, cyberpunk writers dress their anti-heroes in noir, science fiction, black dusters, and sunglasses.
Cyberpunk begot the gear-obsessed steampunk, and now we have dieselpunk, splatterpunk, sandalpunk, fairypunk and stonepunk (for The Flintstones?). And the art and musical world has seapunk, painting everything on Tumblr aquamarine in its wake.
The -punk aesthetic can crash anyone’s genre party.
So, as I binge on Netflix’s House of Cards, I vote for the next genre -punking to be Congresspunk. The show bubbles with all the intrigue of political thrillers and noir, fueled by lone wolves hacking through a dystopic democracy to get what they want. Blue suits, red ties, white steps, all cast with shadows.
It came to my attention that a game called Jazzpunk just came out, full of Cold War spies and presumably Cool Jazz sounds. The creators seem to have a… sillier approach to genre -punking, but everything must be punk.
So, take note, Necrophone Games, I’m looking for a gritty new game with far more parliamentary procedure.