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The Rocketpunk aesthetic is based on retro-futuristic or near-futuristic depictions of spaceflight, space exploration, and settlement, usually with realistic (as in hard science fiction) or semi-realistic science and engineering considerations.

Wiktionary generally defines "rocketpunk" as "a subgenre of speculative fiction based on space exploration."[1]

As quoted by Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets website, Rick Robinson of the Rocketpunk Manifesto blog specifically defines the term as retro-futuristic visions of space travel from the 1950s: advanced and cheap aerospace technology with primitive electronics.[2]

The term "NASApunk" has been used by the developers of the video game Starfield to refer to an aesthetic inspired by real-life space programs like NASA (but not necessarily hard sci-fi).[3]

The aesthetic of realistic cylindrical and conical space warships has sometimes been jokingly referred to as "COADEcore" on the ToughSF Discord server,[4] in reference to the video game Children of a Dead Earth.

Motifs[]

Rocketpunk is based on the "Space Age" which began in the 1950s, especially with the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in 1957. Prototypical examples include 19th century science fiction like Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, as well as 1920s-1940s media like Buck Rogers. Shortly after World War II, rockets in science fiction came to resemble the infamous German V-2 missile.[5] Traditionally, Rocketpunk can appear like 1950s-1960s pulp sci-fi illustrations associated with Atompunk and Raygun Gothic, including the social conventions of the time.

More modern and realistic (hard) sci-fi tends to be inspired by real-life space programs or proposals, such as NASA's Apollo Moon missions, the unbuilt Project Orion nuclear spacecraft, or the International Space Station. A larger human presence in space may be depicted in the form of interplanetary spacecraft and space colonies. The tone can range from optimistic (but not without challenges) to dystopian.

Many realistic crewed spacecraft designs may feature a few or more of these characteristics:

  • Dedicated propulsion and payload sections
  • Cylindrical or spherical propellant tanks and habitats (stable shapes for pressure vessels, more volume per surface area, simpler to manufacture)
  • Rocket engines (chemical or nuclear thermal) or electric thrusters
  • Power generated by solar panels, fuel cells, or nuclear energy
  • Radiators for heat dissipation
  • Trusses for structural support on large spacecraft
  • Wings or fins for atmospheric flight
  • Rotating centrifuges for artificial gravity

In addition, retro-futuristic rockets and spacecraft may feature:

  • Cigar-shaped, polished alloy fuselages
  • Onboard computers with nixie tubes, flashing lights, reel-to-reel cassettes, etc.
  • Checkerboard patterns on rockets
  • Large circular windows
  • Straight or curved fins used as landing legs

Media[]

Literature[]

  • Novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and similar authors
  • Dan Dare series
  • The Adventures of Tintin: Destination Moon (1950 comic)
  • Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (1952-1956)
  • Voyage (1996)
  • The Martian (2011, 2015 movie)
  • Seveneves (2015)
  • The Calculating Stars (2018)
  • Delta-V (2019)

Movies[]

  • Destination Moon (1950)
  • When Worlds Collide (1951)
  • Space Master X-7 (1958)
  • The Lost Missile (1958)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • Marooned (1969)
  • 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • Europa Report (2013)
  • Gravity (2013)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Wanderers (2014 short film)
  • Ad Astra (2019)

TV Shows[]

  • Disneyland - "Man in Space" (1955 documentary)
  • Fireball XL5 (1962)
  • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, A Spacetime Odyssey, Possible Worlds (1980, 2014, 2020)
  • Star Cops (1987)
  • Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets (2004)
  • The Expanse (2015-2022)
  • For All Mankind (2019-)

Anime and Manga[]

  • Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)
  • 2001 Nights (1985)
  • Planetes (2003-2004, 1999 manga)
  • Rocket Girls (2007, 1995 light novel)
  • Space Brothers (2012-2014, 2007-ongoing manga)
  • Toaru Majutsu no Index Movie: Miracle of Endymion (2013)
  • The Orbital Children (2022)

Games[]

  • Spacewar! (1962)
  • Lunar Lander (1979)
  • Microsoft Space Simulator (1994)
  • Orbiter (2000-2016)
  • GURPS Transhuman Space (2002)
  • Attack Vector: Tactical (2004)
  • High Frontier (2010s board game series)
  • Kerbal Space Program series (2011, 2023)
  • SimpleRockets / Juno: New Origins (2013, 2018)
  • Children of a Dead Earth (2016)
  • Spaceflight Simulator (2017)
  • Delta-V: Rings of Saturn (2019)
  • Terra Invicta (2022)
  • Squadron Strike: Newton's Cradle (2022)
  • Starfield (2023)

Web Original[]

  • 17776 (Also called What football will look like in the future) (2017)
  • The Lunar War by L5Resident [6]

Gallery[]

Resources[]

References[]


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